United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division
K. MOON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiffs in this case allege that Andrew Holmes, an
Albemarle County police officer, violated the Fourteenth
Amendment's Equal Protection Clause through racially
selective enforcement of the law. Specifically, Rodney
Hubbard and his mother Savannah Hubbard claim that Holmes
stopped and searched their car because they are
African-Americans. The defendants, Holmes and Albemarle
County, have moved for summary judgment.
parties focus on a narrow question: Are certain statistics
about Holmes' prior arrests and summonses sufficient to
establish that Holmes' actions had a discriminatory
effect? If not, plaintiffs' case falters because a
selective enforcement claim requires the plaintiffs to
establish both that the defendant's actions had a
discriminatory effect and that those actions were motivated
by a discriminatory purpose. Here, the statistics are the
only evidence of discriminatory effect relied on by the
plaintiffs. The defendants are entitled to summary judgment
because this statistical evidence is insufficient to
demonstrate discriminatory effect.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that a court shall
grant summary judgment “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact.”
“As to materiality . . . [o]nly disputes over facts
that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In order to preclude summary
judgment, the dispute about a material fact must be
“genuine.” Id. A dispute is
“genuine” if “the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Id. In considering a motion for
summary judgment under Rule 56, a court must view the record
as a whole and draw all reasonable inferences in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. See, e.g., Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986).
September 11, 2015, Rodney Hubbard and his mother were
driving north on Route 29 in a black sport utility vehicle.
As they entered Albemarle County, Hubbard passed Holmes, who
was standing outside his patrol car. Hubbard slowed down when
passing Holmes. A mile or two later, Hubbard noticed that
Holmes was now in his patrol car and following Hubbard.
Holmes followed Hubbard for three to four miles before
passing him. After another mile or two, Hubbard again saw
that Holmes was again following him. At that point, Holmes
turned on his lights and pulled Hubbard over. Holmes claimed
Hubbard had driven 65 mph in a 60 mph zone.
then asked Hubbard for his driver's license and
registration. Hubbard did not have his license, but gave him
an identification card. Holmes asked Hubbard to step out of
the vehicle. Holmes told Hubbard he stopped Hubbard for
exceeding the speed limit, although Hubbard denies he was
speeding. Holmes asked Hubbard whether his license was
suspended in Virginia. Hubbard was unsure, but said his
license in Maryland was expired. (During the stop, a
different officer later informed Holmes that Hubbard's
Virginia license was indeed suspended).
said he smelled marijuana and asked Hubbard why the vehicle
smelled like marijuana. Hubbard denied the vehicle smelled
like marijuana and said there was no marijuana in the car,
but did admit that someone had smoked in the vehicle three or
four days before the stop. However, Hubbard had placed an air
freshener in his car to conceal the marijuana smell from his
mother. In her deposition, his mother denied smelling
marijuana. Holmes told Hubbard he was not under arrest, but
searched him due to the marijuana odor Holmes claimed he
smelled in Hubbard's vehicle. Holmes then placed Hubbard
in handcuffs in the patrol car while Holmes searched
Hubbard's vehicle. Other officers arrived to assist in
the search of the vehicle. The officers did not find drugs.
Holmes issued Hubbard a ticket for driving on a suspended
response to a discovery request in a related case, the
defendants produced statistical data about Albemarle County
and its police officers. The data show the racial breakdown
of Albemarle County, a more specific racial breakdown of two
sectors of Albemarle County where Holmes primarily worked,
Holmes' total traffic stops (although these stops are not
broken down by race), the racial breakdown of the summons and
arrests issued by Holmes, and the racial breakdown of
citations and arrests for other officers in Holmes'
primary sectors for 2015.
statistics state that the population of Albemarle County is
81% white and 10% black. Holmes normally does not cover the
whole of Albemarle County, but is usually assigned to three
police “sectors.” The population of two of those
sectors was approximately 68% white and 18% black. The
parties do not have specific data on the racial breakdown of
the third of the sectors.
statistics are kept on total traffic stops, no accompanying
demographic data are available for those stops unless a
summons or citation is issued. In 2014 and 2015, 17% of
summons issued by the Albemarle County Police Department were
to black individuals. From 2009 to 2015, 49% of the summonses
Holmes issued were to black individuals, and 51% were to
white individuals. In 2015, 51% of the summonses Holmes
issued were to black individuals and 48% were to white
individuals. Other officers in two of Holmes' three
sectors issued 22% of summonses to black individuals and 74%
to white individuals in 2015. In 2015, 61% of Holmes'
arrests were of black individuals and 39% were of white