United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
PATERSON BROWN, SR. and KATHY M. BROWN, Co-Administrators of the Estate of Paterson Brown, Jr., Deceased, Plaintiffs,
DAVID L. COBB, Individually and in his Official Capacity as a Police Officer for the City of Richmond, Virginia, and CITY OF RICHMOND, Defendants.
A. GIBNEY, JR.UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arises from the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Paterson
Brown by an off-duty Richmond police officer, David L. Cobb.
The administrators of Brown's estate, Paterson Brown,
Sr., and Kathy Brown,  filed this action against Cobb and the
City of Richmond, alleging several claims pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, as well as state law claims.
§ 1983 claims include a Fourth Amendment claim of use of
excessive force (Count I), an Eighth Amendment claim of cruel
and unusual punishment (Count II), and (against the City
only) failure to train and supervise Cobb (Count III). Brown
also asserts state law claims of gross negligence (Count IV),
assault and battery (Count V), "survivorship"
(Count VI), and "punitive damages" (Count VII)
against both Cobb and the City.
City has moved to dismiss the entire suit against it. Cobb
has moved to dismiss only Count II.
Court will grant the motions to dismiss Count II, alleging an
Eighth Amendment claim. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel
and unusual punishment after conviction of crime.
Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 671 n. 40 (1977).
Since Brown was not convicted of any offense, the plaintiffs
cannot assert an Eighth Amendment claim, and the Court will
dismiss Count II with prejudice.
the other claims, the Court will grant the City's motion
to dismiss. The § 1983 claims fail because Brown has not
alleged any facts showing that the City's policy, custom,
or usage led to a violation of the victim's rights. The
state law claims fail for various reasons under Virginia law,
FACTS ALLEGED IN COMPLAINT
morning of October 17, 2015, Cobb, an off-duty Richmond
police officer, brought his girlfriend's car to Better
Vision Detail & Car Spa in North Chesterfield, Virginia.
When Cobb left his car unattended, Paterson Brown got into
the car. Cobb saw Brown get into the car and realized that
Brown did not work for Better Vision. Cobb approached the car
with his gun drawn and opened the driver-side door. Cobb
identified himself as a Richmond police officer, and,
paradoxically, told Brown both to get out of the car and not
to move. Cobb also requested that a bystander call 911 to
request "backup" from the Chesterfield Police
Department. Brown had no weapon, and Cobb apparently did not
perceive a threat to his safety.
point, Brown tried to close the driver-side door, prompting
Cobb to move closer to the car with his gun drawn. When Brown
tried to close the door a second time, Cobb stood in the way
with his gun drawn, within two or three feet of Brown, and
violently pulled Brown's left arm to prevent the door
from closing. This apparently caused Brown's foot to come
off the brake, and the car moved forward. Cobb then shot
Brown, either because he thought Brown was trying to drive
away when the car inched forward, or because he felt Brown
had disobeyed Cobb's order not to move.
gunshot struck Brown in an artery near his left pelvis,
resulting in severe blood loss. After shooting him, Cobb
pulled Brown out of the car and placed him face down on the
ground, but did not pat him down for a weapon. An ambulance
transported Brown to CJW Medical Center, where he died later
that day. A Chesterfield County jury convicted Cobb of
voluntary manslaughter on February 9, 2017. Cobb served three
months in jail.
Count I: § 1983 for Excessive Force
42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides in relevant part,
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or
causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or
other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the
deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured
by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party