Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Brown v. Cobb

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

June 21, 2018

PATERSON BROWN, SR. and KATHY M. BROWN, Co-Administrators of the Estate of Paterson Brown, Jr., Deceased, Plaintiffs,
v.
DAVID L. COBB, Individually and in his Official Capacity as a Police Officer for the City of Richmond, Virginia, and CITY OF RICHMOND, Defendants.

          OPINION

          JOHN A. GIBNEY, JR.UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This 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, [1] 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.

         The § 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.

         The City has moved to dismiss the entire suit against it. Cobb has moved to dismiss only Count II.

         The 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.[2]

         As to 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, discussed below.

         I. FACTS ALLEGED IN COMPLAINT

         On the 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.

         At one 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.

         The 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.

         II. DISCUSSION[3]

         A. Count I: § 1983 for Excessive Force

         Title 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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.