United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DOUGLAS E. MILLER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
action brought by Amanda Bromwell alleging personal injuries
and constitutional violations, the Defendant, Joshua Pankoke,
police officer employed with the Police Department for the
City of Poquoson, Virginia, moved for summary judgment on the
grounds of qualified immunity. (ECF No. 15). Pankoke argues
the evidence is insufficient to permit a reasonable juror to
conclude he used excessive force while arresting Bromwell on
destruction of property charges. See Def.'s Mem. Supp.
Mot. Summ. J. ("Def.'s Mem.") (ECF No. 16).
Bromwell filed a brief opposing summary judgment. (ECF No.
reviewing the exhibits and testimony the parties have
submitted in contest of the summary judgment motion, this
court concludes that there is evidence from which a
reasonable juror could conclude that Pankoke used excessive
force and acted unreasonably in restraining Bromwell while
arresting her. Accordingly, as explained in greater detail
below, the court will DENY the Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15).
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
opinion recites the facts as alleged by both parties,
resolving any differences in their allegations in favor of
Bromwell as the non-moving party. Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Prod., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). On the evening
of June 11, 2015, Bromwell stayed the night with a coworker
at his home in Poquoson, Virginia. Bromwell Dep. at 13 (ECF
No. 16-3). She stayed at her coworker's home throughout
the next day. Id. at 13-14. During the day of June
12, 2015, Bromwell estimated she consumed 12 to 15 beers.
Id. at 14. Late in the day, a dispute arose between
Bromwell, her coworker and his friends. Id.
offered testimony from one of the residents of the home who
said Bromwell refused to leave when asked and scratched and
bit at the residents when the residents removed her by force.
Trial Tr. at 33 (ECF No. 16-1). The same witness said
Bromwell broke a window from outside the home after having
been removed. Id.
described the dispute differently:
I wanted to leave and the one resident didn't want me to
leave. Then when I left, I came back. I had left my purse and
he wouldn't give me my purse and that is where the big
argument began I left [the trailer]. I walked out. And then I
started to-I started down the driveway and realized I left my
purse. And when I came back, I banged on the door and said I
needed my purse and he said, "No. You wanted to leave.
You are not coming back in." And I was banging on the
door saying I need my purse.
Dep. at 15 (ECF No. 16-3). When asked if she tried to force
her way into the home, she said, "No." Id.
When asked if she had broken a window, she said,
"No." Id. She said she left the home
the dispute, the Poquoson Police Department was called to
investigate the disturbance. When Pankoke arrived, Bromwell
was sitting in a chair outside the house. Pankoke Dep. at 18
(ECF No. 16-4). Pankoke left her there and spoke to the
residents of the home, who told him she had been disruptive,
refused to leave the home, and that they had to remove her.
Id. at 19. Pankoke returned to Bromwell, who was by
then receiving first aid for an injury to her foot from
paramedics who had also responded to the call. Id.
After having spoken with the residents, Pankoke decided to
arrest Bromwell for misdemeanor public drunkenness and
destruction of property. Id. at 21-22.
testified that, after he took her from the paramedics,
Bromwell "was screaming and carrying on and
yelling." Id. at 23. He was able to put her in
handcuffs. Id. at 9. When he brought her to his
patrol car, he instructed her to lean up against the trunk of
the car, which she did, still in handcuffs. Id. at
8. While she was leaning against the car, Pankoke testified
that Bromwell kicked him. Id. at 9. Pankoke
testified that, after she kicked him, he told her to stop and
she continued, so he "took her to the ground."
Bromwell offers a different version of the events. She
testified she was handcuffed immediately when the police
arrived and that she cooperated with Pankoke throughout her
interactions with him before he "smashed" her to
the ground. Bromwell Dep. at 16-17 (ECF No. 16-3). She
testified she was cooperative, spoke calmly, and did not
struggle with Pankoke. Id. She testified she did not
kick Pankoke while he had her leaned against the trunk of his
police car in handcuffs. Id. at 17.
also offered testimony from a neighbor named Walter
Battaglia, who saw Pankoke force Bromwell to the ground.
Battaglia described the takedown consistently with
Bromwell's version: "The officer slammed her
brutally.... He picked her up like she was nothing, and he
just slammed her right on her face.. .. You could hear the
impact." Trial Tr. at 7 (ECF No. 16-2). Battaglia - who
does not know Bromwell - testified he was about 40 feet from
Bromwell and Pankoke with an unobstructed view of them. He
testified he neither heard her make any sounds nor did he see
her strike or do anything to Pankoke prior to her being
"slammed" to the ground. Id. at 8-9.
Although Pankoke testified that he told Bromwell to stop
kicking him, Battaglia denies that he did so. Mrs. Chantielle
Battaglia also testified that she witnessed Bromwell
"getting arrested and the cop slamming her to the
ground." Trial Tr. at 20 (ECF No. 16-2). Like her
husband, Mrs. Battaglia did not see Bromwell kick or make any
contact with Pankoke and did not hear the officer purportedly
telling her to stop kicking him. Id.
is five feet and three inches tall and weighs approximately
140 to 150 pounds. Bromwell Dep. at 24 (ECF No. 16-3). At the
time of the incident she was barefoot. Trial Tr. at
42 (ECF No. 16-1). Pankoke is six feet and one inch tall and
weighs approximately 270 pounds. Pankoke Dep. at 8 (ECF No.
forcing Bromwell to the ground, Pankoke recognized that he
had injured her and had the paramedics who were still on the
scene transport her to the hospital for medical treatment.
Pankoke Dep. at 23 (ECF No. 16-4). She was diagnosed with
lacerations to the forehead and face, a black eye and head
trauma, and a closed head injury. Ex. 1 to Bromwell Dep. (ECF
No. 16-3). Bromwell testified that she was concussed,
vomiting and dizzy and that her wounds had to be sutured.
Bromwell Dep. at 18.
was later charged with assault and battery of a law
enforcement officer for allegedly kicking Pankoke. After a
trial at which she pled not guilty, she was convicted of
misdemeanor obstruction of justice. Trial Tr. at 33 ...