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Williams v. Lance Corporal Kyle Strickland

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

March 5, 2019

JOHNNIE WILLIAMS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LANCE CORPORAL KYLE STRICKLAND Defendant-Appellant and SON ODARIOUS WILLIAMS, Plaintiff and CPL HEROUX; SGT WALTER CRIDDLE; BEAUFORT COUNTY SHERIFF OFFICE; RAYMOND S. HEROUX, Defendants. JOHNNIE WILLIAMS, Plaintiff - Appellee, and SON ODARIOUS WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
RAYMOND S. HEROUX, Defendant-Appellant, and CPL HEROUX; SGT WALTER CRIDDLE; BEAUFORT COUNTY SHERIFF OFFICE; LANCE CORPORAL KYLE STRICKLAND, Defendants.

          Argued: December 13, 2018

          Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at Beaufort. Patrick Michael Duffy, Senior District Judge. (9:15-cv-01118-PMD)

         ARGUED:

          Elloree A. Ganes, HOOD LAW FIRM, LLC, Charleston, South Carolina; Mary Bass Lohr, HOWELL, GIBSON & HUGHES, P.A., Beaufort, South Carolina, for Appellants.

          Jordan Calloway, MCGOWAN, HOOD & FELDER, LLC, Rock Hill, South Carolina for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Whitney B. Harrison, MCGOWAN, HOOD & FELDER, LLC, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.

          Before KEENAN, FLOYD, and THACKER, Circuit Judges.

          FLOYD, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Johnnie Williams brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against two law enforcement officers: Kyle Strickland and Raymond Heroux. Williams claimed that the officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using deadly force while arresting him. The officers moved for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. The district court denied their motions, and the officers now appeal. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I.

         On June 29, 2012, Williams drove from Georgia to South Carolina to visit a relative. His six-year-old son was with him. When Williams and his son arrived in South Carolina, they stopped at a gas station. There, Williams ran into an acquaintance, Anthony Ancrum, who needed a ride to his apartment. Ancrum's apartment complex was nearby, and Williams offered to drive him.

         On the way to the apartment complex, Williams crossed paths with Officer Heroux, who was on duty in a patrol car. Heroux ran Williams's license plate through dispatch and learned that the plate had been stolen. He followed Williams into the parking lot of the apartment complex, where he turned on his blue lights. In response, Williams pulled into a parking space. Heroux got out to approach him. Two other officers, Kyle Strickland and Walter Criddle, arrived on the scene.

         What happened over the next several seconds forms the heart of this appeal. When Heroux was about ten feet from Williams's car, Williams shifted the car into reverse and cut the wheel, causing the front end of the car to swivel in Heroux's direction. Heroux, believing himself to be in danger, stepped back and drew his gun. At the same time, Strickland started walking ...


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