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Laury v. Rodriguez

United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division

May 20, 2015

KEVIN LAURY, Plaintiff,
v.
MATTHEW RODRIGUEZ, STEVEN CAMPBELL, BRIAN PRICE, AND DAVID HUFFMAN, Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 20)

PAUL D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

This civil rights case arises from the circumstances surrounding Plaintiff Kevin Laury’s pretrial booking following his arrest for a traffic violation and possession of an ecstacy pill on April 25, 2013. On December 12, 2013, Plaintiff filed the instant one count complaint alleging “Violation of U.S.C.A. 4 - Excessive Force”. (ECF. No. 1).

Now before the Court is Defendants Matthew Rodriguez, Steven Campbell, Brian Price, and David Huffman’s (collectively “Defendants”) Motion for Summary Judgment that was filed on January 21, 2015. (ECF No. 20). Plaintiff Kevin Laury (“Plaintiff”) responded on February 9, 2015. (ECF No. 25). Thereafter Defendants filed a reply. (ECF No. 27).

A hearing on this matter was held on April 15, 2015. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Arrest of Plaintiff Laury

On April 25, 2013, Plaintiff Laury, then age 21, and his friend Devonte Campbell, then age 20, spent approximately three hours or so at Campbell’s house in Grosse Pointe with two young women they met online. (ECF No. 20, Defs.’ Mot., Ex. 1, Laury Dep. at 38-39; Ex. 2, D. Campbell Dep. at 6, 22).[1] During this time, Campbell admittedly consumed three ecstacy pills but testified that “no one was drinking alcohol”. (Campbell Dep. at 20-21; Laury Dep. at 46). After spending a few hours together at Campbell’s house, the women asked Plaintiff Laury and Campbell to drop them at a bus stop. (Laury Dep. at 40-41; Campbell Dep. at 22-23).

En route to the bus stop, at approximately 9:30 pm, Defendants Price and Huffman, City of Warren Police Officers, observed Plaintiff Laury’s 2009 Jaguar run a red light at 8 Mile near Hoover in the city of Warren, Michigan. (Laury Dep. at 41; Campbell Dep. at 23; Ex. 3, Price Dep. at 6; Ex. 5, In Car Dash Camera at approximately 21:31:37). As a result, Defendants Price and Huffman pulled over Plaintiff Laury’s vehicle. (Price Dep. at 6). Defendant Price approached the driver side window and spoke with Plaintiff Laury, and asked him if he and the passengers had been “drinking a little bit”. (In Car Dash Camera, time: 21:32:21-43). Plaintiff Laury’s response to this question is unclear from the dash camera video, but Defendant Price then stated that he saw a “red solo cup in the back”. (Id. at 21:32:43). Defendants Price and Huffman testified that car smelled of intoxicants and that there was alcohol in the red solo cup in the backseat. (Price Dep. at 9-10; Ex. 4, Huffman Dep. at 17). Defendant Huffman testified that Plaintiff Laury admitted to drinking alcohol and identified the red solo cup as containing alcohol. (Huffman Dep. at 17-18; Ex. 6, Arrest Report at 6-7). However, Plaintiff Laury disputed that he admitted to drinking. (Laury Dep. at 47). No sobriety tests were ever performed on Plaintiff Laury or Campbell.

Defendant Price then advised Plaintiff Laury that he ran a red light and asked for his identification. (Id. at 21:32:51- 21:33:25). At this point in the encounter, Defendant Price asked Plaintiff Laury to step out of the vehicle and conducted a pat-down search on Plaintiff Laury and asked him if he had any weapons. (Laury Dep. at 45). Plaintiff Laury responded that he did not. (Id.). During the search of Plaintiff Laury’s person, Defendant Price found a single “Molly” pill (a slang term for Ecstacy, or MDMA) in Plaintiff Laury’s pants pocket. (Laury Dep. at 47). Plaintiff Laury testified that he identified the pill as a “Molly” to Defendant Price and was handcuffed and put in to the back of the police car where he remained while Defendants Price and Huffman spoke with Campbell and the two women passengers. (Laury Dep. at 49-51).

After Plaintiff Laury was put in the back of the police car, Campbell, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, was directed to get out of the car, was searched, and was then handcuffed. After the search he was also put in the back of the police car. (Campbell Dep. at 26-28; In Car Dash Cam, at approximately 21:40:38). Campbell admitted to the officers that he was high on Molly and that the Molly found on Plaintiff Laury was actually his pill. (Laury Dep. at 50-52; Campbell Dep. at 22, 38). Campbell was also asked if there was alcohol in the car, to which he responded that there was none and “the only thing that was in the car is a cup with tobacco in it”. (Campbell Dep. at 32:3-4). Campbell explained that he had been putting the ashes of his cigarette in the cup that was between the two women in backseat center console. (Id. at 32-33; Laury Dep. at 45-46).

Plaintiff Laury was arrested for possession of Ecstacy, reckless driving, and transporting an open liquor container. (Huffman Dep. at 11-12; Price Dep. at 11-12). Campbell was arrested for minor in possession of alcohol. (Huffman at 12-13; Price Dep. at 9-10). The two women in the backseat, both minors, were not arrested and were driven to the police station and allowed to call for a ride home. (Price Dep. at 10-11).

B. In the Police Car

Plaintiff Laury and Campbell were handcuffed in the backseat of Defendant Price and Huffman’s police car. It is undisputed that while in the back of the police car Plaintiff Laury was argumentative with Defendants Price and Huffman, repeatedly stating that he had not run a red light, claiming the arrest was “bullcrap”, that he was “for sure” taking the matter to court, asking to see the video of him running a red light, and declaring that he had been pulled over as a result of racial profiling. (Ex. 5, Dash Camera (Rear) at 22:10-22:19; 22:27-34). Plaintiff Laury also stated that he was not drunk. (Id. at 22:19). Plaintiff Laury described his behavior in the car as such:

I kept asking them why I were [sic] getting arrested. I basically was telling them I believe it was racial profiling, that I was muscled out of my car for no reason. There was no alcohol in the car. We argued pretty much on the arrest. Me and officer Price’s partner, we had a discussion before [Defendant Price] got in the car while he was talking to the tow people that was towing the car. I asked him “Like why” – like why are you guys” ... Only thing I recall saying to Price was that he was mad – I told him he was mad that my car was worth more than he could afford or something like that.

(Laury Dep. at 56-57; see also Dash Camera (Rear) at 22:24 stating Defendant Price could not afford a car like his).

Defendant Price described Plaintiff Laury as “argumentative” and corroborated that Plaintiff Laury disputed that he had run a red light. (Price Dep. at 14). Defendant Huffman similarly described Defendant Laury’s behavior and agreed when asked that he and Campbell were “running their mouth too much” but noting that there was nothing “physical” that they were doing to cause any concern. (Huffman Dep. at 14).

C. Booking of Plaintiff Laury

Upon arrival at the Warren Police Department, Defendants Price and Huffman took Plaintiff Laury and Campbell into the elevator. (Ex. 7, Elevator Camera). The elevator stopped once on its way up to the booking and processing room and Defendant Huffman exited the elevator.[2] (Huffman Dep. at 28; Laury Dep. at 60; see also Elevator Camera). It is undisputed that Defendant Huffman had no other contact with Plaintiff Laury after exiting the elevator. (Huffman Dep. at 29; Laury Dep. at 60-61).

Defendant Price continued with Plaintiff Laury and Campbell up to the booking and processing room. (See Ex. 8, Booking Videos). Plaintiff Laury testified that he was still “arguing” with Defendant Price while being escorted to booking telling Defendant Price that he felt that he had been racially profiled. (Laury Dep. at 61).

In the booking area, Defendant Price directed Plaintiff Laury and Campbell, both still handcuffed with their hands behind their backs, to sit on the bench and asked them questions regarding their age and date of birth. (Laury Dep. at 62-63; Booking Video NE at 10:42:02-10:42:48). At this point, Plaintiff Laury told Defendant Price that his handcuffs were too tight “so I kept asking like ‘Can you loosen the cuffs? They’re cutting my wrist. They’re cutting my writs. They are hurting.’” (Laury Dep. 63:18-21). Defendant Price ignored his requests and as a result Plaintiff Laury “began to stop, you know, complying to anything he asked me.” (Laury Dep. at 63:25-64:1). Plaintiff Laury also testified that Defendant Price was “pick[ed] on him” by telling him that he would never see his car again, and insinuated that Plaintiff Laury had tried to rape the women passengers in his car. (Id. at 64). Plaintiff Laury admitted to telling Defendant Price, “Yeah, you a tough guy when I got these cuffs on.” (Id. at 65:5-7).

During the booking process, Plaintiff Laury attempted to maneuver his handcuffs to the front of his body using a “jump rope action” with his arms because his wrists were in pain from the cuffs. (Laury Dep. at 65; Booking video NE at 10:42:48-10:43:00). In response to Plaintiff Laury’s attempt to manipulate or get out of his handcuffs, Defendant Price walked over and held Plaintiff Laury by the throat to gain control over him.[3] (Booking Video NE at 10:43:00-10:43:05).

Some six or seven minutes after Plaintiff Laury attempted to maneuver his handcuffs to the front of his body, Defendant Price directed him to stand up and began to search his person. (Booking Video NE at 10:50:46). After that search, Defendant Price removed Plaintiff Laury’s handcuffs and Plaintiff Laury began to turn around. (Booking Video NE at 10:54:30; Price Dep. at 27). Defendant Price testified that Plaintiff Laury did not follow his directions to place his hand on his head, so he moved Plaintiff Laury’s arm behind his back to regain control of him. (Booking Video NE at 10:54:36- 10:55:02; Price Dep. at 27-28). Defendant Price then instructed Plaintiff Laury to sit back down on the bench. (Laury Dep. at 67).

Plaintiff Laury sat down on the bench (Booking Video NE at 10:55:12) and was then directed by Defendant Price to hand over his jacket without moving out of his seat. (Laury Dep. at 67). Plaintiff Laury then stood up, removed his jacket, and “flinged it at [Defendant Price]”. (Laury Dep. at 67:15; Booking Video NE at 10:55:17).

Plaintiff Laury testified as to what happened next: “right after [Defendant Price] ran up on my side – on my right side, put his hands around my neck, started choking me against Devonte Campbell.” (Laury Dep. at 67:8-12). Plaintiff Laury further explained:

[h]e continues to choke me on the bench, and eventually he end up grabbing my hair and grabbing me and slamming me on the ground. Then when he gets me on the ground, and he bends my arms all the way back behind my back, puts his knee in my back, and I ...

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