United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY
L. LUDINGTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
January 29, 2016, Plaintiff Christopher Harder initiated the
above-captioned matter by filing his complaint against
Defendants City of Elkton, County of Huron, Officer Adam
Csanyi, Deputy Randall Britt, and Deputy Todd Schember.
See Compl., ECF No. 1. Alleging that Defendants
falsely arrested and prosecuted him for assaulting a woman
with a gun, Plaintiff Harder claims that Defendants violated
his Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights pursuant to §
1983 and committed the torts of false arrest and malicious
prosecution. Plaintiff also asserts claims pursuant to
Monell v. Department of Social Services of New York,
436 U.S. 658 (1978) against Defendants County of Huron and
City of Elkton. Id.
January 27, 2017 Defendants Csanyi and City of Elkton filed a
motion for summary judgment. See Mot. Summ. J. I,
ECF No. 26. On January 30, 2017 Defendants County of Huron,
Deputy Britt and Deputy Schember filed a separate motion for
summary judgment. See Mot. Summ. J. II., ECF No. 28.
For the reasons stated below Defendants' motions will be
Christopher Harder is a resident of the City of Elkton, which
is located in Huron County, Michigan. See Compl.
¶ 1. Harder was previously married to Maria Redmond, who
also lives in the City of Elkton. Plaintiff does not dispute
that he has felony convictions, and is therefore prohibited
from possessing firearms.
time of the relevant events, Defendants Randall Britt and
Deputy Todd Schember were employed by the Huron County
Sheriff's Department. Defendant Adam Csanyi was one of
only two officers employed by the City of Elkton Police
facts giving rise to Plaintiff Harder's lawsuit commenced
on February 13, 2014. On that date, at around 2:49 pm, the
Huron County Sheriff's Department received a 911 call
from a woman named Erica Sprague, who was calling to report
an incident that had just occurred at her apartment, located
at 124 Maude Street in Elkton, Michigan. See
Dispatch Audio Track 1, ECF No. 28-8. Ms. Sprague reported
that Plaintiff Harder had just threatened her with a gun and
had driven over her foot with a vehicle while exiting her
driveway. Id. She further reported that she could
not walk. Id. In response, the 911 dispatcher
notified Ms. Sprague that he was sending an ambulance and a
police officer to her location. Id.
asked by the dispatcher what had caused the incident, Ms.
Sprague explained that she, Harder, and Ms. Redmond were in a
“tussle” because she had been in the possession
of some of Ms. Redmond's property, and that Harder and
Ms. Redmond had driven to her apartment in an attempt to
retrieve the property. After Ms. Sprague returned Ms.
Redmond's property, she reported that Plaintiff Harder
“got in [her] face” and told her to stay away
from his family. Id. According to Ms. Sprague,
Harder exited his vehicle holding a 9 mm pistol, snatched her
phone from her hand, and threw the phone onto the driveway.
Id. She reported that Harder held the gun to her
face, and when she went to pick her phone up off of the
driveway Harder drove over her foot. Id. Ms. Sprague
initially identified Plaintiff Harder's vehicle as a blue
Blazer, but later clarified that it was an Explorer. Ms.
Sprague remained on the telephone line pending arrival of the
ambulance and police officer. Id. After an ambulance
arrived at her location the call was terminated. Ms. Sprague
was taken to the Scheurer Hospital.
on hold with Ms. Sprague, the 911 dispatcher contacted Deputy
Randall Britt to locate Christopher Harder. See
Britt Dep. 24, ECF No. 26-2. Within three to four minutes
Deputy Britt located a blue Explorer driving rapidly
westbound on M-142, about one mile and a half from the Laker
High School. See Britt Dep. 27-28. Britt ran the
license plate and determined that the vehicle was owned by
Maria Redmond. He therefore turned on his lights and pulled
the vehicle over in the Laker High School parking lot.
Id. at 32-33. Britt approached the vehicle and
informed Harder, the sole occupant of the vehicle, that he
was investigating a possible assault with a weapon and
hit-and-run as reported by Ms. Sprague. Id. at
34-35; Harder. Dep. 165. Britt then searched the vehicle for
a firearm pursuant to Harder's consent, but did not
locate any weapon. Britt Dep. 35; Harder Dep. 150-51. After
Britt finished searching the vehicle Officer Todd Schember
arrived in response to a request for backup. Britt Dep. 38.
asked by Deputy Britt about the incident, Harder explained
that he and Ms. Redmond had gone to Ms. Sprague's
apartment in order to re-claim some of Ms. Redmond's
personal property, and that the women had argued.
Id. at 36. He maintained that he had remained in the
vehicle and had not pointed a gun at anybody. Id.
Harder also maintained that he had not driven over Ms.
Sprague's foot, but acknowledged that she was in the
vicinity of the vehicle when he left the driveway.
Id. at 37. As Britt spoke with Harder, Officer
Schember called Ms. Redmond to obtain her version of the
incident. When Ms. Redmond's version of the events
largely corroborated the version articulated by Harder, the
officers informed Harder that he was free to leave.
Id. at 39-41. However, according to Deputy Britt,
they informed Harder that they were going to continue to look
into the incident and would potentially be in contact with
him again. Id. at 41.
releasing Plaintiff Harder, Deputy Britt drove to the
Scheurer Hospital in order to make contact with Ms. Sprague.
See Britt Dep. 41-44. Shortly after arriving at the
hospital, while waiting for Ms. Sprague to become available,
Britt contacted Dispatch and was informed that there had been
a witness to the events on Ms. Sprague's driveway. Britt
was not given any specific information about the witness.
However, Dispatch was referring to a 911 call placed by Gina
Heilig around 45 minutes after the incident. In the call Ms.
Heilig reported as follows:
Dispatch: Huron County 911.
Witness: Yes, I'm calling because - where I live
there's an apartment complex next to me, and I just
watched a guy pull a gun on a girl. And I don't want my
name brought up at all. I'm down at my mom and dad's
house because it like scares the shit out of me.
Dispatch: Wha-what was at the apartment complex?
Witness: A guy - there was two girls that were arguing in the
parking lot and then they went inside of the house - inside
of the apartment - and then the boyfriend pulled in, and he
went inside, and then when they came out the guy got back in
his pickup and the girl got back in her - on her side. And
the other girl musta said something and the guy got out and
pointed a gun at her. A hand gun.
Dispatch: Okay, where was this at?
Witness: It was on Maude Street. Umm, ah, I can't even
think of the name of the apartments, they're right next
door to me. But I can't think of the name of the
apartments - they're all the way down to the end - but,
I'm not there right now. I don't want any police
pulling in my driveway or anything because I know that
there's drugs related.
Witness: And so I don't want any police pulling in my
driveway to know that I'm, like, telling on them.
Dispatch: Okay, umm, let me get- what's your name
Dispatch: Gina, what's your last ...