United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
L. Maloney United States District Judge.
late summer night in 2014, the City of Grand Rapids received
a 911 call from a very concerned resident who identified
herself to dispatch. She provided ample detail: A group of
young men, with one black, teenage male wearing white and
possessing a gun, was congregating in her neighborhood on
bikes. The caller reported that it appeared, from her view,
the suspect had a gun in his waistband and others agreed;
according to the caller, a group of neighbor kids dared not
to "walk up the hill" because they "saw a
gun." A call for help to respond to a gun in this
distressed neighborhood-the worst of the worst in terms of
violent crime in a city of 200, 000-was unfortunately both
routine and dangerous for officers.
officers located a group matching the caller's
description, one immediately recognized Jaylen Braswell-a
person known for his involvement in prior shootings. His
brother, Donovann, wearing white and digging in his
waistband, matched the description of the suspect with the
officers ordered the group to stop, everyone complied except
Donovann Braswell-who took off in headlong flight. An
extensive chase ensued through many yards and over many
fences. Officer Sean McCamman-who arrived on the scene late
but had listened to radio and dispatch accounts of the 911
call and chase-observed another officer draw his gun, but
Braswell continued to sprint away. Officer McCamman finally
caught up to Braswell in a narrow corridor between a fence
and house. Braswell started to climb the fence, and Officer
McCamman threw him to the ground. Braswell landed face down
and his hands were near his waist area. Officer McCamman,
fearing for his safety, ordered Braswell to show his hands
not once, but twice ....
point in the continuum of incident, despite Plaintiffs
attempt to contort the record, the Officers were fully
justified in their actions-and no constitutional violation
occurred. Officers clearly had sufficient reasonable
suspicion to justify a show of force and attempt a Teny
stop and seizure. However, mindful that the Court must
view the facts in the light most favorable to Braswell, a
less clear record of subsequent law enforcement action must
Braswell refused to comply with McCamman's second order
to remove his hands from his waistband area, McCamman acted
to protect himself. McCamman, who cupped his flashlight in
his hand, forcefully struck Braswell in the back of the head
with the flashlight-an application not disputed on this
record as deadly force. Braswell immediately felt pain and
placed his hands on the back of his head to shield himself.
Common sense and instinct support-and photographs
corroborate-Braswell's account. McCamman continued to hit
Braswell in the back of his head and the back of his (empty)
hands not once, not twice, but three more times.
who put themselves in danger to keep our communities safe
"are often forced to make split-second judgments-in
circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly
evolving-about the amount of force that is necessary in a
particular situation." Graham v. Connor, 490
U.S. 386, 396-97 (1989).
"[e]ven a split-second decision, if sufficiently wrong,
may not be protected by qualified immunity"; and
"even when a suspect has a weapon, but the officer has
no reasonable belief that the suspect poses a danger of
serious physical harm to him or others, deadly force is
not justified." Bouggess v. Mattingly,
482 F.3d 886, 896 (6th Cir. 2007); see Id. at 889
(" [W]hefher the use of deadly force at a particular
moment is reasonable depends primarily on objective
assessment of the danger a suspect poses at that
Court must reach this resolution because while the record
reflects Braswell's recklessness, a jury could accept
Braswell's version of the facts and conclude
McCamman's repeated, forceful strikes to Braswell's
head and hands, even after Braswell no longer posed a serious
threat, violated Braswell's Fourth Amendment right to
remain free from excessive force. Reckless conduct does not
justify an unjustified application of force.
while Defendants' motion must be granted as to Plaintiffs
Fourth Amendment claims for unlawful search, arrest, and
property seizure, factual disputes preclude summary judgment
on Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment excessive force claim and
state-law battery claim against Officer McCamman.
13, 2014, Plaintiff Donovann Braswell, a fifteen-year-old
black male, was walking along Dolbee Avenue in Grand Rapids,
Michigan. (ECF No. 77 at PageID.437.) At approximately 9:00
p.m., he ran into four friends. (Id. at PageID.507;
ECF No. 77-3 at PageeID.507.)
than an hour later, Officers Mead and Thompson were summoned
to the area of Dolbee Avenue SE and Dunham Street SE. The
dispatch was in response to a 911 call; a woman who
identified herself as Crystal Bobo had the following exchange
Caller: I need a police officer on the corner of . . .
Dolb[ee] and Dunham. It looks like a little boy got a gun in
his waistband. I don't know, but some people's
walking up the street saying he has a gun.
Dispatch: Did you see it or you just heard people talking
Caller: I heard people talking about it and then he keep
holding his waist line.
I don't know.
Dispatch: Okay. What does he look like, is he white, black,
Caller: He's black with a white shirt on and some blue
jeans, and there's a group of them right at the corner.
Dispatch: Okay. And about how old is he, do you know?
Caller: He look like he's about 17, 18 years old. They
don't see me, but I can see them.
Dispatch: And it was some neighbors that you heard saying
Caller: Yeah, some people walking down the street.
They're all on a corner house, on a porch-sitting on a
Dispatch: And do you-do you see a weapon or do you just see
him like messing around with his waistband?
Caller: Well, some people's was up there, and they was
scared to walk up the hill. They were like he look like he
has a gun. I can't see anyfhing. But a group of kids was
saying he has a gun.
Dispatch: Okay. And you see like a big group of people there?
Caller: Uh-huh, about like seven, eight little boys on bikes.
Dispatch: Does he have a bike with him? Caller: Uh-uh, not
that I know of.
Dispatch: So the neighbor-do you know if-I already have the
call put out, so we're going to have help out there, I
just want to ask a couple more questions before they get
there. The neighbors that said that-they actually said they
saw it then?
Caller: Well, one of them did, they was walking up the
street. It wasn't a neighbor. It was some guys walking up
the street saying oh, he has a gun. They getting ready to
ride off on the bikes.
Dispatch: Okay. Let me know which direction they go if they
do ride off on the bikes.
Caller: They-if they go down any direction, they coming down
Dolb[ee] Hill, Sherman (inaudible) to Baxter. Dispatch:
Towards Sherman Street?
Caller: Yeah, if they going to riding down-if they going to
ride down hill, that's where they most likely going to
Dispatch: Do you know, does he have a bike, did you say yes
or no? Caller: Yeah, he's on a bike now. Dispatch: What
color bike, can you tell?
Caller: I can't really tell. Like I said, I can see them
but they can't see me because I'm standing on my
porch. Dispatch: Just let me know if you see anything, okay?
Dispatch: Or if they do leave. We do have officers on the
way. Caller: Okay. Coming in my house, my daughter
(inaudible). Dispatch: Do you know who any of these people
are at all, or are they just-Caller: Huh?
Dispatch: Do you know any-who these people are at all, like
any of their names or- Caller: No.
Dispatch: -anything like that?
Caller: No, never seen these little boys in my life, never.
And I'm sick of this chaos that's going on at the top
of this hill. Okay, I'm going back on my porch. They
riding off. It's one, two, three, four riding off down
Dolb[ee] Hill all the way to Baxter. Dispatch: Going towards
Dispatch: Okay. They are heading that way?
Caller: Okay. There's one-he has a little boy on the
front-front handlebars of the bike with a red hoodie.
Dispatch: That's the one with the possible weapon?
Dispatch: Is he the one that's on the handlebars?
Dispatch: Or he has somebody on his handlebars.
Caller: He has-yeah, yeah.
Dispatch: Okay. Do you still see them out there or they-they
went- Caller: No, they-yeah, they gone.
Dispatch: Okay. All right. We have officers on the way out
there to check the area out. Just call us back if you see
anything else, okay?
Caller: Okay. Thank you so much.
Dispatch: You're welcome. Bye.
Caller: Yep, bye-bye.
(ECF No. 76-3 at PageID.351-56.)
relayed the report to officers, reporting a "suspicious
situation at Dolb[ee] and Dunham." (ECF No. 76-4 at
PageID.359.) Dispatch relayed the "report of a black
male with a white shirt and blue jeans at the corner who
possible has a gun on him": "[h]e is with a group
of seven to eight other males and now he may be getting on a
bike getting ready to leave." (Id.) Dispatch
also noted an individual wearing a "red shirt" who
the caller said was riding on the suspect's handlebars.
responding officers approached with a heightened sense of
alert-and understandably so. This 911 call required
responding to a report of "individuals [who] possibly
ha[d] guns" in a "very high crime
area"-indeed, "typically the highest in violent
crimes" in the City of Grand Rapids, rife with "gun
violence, gang violence, and drug violence." (ECF No.
canvassing the area for the suspect, Officers Thompson and
Mead observed a group of individuals walking, including
"an individual wearing a white shirt or sweatshirt with
blue jeans, and also, an individual wearing a red shirt. . .
walking next to a bike at that time, which matched the
description given by die caller" (ECF No. 76-5 at
PagelD.374-75 (emphasis added).) The dispatch record confirms
this contemporaneous identification: ...