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Johns v. Harvey

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 1, 2018

GENEFER HARVEY, DANIEL MANIER, SANDRA HALE, ALEECE VEIT, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.

          Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti



         In the summer of 2013, Chelsie Johns went to the DTE Music Theater in Independence Township, Michigan to see a concert with a few of her friends. DTE security stopped her at the gate because she appeared to be intoxicated. Johns refused to go to first aid and security called the Oakland County Sheriff Department. A subsequent encounter between Johns and two deputies resulted in Johns falling down face-first, breaking her two front teeth. After she was arrested and brought to the jail, Johns alleges that deputies tore off her clothing during a strip search in view of male deputies.

         Johns brings this § 1983 case challenging the deputies' use of force at the concert venue and the strip search at the jail. A prior opinion dismissed all defendants except for the arresting deputies Harvey and Manier, and the strip search deputies Hale and Veit. Harvey and Manier move for summary judgment asserting that the Heck doctrine bars Johns' claims and that they are entitled to qualified immunity. Hale and Veit seek summary judgment claiming that the evidence does not reveal each deputy's specific conduct during the strip search and that a video at the station proves that the incident did not occur in the manner Johns alleges.

         Because there are genuine issues of material fact on the remaining claims, the Court denies Defendants' motion for summary judgment.


         On August 14, 2013, Johns and a couple of her friends went to the DTE Music Theater in Independence Township, Michigan to attend an all-day concert. (R. 33, PID 387; R. 37, PID 585.) As the weather was warm that day, Johns wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. (R. 33-1, PID 427.) At the time, Johns was in her earlies twenties, stood about 5'4” and weighed around 110 pounds. (R. 33-1, PID 416, 437, 445.) A few weeks before the concert, Johns had surgery on her right ankle. (R. 33-1, PID 427.) Johns, a certified nursing assistant, and her mother, a registered nurse, had removed the stitches and Johns wore an air cast. (Id.) Johns took Vicodin for the pain prior to leaving for the concert. (R. 33-1, PID 427-28.) She also took her crutches, but left them in the car. (R. 33-1, PID 428.)

         Johns and her friends parked in the lot surrounding the concert venue and Johns had one alcoholic drink. (R. 33-1, PID 428.) After tailgating for less than an hour, her friends started to enter the concert venue. (Id.) But Johns had to retrieve something from the car, so she told her friends to go ahead. (Id.) When she eventually arrived at the gate, event security denied her entry because they said she was too intoxicated. (Id.) Johns tried to explain that her unsteady gait was due to her recent ankle surgery. (R. 33-1, PID 429.) Johns concedes that she argued with DTE security because she disagreed that she was intoxicated. (Id.) DTE security asked Johns to go to the first aid station, but she refused, telling them that she is a certified nursing assistant and that she did not want medical treatment. (R. 33-1, PID 430-31.)

         At this point, there are material differences between Johns' account of events and the accounts of the deputies. The Court will recount both parties' versions, recognizing that it has to view the facts in the light most favorable to Johns.

         First, the Defendants' version. Oakland County Sheriff Department Deputy Genefer Harvey was on overtime detail at DTE the day of the concert. (R. 37-7, PID 708.) DTE Security called her and her partner, Deputy Daniel Manier, to go to the parking lot because a highly intoxicated female was refusing to go to first aid. (R. 37-7, PID 709.) When Harvey and Manier arrived, they found Johns sitting in a puddle of an unknown substance. (R. 37-7, PID 710.) Harvey thought Johns was intoxicated because of her slurred speech and body movements. (R. 37-7, PID 711.) Johns refused to go to the first aid station when asked, so Harvey and Manier lifted her up, placed her into a wheelchair, and wheeled her to first aid. (R. 37-7, PID 712-14.) Johns was swearing the entire time. (R. 37-7, PID 712.) The deputies would have let Johns go if she had a friend to take her home, but none were sober enough to do so. (R. 37-7, PID 713-14.) Harvey did not believe Johns was in a condition to be left in the parking lot by herself. (R. 37-7, PID 711-12.)

         Due to John's behavior, the doctor at the first aid station asked Harvey and Manier to get Johns “out of here” because “he wasn't dealing with her.” (R. 37-7, PID 714.) A friend of Johns, who was with her at the time, wanted to go into the venue, but could not because Johns had his cell phone and credit card. (R. 37-7, PID 714-15.) Harvey thus asked Johns for the cell phone and credit card. (Id.) Johns “told her to fuck off.” (Id.) Harvey then leaned Johns forward in her wheelchair to check for the phone and credit card and Johns slapped her arm. (Id.) Harvey and Manier then stood Johns up and handcuffed her against a wall. (R. 37-7, PID 715.)

         As they walked her toward the sheriff's trailer, Johns began to pull away. (R. 37-7, PID 716.) Harvey tried to pat her down. (Id.) Then Johns “began to kick.” (Id.) She kicked Manier in the thigh with her left foot. (Id.) Johns then went to kick Harvey with her right foot and Harvey pulled her to the ground, attempting to pull her to the knees in order to “prone [her] out.” (Id.) Instead, Johns fell on her face. (Id.) Once on the ground, Harvey put one hand on Johns' back and one on her shoulder, and Manier held down her legs. (R. 37-7, PID 717.)

         Other deputies arrived with a patrol car, and they picked Johns up-while she argued and “wiggl[ed]”-and put her in the car. (R. 37-7, PID 717.) Harvey reported that the transporting deputy told her they called the jail in transit because Johns was trying to kick the windows out of the car and asked that the cell extraction team be in place when they arrived. (R. 37-7, PID 717- 18.) The extraction team included both men and women. (R. 37-7, PID 718.)

         Oakland County Sheriff Deputies Hale and Veit were on duty the afternoon Johns arrived. They acknowledge their signatures on an Authorization for Strip Search form, naming them as the people authorized to conduct and/or assist in strip searching Johns. (R. 41; R. 37-5, PID 682-83; R. 37-6, PID 702.) Hale stated that forms are sometimes filled out in advance, even if a strip search is never conducted (R. 37-5, PID 691-92), but Veit testified that she would only sign the form after a search was done (R. 37-6, PID 702). Hale testified that strip searches of women are always conducted in the women's annex and either take place in the strip search room, or, if the person is combative, in the detoxification unit (DTU) room. (R. 37-5, PID 688.) The DTU room has windows. (Id.) Neither Hale nor Veit have any present memory of whether or not they strip searched Johns. (R. 37-5, PID 682-83; R. 37-6, PID 699.)

         Johns has a different account of the events.

         Like DTE security, deputies Harvey and Manier also asked Johns to go to the first aid station, and after she again refused, they told her that she could either go to the first aid station or be arrested. (R. 33-1, PID 430.) Harvey and Manier then escorted her to the first aid station. (R.33-1, PID 430.) Johns refused medical treatment. (Id.) While she did not get belligerent-and denies ever slapping Harvey-she admits that she got “irritated, aggravated and may have raised her voice.” (R. 33-1, PID 430-31.) Harvey and Manier then started to escort her away from the first aid station. (R. 33-1, PID 432.)

         After one of the deputies said something that “sent [her] over the edge, ” Johns “was like, you know what, dude, fuck you.” (R. 33-1, PID 432.) After that, Johns recounts that one of the deputies “literally hip-tossed her face first on the pavement” causing her to fall on her face and break her two front teeth in half. (Id.) Once on the ground, the same deputy “shoved his knee into [her] neck and then handcuffed [her].” (Id.) After seeing her teeth on the ground, she “lost it” and called the deputies “probably every name in the book.” (R. 33-1, PID 433.) She denies kicking the deputies and says it “would have been physically impossible” given the condition of her ankle. (R. 33-1, PID 432.) A different deputy arrived to take her to the county jail. (Id.)

         During the ride, Johns “bawl[ed] [her] eyes out.” (R. 33-1, PID 433.) A group of male and female deputies were waiting for her in the station's sally port when she arrived and pulled her out of the car. (R. 33-1, PID 435-36.) Shortly after being pulled from the car, one or more deputies began “ripping” off her clothing while the surrounding group of deputies laughed. (R. 33-1, PID 436.) While removing her clothing, the deputies broke her bra, broke the zipper on her shorts, and ripped her shirt. (R. 33-1, PID 435-36.) All of her clothing was removed. (R. 33-1, PID 437.) Deputies then “threw” a pair of grey, inmate clothing at her and Johns was allowed to dress herself. (R. 33-1, PID 436-37.) Johns is “pretty sure” that male deputies were present the entire time. (R. 33-1, PID 437.) Because she was faced down, Johns is not sure where the strip search took place, but she believes it happened in a larger space and occurred somewhere close to the car soon after she was removed. (R. 33-1, PID 436.) Johns eventually pled guilty to drunk and disorderly conduct, as well as attempted resisting or obstructing a police officer. (R. 33-1, PID 440; R. 33-3, PID 480.)


         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is material only if it might affect the outcome of the case under the governing law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). On a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence, and any reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citations omitted); Redding v. St. Edward, 241 F.3d 530, 531 (6th Cir. 2001).


         Harvey and Manier argue that Johns' excessive-force claim should be dismissed for two reasons: because they are entitled to qualified immunity and because Heck v. Humphrey bars relief. The Court denied the Heck argument in its oral ruling on ...

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