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Jackson v. Dupuis

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

March 1, 2018




         This civil rights lawsuit arises out of Plaintiff's arrest on January 12, 2015. On May 27, 2015 the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims but allowed him to replead his excessive force claim with greater specificity. (Dkt. # 22, Pg ID 280). Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint on May 28, 2015. (Dkt. # 23). Currently before the Court are Defendant James M. Vogler's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 39) and Defendant Ronald J. Dupuis's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 41). Defendant officers argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity, and that their use of force was objectively reasonable because Plaintiff was actively resisting arrest and refusing to move his arms to be handcuffed. Plaintiff maintains that he was not resisting arrest, and that Defendants severely kicked and beat him after he was handcuffed, face down on the ground. For the reasons stated below, this Court DENIES Defendants' motions.

         I. FACTS

         Defendants Grosse Pointe Park Public Safety Department Officer James M. Vogler ("Vogler") and Highland Park Officer Ronald J. Dupuis ("Dupuis") were assigned to the ACTION Auto Theft Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional task force. (Dkt. # 39-2, Pg ID 405, 408). On January 12, 2015, Vogler received a phone call from a vehicle GPS tracking service, which reported the location of a stolen vehicle in the City of Detroit. Id. at 408. Vogler conducted a LEIN check, which indicated that the vehicle was registered to Phyllis Knox and had been reported stolen to the Detroit Police Department ("DPD") on that date. Id. Vogler received information from DPD that the vehicle was taken in an armed robbery by a black male approximately 50 years old with a salt and pepper beard, wearing a black security guard coat and armed with a semiautomatic handgun. Id. Vogler notified the ACTION officers and began driving to the location of the stolen vehicle. Id.

         While en route, Vogler received a second call from the GPS tracking service reporting that the stolen vehicle had moved to a different location. Id. Vogler and other ACTION officers responded to that area and began surveillance of the vehicle. Id. At approximately 1:30 p.m., one of the officers notified all team members that a subject matching the description of the carjacking suspect, and later identified as Plaintiff Andrew Jackson, Jr. ("Plaintiff" or "Jackson"), had entered the stolen vehicle. Id. Jackson drove the stolen vehicle to another location, and the ACTION officers followed. Id. Jackson parked in a driveway, and three officers, including Dupuis, exited their vehicles and approached Jackson as he exited the vehicle. Id. Jackson fled on foot and, according to Vogler, he grabbed his right side near his hip. Id. Dupuis pursued him on foot, as the other ACTION officers attempted to drive to a position to intercept Jackson. Id. Dupuis then notified the ACTION officers that he had Jackson, and additional officers arrived on the scene within minutes. Id. Vogler was the first officer to reach Dupuis and Jackson.

         According to Vogler, he arrived to find Dupuis on the ground attempting to place Jackson in handcuffs, and Jackson resisting arrest by pulling his arms away and under his body. Id. Vogler saw Jackson pull his right arm under his body with his right hand reaching toward the pocket on the right side of his overalls. Id. Dupuis then yelled, "Give me your arm!" Id. Fearing that Jackson was reaching for a weapon, Vogler kicked Jackson twice in his right thigh, in the area of the common peroneal. Id. at 409. In his affidavit, Vogler attests that this is a common law enforcement tactic used to gain control of a non-compliant arrestee. Id. at 405. Dupuis was then able to put the handcuffs on Jackson. Id. at 409. Vogler conducted a search and discovered a semiautomatic handgun in the right pocket of Jackson's overalls. Id.

         At his deposition, Jackson denied any carjacking and denied having a gun on his person. (Dkt. # 44-1, Pg ID 739, 748). He testified that, on January 12, 2015, he had a flat tire and that his cousin paid a friend for the use of the vehicle, which happened to be the stolen vehicle, so that Jackson could go get another tire. Id. at 739-40. Jackson testified that he does not know his cousin's friend's name. Id. at 739. About an hour and a half after obtaining this vehicle, Jackson was approached by the officers. Id. at 739, 741. According to Jackson, he ran from the police because he was in violation of his parole. Id. at 741. He knew he was running from the police because he saw their badges, which the officers were wearing around their necks, while he was fleeing. Id. at 743. Jackson eventually got tired and could not run anymore. Id. at 741. Dupuis caught up to him, ordered him on his knees, and shot him with a taser. Id. Jackson testified that the taser did not work because he was wearing a heavy Carhart suit. Id. Dupuis then pulled out his service revolver and ordered Jackson to lie face down on the ground and put his hands on his head. Id. Jackson testified that he complied and that Dupuis handcuffed him. Id. Dupuis then began beating him. Id. According to Jackson, Dupuis hit him between ten and twenty times in the face, eyes, head, and neck with an object or his fist after handcuffing him. Id. at 742.

         Jackson testified that, after this initial beating, Dupuis contacted the other officers. Id. Vogler arrived within a minute and kicked him. Id. Dupuis and Vogler kicked him and punched him after he was handcuffed, and the beating lasted approximately three minutes. Id. at 742, 744, 749. Jackson knows that Vogler kicked him on his right side, but he does not remember how many times Vogler kicked and punched him or exactly where on his body. Id. at 749. Jackson testified that he knows Vogler also punched him because he saw this in a video of the incident on the news, but he has no independent recollection of this. Id. Jackson further testified that he was in a daze by the time that Vogler arrived on the scene. Id. at 750.

         A video taken by a third-party witness differs in part from both the officers' and Jackson's accounts of the incident. (Dkt. # 39-3). The Livonia Police Department Computer Forensics Unit extracted this video from the witness's phone. (Dkt. # 39-4). The video begins with Jackson face down on the ground and Dupuis on top of him (straddling Jackson with his back to the camera). (Dkt. # 39-3). Vogler is standing to the right of them. It is not possible to tell from the camera angle where Jackson's arms are in that moment. They could be behind his head, as he claims, or they could be under his body, as the officers claim. The video shows Dupuis punching Jackson four times in a row. He delivers the first two punches and then says, "Give me your f***ing arm, give me your arm!, " as he delivers the following two punches. Vogler delivers two kicks to Jackson's right thigh area, as Dupuis is yelling for Jackson's arm. Part of Jackson's right arm then becomes visible for a brief moment, but it is not possible to tell where the arm came from. One can hear the locking of the handcuff as Dupuis finishes the handcuffing. Dupuis then smacks Jackson with an open hand, gets up, and calls him a "f***er." He walks away, and Jackson is heard mumbling face down on the ground. Vogler then places a knee on Jackson's back and left arm and leans his body weight into his knee several times, pressing it down on Jackson's left side. Vogler states, "What did you say? Jesus? You're calling Jesus? Don't you dare! Don't you f***ing dare!, " as he smacks Jackson with an open hand in the area around his face. Vogler then backs away from Jackson. Dupuis walks toward Jackson again and turns him around on his back with some force while saying, "You think you can outrun me, b****? You think you can outrun me, b****?" The camera begins to shake, and a third officer walks into the frame, so it is difficult to tell whether Dupuis kicks Jackson or not while turning him around. A fourth officer arrives, and the officers help Jackson to his feet and search him. One of the officers states, "That was a justified a** whopping." Vogler eventually pulls a gun out of Jackson's right pocket. The officers then escort Jackson into a patrol vehicle. Photographs taken on January 14, 2015 at the Grosse Pointe Park Police Department holding cells show Jackson's right eye swollen shut. (Dkt. # 41-2, Pg ID 566, 658-59).

         On January 13, 2015, the day after Jackson's arrest, Phyllis Knox, the carjacking victim, identified Jackson as the individual who pulled a gun on her and took her vehicle the day before. (Dkt. # 39-2, Pg ID 409-10). Although Jackson maintains his innocence, he was convicted of several felonies, including armed robbery, carjacking, felon in possession of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, felonious assault, felony firearms, and assaulting/obstructing/resisting police officers, following a bench trial.[1] Jackson is currently serving a 47-year sentence.

         Michigan State Police investigated the incident and turned the investigation over to the Wayne County Prosecutor. (Dkt. # 39-5). The Wayne County Prosecutor determined that no charges would be brought against the officers, adding as follows:

There is no question that some of the actions of Dupuis and Vogler were inappropriate and, as an office, we obviously do not condone the striking of any persons in police custody, regardless of how minor that contact may be. Neither Dupuis nor Vogler should have smacked Jackson once he was handcuffed; however, it is my opinion that those actions do not rise to the level of criminal charges.

(Dkt. # 41-2, Pg ID 690).


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