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Kidis v. Reid

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

April 23, 2018

Nikos Kidis, Plaintiff,
v.
Jean Reid and John Moran, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Sean F. Cox United States District Judge.

         After driving drunk and hitting another vehicle, Plaintiff fled the scene of the accident. When approached by police officers, he fled from them too. In the midst of the chase, however, he gave up and decided to surrender. This suit arises from what followed: a knee strike to Plaintiff's legs followed by two to seven punches to his face during his arrest and the deprivation of water and medical care during his detention at the police station. Plaintiff has sued two City of Warren police officers under § 1983, alleging excessive force and deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Discovery has concluded and Defendants have moved for summary judgment, asserting qualified immunity.

         For the reasons below, the Court shall grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment in part and deny it in part. The Court shall grant the motion as to the deliberate indifference claim because Plaintiff cannot show that Defendants knew of and disregarded a serious risk to his health and safety. The Court shall also grant the motion as to the excessive force claim against Defendant Reid because Plaintiff cannot show that she was personally involved in the use of force. But the Court shall deny the motion as to the excessive force claim against Defendant Moran because there is a genuine issue of fact on whether Moran was present and personally involved in the use of excessive force during Plaintiff's arrest.

         BACKGROUND

         In August 2014, Plaintiff Nikos Kidis spent the day in Hamtramck at a Labor Day festival. Pl. Dep., p. 33-34. Over the course of the day, Plaintiff drank about ten to twelve beers. Id. at 34. Then, he got behind the wheel to drive home. Def. Stmt. of Undisputed Facts, ¶ c. Around 10:00 or 10:30 p.m., while Plaintiff was driving, the front wheel on the driver's side of his vehicle blew out, causing Plaintiff to collide with a vehicle next to him. Pl. Dep., p. 32; Christine Dep., p. 13. Plaintiff pulled over to the side of the road, after which he panicked and fled the scene on foot. Pl. Dep., p. 33. The driver of the other vehicle, Daniel Christine, called 911 to report the accident and informed the dispatcher that Plaintiff was leaving the scene. Christine Dep., p. 15-16.

         Officers from the Warren Police Department responded to the 911 call. Reid Dep., p. 18. While responding to the call, one officer, Defendant Jean Reid, encountered Plaintiff about a mile from the accident, walking briskly in the opposite direction from the scene. Id. at 21-22. Reid activated her emergency lights and, when Plaintiff continued walking, asked him to stop over the PA. Id. at 23. Plaintiff complied and went to speak with Reid, who had exited her vehicle. Pl. Dep., p. 36. When Plaintiff reached her, Reid smelled a strong odor of alcohol. Reid Dep., p. 24. She asked Plaintiff if he had been driving, which he denied. Pl. Dep., p. 38. Reid then told him to turn around and to place his hands behind his back, which he did. Reid Dep., p. 26. Once Reid put one handcuff on Plaintiff's left wrist, Plaintiff yanked his arm away, ripping the other handcuff out of Reid's hand. Id.; Pl. Dep., p. 36. Apparently disoriented, Plaintiff spun around a couple times, lost his footing, and then took off running. Pl. Dep., p. 37-39; Reid Dep., p. 29-31.

         Reid began pursuing Plaintiff on foot. Reid Dep., p. 32. Plaintiff ran until he reached a factory, upon which he jumped over a barbed wire fence to enter into the factory's yard. Def. Stmt., ¶ y. Reid did not follow Plaintiff over the fence but instead radioed for assistance. Reid Dep., p 34. Several officers, including Defendant John Moran, responded to the request and headed towards the area. Def. Stmt., ¶ w, x. Meanwhile, Reid returned to her squad car. Reid Dep., p. 36. From this point, the parties' stories diverge significantly.

         According to Plaintiff, he ran through the factory yard and jumped over another fence, after which he entered a deep wooded area. Pl. Dep., p. 42-43. At this point, Plaintiff gave up and decided to surrender. Id. at 42, 44. He laid down on his stomach with his arms out in front of him. Id. Before he laid down, Plaintiff did not see any police officers pursuing him. Id. at 44.

         After he laid down, Plaintiff heard two male officers cutting through the nearby fence. Id. at 45. He did not, however, see Officer Reid. Id. The officers approached Plaintiff and one of them thrust his knee into the back of Plaintiff's legs. Id. at 49-50. The officers then flipped Plaintiff onto his back and punched him about two to seven times in the head. Id. at 50-52. While hitting him, the officers said: “We'll teach you to f***ing run.” Id. at 54. As he was being punched, Plaintiff kept his hands on the ground and did not attempt to fight back. Id. at 53. Nor did he attempt to prevent the officers from handcuffing him. Id. at 144. When the officers finished, they handcuffed Plaintiff's hands behind his back, hoisted him up, and, because his legs hurt too bad to walk, dragged him to a squad car. Id. at 55-56, 136-37. While he was being taken to the car, Plaintiff saw two other male officers nearby. Id. at 57-58. Again, he did not see Officer Reid. Id. at 57.

         Naturally, Defendants' account is quite different. According to them, Officer Moran responded to Reid's call for assistance and headed towards the area. Moran Dep., p. 17. After pulling into a parking lot, he observed Plaintiff climb over a fence. Id. at 19-20. Moran, who was alone, exited his car and began chasing Plaintiff through an open field and into a dense wooden area. Id. at 22-24. Because the woods were pitch black, Moran had to use a flashlight. Id. at 45. Eventually, Moran caught up to Plaintiff and grabbed him, upon which Plaintiff attempted to break free. Id. at 25-26. In response, Moran delivered a knee strike to Plaintiff's common peroneal (a nerve in the lower leg), causing the two of them to fall to the ground. Id. at 27. While they were on the ground, Plaintiff tucked his hands underneath his body and kept them there, despite Moran's commands for Plaintiff to provide his hands. Id. at 28. So, to subdue Plaintiff, Moran pressed on his mandibular angle pressure point (this is a distractionary pain compliance technique involving pushing a digit underneath the ear). Id. at 29-30. Finally, Moran forced Plaintiff's hands behind his back and handcuffed him. Id. at 30. Moran did not see any other officers during the arrest and denies punching Plaintiff in the face. Id. at 30-31.

         Once Moran apprehended Plaintiff, several other officers arrived. Id. at 32. These officers, who were all male, did not include Officer Reid. Id. Two of these officers took Plaintiff out of the woods and placed him in a squad car, carrying him upright because he refused to walk. Id. at 36; Adkins Dep., p. 34. Moran did not have any further contact with Plaintiff, at the scene or at the station. Moran Dep., p. 38-39. During the arrest, Plaintiff never requested medical attention. Id. at 40.

         Reid, who had returned to her squad car and drove to the location, saw Plaintiff being escorted out of the woods by an officer. Reid Dep., p. 37-40; Sedlak Dep., p. 26. But the exact timing of Reid's arrival, and her location relative to Plaintiff and the other officers, is unclear. Reid testified that she was in the parking lot while the officers exited the woods with Plaintiff. Reid Dep., p. 38; see also Sedlak Dep., p. 26. But another officer testified that he saw Reid among the group of officers that was leading Plaintiff out of the woods, though he did not know when she had arrived or where she was relative to Plaintiff. Adkins Dep., p. 31-32.

         Although Plaintiff does not recall seeing Reid after their initial encounter, Reid testified that at some point after Plaintiff's arrest she spoke with him again, either at the scene or at the jail. Reid Dep., p. 40-41. Because Reid observed that Plaintiff had scratches and abrasions throughout his upper body and a swollen right eye, she requested that photographs be taken of his injuries. Id. at 43-44. Per Reid, Plaintiff never complained about any medical issues or requested medical attention. Id. at 41.

         Once he was brought out of the woods, two officers transported Plaintiff to the Warren Police Department. Id. at 61; Def. Stmt., ¶ zz. According to Plaintiff, when he arrived, various officers belittled him and made derogatory remarks. Pl. Dep., p. 61-62. Although he cannot identify the officers that made the comments, Plaintiff believes that the officers that beat him and the officers that transported him to the station were present. Id. at 62. While he was at the station, Plaintiff asked for water, but was refused. Id. at 63; Burgess Dep., p. 17. He also asked for medical attention because he could not walk and felt light-headed, but was again refused. Pl. Dep., p. 64; Burgess Dep., p. 16. At one point during his booking, Plaintiff almost fainted and was caught by another prisoner. Pl. Dep., p. 81; Burgess Dep., p. 18. Despite an officer observing this, and despite his requests for aid, Plaintiff never received medical attention when he was at the station. Pl. Dep., p. 107. He does not know, however, which officers he asked for water or medical treatment. Id. at 64-65. Nor has he identified the officers that were present for those requests or when he almost collapsed.

         For the incident, Plaintiff was charged with several crimes and eventually pleaded guilty to attempted assaulting, resisting and/or obstructing a police officer, operating with a high blood alcohol ...


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