United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
H. CLELAND, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Scott Lancaster was arrested by Burton police officers and
transported to the Genesee County jail. He alleges that
through his arrest, transport, and detention, he endured
violations of his Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment
rights, and he brings claims against Defendants under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. Before the court are Defendants' two
motions for summary judgment, one each by officers from
Burton County (Dkt. #58) and officers from Genesee County
(Dkt. #59). The motions are fully briefed, and the court held
a hearing on April 25, 2018. Because the factual disputes and
legal issues in these motions overlap, the court will address
both motions in this order. For the following reasons,
Defendants' motions will be granted in part and denied in
should be no surprise that individuals involved in the same
event often remember it differently. See Greco v.
Livingston Cty., 774 F.3d 1061, 1062 (6th Cir. 2014);
see also Perry v. New Hampshire, 565 U.S. 228,
262-63 (2012) (Sotomayor, J., dissenting); New Jersey v.
Henderson, 27 A.3d 872, 894-96 (N.J. 2011). Social
scientists-and courts-sometimes refer to it as the
“Rashomon effect, ” named after the Japanese film
in which four witnesses to a crime describe the event in
contrasting (and contradictory) ways. See
Christopher Slobogin, Experts, Mental States, and
Acts, 38 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1009, 1012 (2008);
Greco, 774 F.3d at 1062 (noting that “Rashomon
and [summary judgment] rarely take the stage
together”); Messina v. Bonner, 813 F.Supp.
346, 351 (E.D. Pa. 1993); Zalutsky, Pinski, &
DiGiacomo, Ltd. v. Kleinman, 747 F.Supp. 457, 458 n.1
(N.D. Ill. 1990). This case is not one that turns on minor
differences in remembered facts-no discrepancies in the color
of the car, the distance between two objects, a person's
exact spoken words. Rather, this case involves wildly
disparate accounts of Plaintiff's arrest and detention.
And unlike most cases where the parties' stories diverge,
the versions of this event are most divided not near the end,
but at the beginning.
Defendant Chad Collier's point of view, this narrative
begins seated in his marked police vehicle, parked in a Rite
Aid parking lot. (Collier Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 319; Arrest
Report, Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 356.) An officer of the Burton Police
Department, Defendant Collier was on patrol. While sitting in
his vehicle, he “happened to look up” and see a
black GMC Yukon XL run through a blinking red light without
stopping, almost colliding with another vehicle. (Collier
Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 323; Arrest Report, Dkt. #57 Pg. ID
356.) He also noticed that the Yukon's license plate
light was not functioning. (Collier Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID
323-24; Arrest Report, Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 356.) Defendant
Collier immediately decided to follow the vehicle and pull it
over. (Collier Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 324.)
Yukon pulled into the parking lot of a nearby Men's Club.
(Id.) Defendant Collier followed, parked, got out of
his patrol car, and approached the vehicle; the driver's
window was already rolled down. The car had one occupant:
Plaintiff Scott Lancaster. (Id. at Pg. ID 325.)
Defendant Collier asked for Plaintiff's license,
registration, and proof of insurance. (Id.)
Plaintiff handed over his driver's license.
at this time that Defendant Collier noticed a pill bottle in
the Yukon's center console. (Id.) Defendant
Collier was able to read part of the name on the bottle:
“Betty.” (Id. at Pg. ID 326.) When
Defendant Collier asked Plaintiff about the pill bottle,
Plaintiff replied that it was his grandmother's-he had
run out of his own prescription, and he was using hers.
(Id. at Pg. ID 327.)
suspicions raised, Defendant Collier asked for
Plaintiff's consent to search his person and the rest of
the vehicle, which Plaintiff provided. (Id. at Pg.
ID 327-28.) Around this time, Defendant Nelson Lakey-another
Burton Police Officer-arrived on scene and monitored the
search. Plaintiff had nothing of note on his person; the
search of the vehicle, however, revealed three more pill
bottles-two with Plaintiff's name properly printed, and
one without a label but with Plaintiff's name and
“600 milligram Neurontin” handwritten on it.
(Id. at Pg. ID 330-31.) Defendant Collier informed
Plaintiff that he was under arrest for possession of the
pills. (Id. at Pg. ID 332; Arrest Report, Dkt. #57
Pg. ID 356.)
to this point from Plaintiff's perspective requires
winding back the clock. Because, Plaintiff says, he never
drove his Yukon in front of Defendant Collier. He was never
pulled over. Indeed, he was never seated in the car while in
Defendant Collier's presence.
Plaintiff's perspective, this narrative begins inside the
Men's Club. Plaintiff had driven there with a female
companion; while he was inside drinking a beer, his companion
told him that she had left her bag the car. (Lancaster Dep.,
Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 338.) He went out to retrieve it for her.
got to his Yukon, opened the driver's side door, and was
laying across the driver's seat searching for the bag
when he noticed police lights come on behind his car.
(Id. at Pg. ID 339.) Though he could see the bag, he
left it where it was-he stood up, closed the door, and locked
the car. (Id.) Two uniformed officers approached and
asked him whether he had been drinking. (Id.)
officers asked Plaintiff to put his hands on his car, and
they searched his person. (Id. at Pg. ID 340.) After
the pat down, Plaintiff was handcuffed with his hands behind
his back, and he was placed in the patrol car. (Id.
at Pg. ID 341.) Because of a preexisting back injury,
Plaintiff asked that he be handcuffed with his hands in
front, but the officers refused. (Id.) When
Plaintiff asked why they were arresting him, the officers
responded “Well, what do you got in your car?”
(Id.) They took Plaintiff's keys and started
searching his vehicle. (Id.)
to Plaintiff, the officers opened his glove box and found his
prescriptions. The prescriptions were all his-none of the
bottles belonged to his grandmother Betty. Plaintiff denies
ever discussing his grandmother with either of the officers.
(Id. at Pg. ID 341-42.) He also says that all of his
prescriptions were in the glove box-none were in the console.
officers did, however, show Plaintiff the bottle of his Xanax
prescription and told him, “You know, you can go to
jail for this.” (Id. at Pg. ID 342.) While
Plaintiff repeatedly asked to talk to his lawyer, the
officers taunted Plaintiff, calling him a
“hardass” and a “Daddy's boy”
until he was crying. (Id.) At no point did the
officers inform Plaintiff that he was under arrest.
(Id. at Pg. ID 341.)
parties' versions of events converge at this point in
their basic outline, if not in the specifics. Defendant
Collier transported Plaintiff to the Burton Police
Department. He says that Defendant Lakey followed in a
separate patrol car; Plaintiff says that Defendant Lakey
joined them in the same car. (See Collier Dep., Dkt.
#57 Pg. ID 334; Lancaster Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 343.)
Defendant Collier says that he did not speak to Plaintiff,
but that Plaintiff was nevertheless verbally abusive, cursing
and calling him a number of names. (Collier Dep., Dkt. #57
Pg. ID 334-35; Arrest Report, Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 356.) Plaintiff
denies being verbally abusive, and he maintains that the
officers were taunting him about how he was going to spend 72
hours in jail. (Lancaster Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 343; see
also Dkt. #64 Pg. ID 758.)
Burton Police Department, Plaintiff was allegedly
photographed and fingerprinted (Plaintiff maintains that he
requested documentation of this in discovery, but Defendants
refused to provide it (see Dkt. #64 Pg. ID 759)) and
the pills from his vehicle were logged into evidence (Arrest
Report, Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 356). Plaintiff says that the logged
pills were not his, that the Defendant officers did not log
his prescriptions, and that the Defendant officers claim to
have lost his pills (see Dkt. #64 Pg. ID 759)-but he
provides no supporting citation to the record.
Lakey then transported Plaintiff to the Genesee County jail.
(Lakey Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 363.) On arrival, Defendant Lakey
escorted Plaintiff out of the car, into the building, and
onto an elevator that goes up to the receiving area. (Kirby
Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 370.) Defendant Nathon Kirby, a Genesee
County Sheriff Deputy, was sitting in central dispatch and
watching the monitors there as Defendant Lakey accompanied
Plaintiff up to the receiving area. Defendant Kirby watched
as Defendant Lakey kept a grip on Plaintiff's arm, just
below the elbow. (Id. at Pg. ID 371.) Defendant
Pamela Sanchez, then a Genesee County Sheriff Sergeant, was
also watching the monitor. According to Defendant Sanchez,
Plaintiff appeared to be “pulling away” from
Defendant Lakey and “getting mouthy” with him.
(Sanchez Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 380.) Plaintiff denies this,
again without citation to the record. (Dkt. #64 Pg. ID 759.)
video presented in this case (submitted to the court by mail,
see Dkt. #59-12) shows Plaintiff and Defendant Lakey
exiting the elevator into the receiving area: Defendant Lakey
entered in front of Plaintiff, held the door open for him,
and turned his back on Plaintiff before taking a seat at a
nearby table. Though the video lacks sound, the testimony
establishes that he also instructed Plaintiff to have a seat
on the nearby bench. (Kirby Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 372.)
Defendant Lakey, having sat down at the table in the
receiving area, worked on Plaintiff's booking card.
(Id.) Plaintiff cannot recall ever seeing Defendant
Lakey again. (Lancaster Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 344.)
maintain that in the receiving area, Plaintiff was creating a
verbal disturbance, cursing and questioning why he was there.
(Kirby Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 373.) The surveillance video
shows the officers at first apparently ignoring Plaintiff and
chatting with one another. Most appear to have casual body
language, and at some points, none of the officers is facing
D. Bouchard, a Genesee County Sheriff Deputy, approached
Plaintiff and told him to stand facing the wall. (Kirby Dep.,
Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 373.) Defendant Bouchard conducted a pat down
on Plaintiff before removing Plaintiff's handcuffs and
performing a more thorough search of his person.
(Id. at Pg. ID 374.) Defendant Bouchard found no
weapons or contraband.
Bouchard then instructed Plaintiff to remove his shoes.
(Id. at Pg. ID 375.) Plaintiff removed his shoes
with his feet. He has two explanations for why: first, that
he was handcuffed and unable to take the shoes off with his
hands (see Lancaster Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 344), and
second, that he had a back condition that prevented him from
taking his shoes off with his hands, a fact he communicated
to the officers (see id.). The surveillance video
belies the first contention-Plaintiff was no longer
handcuffed when he took his shoes off. Because the video is
without audio, however, his second explanation remains a
possibility. Defendants maintain that Plaintiff
“kicked” his shoes off at them (see,
e.g., Kirby Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg. ID 375), a
characterization Plaintiff denies. At any rate,
Plaintiff's shoes landed on the floor near Defendants
Bouchard and Kirby.
to Defendants, Defendant Bouchard asked Plaintiff to pick up
his shoes, but Plaintiff refused. (Kirby Dep., Dkt. #57 Pg.
ID 375.) Defendant Sanchez advised that they should finish
their search of Plaintiff in a safe cell. (Id.) She
says she made this decision “[b]ecause of the totality
of the circumstances, the way [Plaintiff] came through the
elevator, his agitation, ” the verbal disturbance
Plaintiff was making, and Plaintiff's refusal to follow
Defendant Bouchard's commands. (Sanchez Dep., Dkt. #59-4,
Pg. ID 520.)
Bouchard pulled Plaintiff's arm behind his back and
escorted him down the hallway; Defendant Kirby and Defendant
Sanchez followed. (Id. at Pg. ID 376.) In the video,
Defendant Kirby can be seen reaching down to his duty belt.
Defendant Lakey did not follow the others, or at least not
immediately-the surveillance video shows him looking down the
hall before the video feed ends.
Kirby, Bouchard, and Sanchez escorted Plaintiff down the
hall. According to Defendants, Plaintiff continued to be
“verbal, ” complaining about being detained and
telling Defendants to leave him alone. (Sanchez Dep., Dkt.
#59-4 Pg. ID 524; Kirby Dep., Dkt. #59-3 Pg. ID 499.) Though
there was apparently video surveillance capability for the
hallway, there is no video showing Plaintiff being escorted
down the hall-for reasons unknown, there are gaps in the
video provided to Plaintiff, and this time span is one such
gap. (Gould Dep., Dkt. #67 Pg. ID 929-30.)
they got to the holding cell, Plaintiff got up on the metal
bench inside, sitting up on his knees and facing the wall.
(Kirby Dep., Dkt. # 59-3 Pg. ID 500.) Defendants Kirby and
Bouchard were inside the cell with Plaintiff; Defendant
Sanchez stood outside. (Id.) Surveillance video from
inside the cell shows that Defendant Bouchard directed
Plaintiff to put his hands on the wall. Defendant Bouchard
promptly searched Plaintiff, patting down Plaintiff's
pants and then removing his socks. Defendant Kirby held
Plaintiff's right arm against the wall during the entire
process. According to Defendant Kirby, Plaintiff was making a
verbal disturbance, yelling and calling Defendant Sanchez a
“c***.” (Id. at Pg. ID 501.) At some
point, Defendant Bouchard instructed Plaintiff to remove his
shirt. (Id.) Defendant Kirby maintains that
Plaintiff refused, necessitating multiple commands from
Defendant Bouchard and one from Defendant Sanchez.
(Id.) Indeed, Defendant Kirby says that as soon as
Defendant Sanchez told Plaintiff to remove his shirt,
Plaintiff “became very loud, verbal[ly] assaultive
towards Sergeant Sanchez, yelling at her, calling her the C
word, and causing more of a disturbance.”
video-though still without audio-tells a different story:
Defendant Kirby kept a hold on Plaintiff from the moment
Plaintiff put his hands on the wall, and Plaintiff removed
his shirt as soon as Defendant Kirby let go of his arm.
Plaintiff handed over his shirt, and Defendant Kirby
immediately pepper sprayed Plaintiff in the face. The following
stills capture a 4 second interval in the surveillance video:
Kirby says that he felt the need to pepper spray Plaintiff
because the officers had to take Plaintiff to general
population, and “at that point [Plaintiff] got pepper
sprayed for causing more of a disturbance and becoming
loud.” (Id.) He further explained:
“There's only so much we can do as far as we've
gotta get the situation under control because it's
causing a disturbance to other inmates, other deputies, and
could cause further actions as far as we don't
know.” (Id.) Both Defendant Kirby and
Defendant Bouchard testified that the use of pepper spray was
consistent with their department's use of force policy,
which permits the use of pepper spray in situations where the
officer or others are threatened or where necessary to quell
a disturbance. (Kirby Dep., Dkt. #59-3 Pg. ID 503; Bouchard
Dep., Dkt. #59-5 Pg. ID 543.)
video time stamps show that Plaintiff-through the search,
removal of his socks, and removal of his shirt-was in the
cell for 37 seconds before he was pepper sprayed in the face.
After Plaintiff was pepper sprayed, Defendants Kirby and
Bouchard physically forced him down onto the metal bench and
stripped him of the remainder of his clothing. They left him
naked in the cell. As they exited, Defendant Sanchez told
Defendants Kirby and Bouchard to get Plaintiff some clothes,
and she told Plaintiff that he could decontaminate his eyes
using the nearby sink. (Sanchez Dep., Dkt. # 59-4 Pg. ID
528.) Subsequent video shows Plaintiff using the sink several
times to rinse his eyes. Eventually he was provided with a
jumpsuit and sandals.
recounts a very different version of events, and one that is
at times internally contradictory. Plaintiff maintains that
five officers were in the hall with him, including “the
officer that brought [him] in.” (Lancaster Dep., Dkt.
#59-2 Pg. ID 467.) Contrary to the Genesee Defendants'
assertion that he was being “verbal, ” Plaintiff
maintains that he did not say anything. (Id. at Pg.
ID 470.) He says that at some point, one of the officers used
a taser on him, probably in the hallway. (Id. at Pg.
ID 469.) He was not resisting any of the officers when he was
tased, and he believes he lost consciousness. (Id.
at Pg. ID 470.) He also remembers being “thrown around
and beaten up” in the hallway, and his head hitting the
wall. (Id. at Pg. ID 471.) Plaintiff was pepper
sprayed for the first time while he was in the cell, he says,
but his testimony is unclear as to whether he was pepper
sprayed for the first time while wearing his street clothes
or his jail jumpsuit (the surveillance video suggests the
former). He says that the Genesee Defendants kept
calling him a “hardass” and a “Daddy's
boy, ” and he insists that he was not being verbally
abusive-instead, he says, he kept asking why the officers
were treating him this way. (Id. at Pg. ID 467.)
to Plaintiff, sometime after he put on his prison
jumpsuit-the record does not reveal how long-some
unidentified Defendants came into his cell and made him take
it off. (Lancaster Dep., Dkt. #59-2 Pg. ID 468.) Defendant
Sanchez was among the Defendants in the cell, and Plaintiff
was upset about undressing in front of a female. He called
Defendant Sanchez a “c***.” (Id.) At
that point, he was maced in the eyes a second time, then
maced in the genitals-all by the same Defendant that maced
him the first time-while that Defendant said “This is
for her.” (Id.) After the officers left,
Plaintiff, covered in mace, took off his jumpsuit and laid
naked on the floor. (Id.)
maintain that-besides Defendant Kirby pepper spraying
Plaintiff in the face, as captured by the video-none of these
events happened. Indeed, Defendants say that Taser Use Logs
from the jail show that none of the Genesee Defendants
checked out a taser on the shift in question. (See
Dkt. #59 Pg. ID 428.) Plaintiff responds that there is
evidence to suggest that Defendant Bouchard had a taser that
night, even if one was not checked out to him. (See
Hovey Dep., Dkt. #67 Pg. ID 933 (“Q. And Bouchard also
was carrying a Taser on the date of the incident? A.
Yes.”) And while the parties have submitted some
surveillance video from Plaintiff's cell on the night in
question, there are gaps in the timeline. There is, for
example, no ...