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Donald v. Cieszkowski

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

July 2, 2019

ALLEN DONALD, Plaintiff,
v.
CRAIG CIESZKOWSKI, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF ## 12, 21)

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Allen Donald brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against three City of Ecorse police officers. (See Complaint, ECF #1.) Donald alleges that officers Craig Cieszkowski, William Marks, and Jarrod Fedea violated his Fourth Amendments rights by using excessive force when they arrested him. The officers have now moved for summary judgment. (See Motions, ECF ## 12, 21.) For the reasons explained below, the officers' motions are DENIED.

         I

         A

         Donald offered the following version of events. At approximately 3:00 a.m. on July 21, 2014, Cieszkowski, Marks, and Fedea were dispatched to the home of Rose Greeley in the City of Ecorse. (See Donald Dep., ECF #14-2 at Pg. ID 255.) At that time, Rose was involved in an altercation with her daughter, Seretha Greeley. Seretha is the mother of Donald's son. (See Id. at Pg. ID 256.) Donald says that a neighbor alerted him to the dispute between Rose and Seretha, and Donald went to Rose's home in order to get his son. (See Id. at Pg. ID 257.) When Donald arrived, the officers were already on the scene. (See id.)

         At some point, Donald and Cieszkowski began “bickering back and forth.” (Id.) Cieszkowski then complained that Donald and others in the vicinity were “acting like animals.” (Id.) Donald responded to that comment by cursing at Cieszkowski, and Fedea then ordered Donald to leave Rose's residence. (See id.) Donald complied with that command and walked “up the street.” (Id.)

         A short time later, Donald returned and began standing across the street from Rose's house with a group of people who lived in the neighborhood. (See Id. at Pg. ID 261-62.) Donald was watching the events at Rose's house and was not saying anything to the officers. (See Id. at Pg. ID 263.) The officers then crossed the street and approached Donald. (See id.) Donald says that when the officers approached him, he did not say anything to them and that his hands were out in front of him in the “surrender position.” (Id. at Pg. ID 263-64, 274.) Cieszkowski then “came up to” Donald from “about eight or ten feet away and bang, tased [him] right in the chest.” (Id. at Pg. ID 274.) The tasing “shocked” Donald and stopped him from moving. (Id.) Cieszkowski then “bull rushed” Donald and “slammed” him to the ground. (Id. at Pg. ID 264, 274; S. Greeley Trial Testimony, ECF #14-5 at Pg. ID 300, 308-09.) Donald says that Cieszkowski's actions caused him to “blank[] out” and lose consciousness. (Donald Dep., ECF #14-2 at Pg. ID 264.)

         At some point while Donald was on the ground, prone and unconscious, all three officers began beating him. (See S. Greeley Trial Testimony, ECF #14-5 at Pg. ID 300, 308-09.[1]) One of the officers hit him with a nightstick, one hit him with a flashlight, and all three hit him with their fists. (See id.) Donald was not resisting and “not reacting” in any way while he was on the ground and the officers were beating him. (Id. at Pg. ID 300, 310.) Indeed, “he wasn't even conscious” and “wasn't even responding” at that time. (Id. at Pg. ID 310.)

         The officers then began to “drag” Donald towards a police car. (Id. at Pg. ID 301.) At around that same time, gunshots went off in the vicinity. (See id.) Cieszkowski then threw Donald forcibly back onto the ground with such force that it “result[ed] in a left side[] facial injury.” (ECF #12-5 at Pg. ID 143-44.) Once the gunfire was over, the officers physically placed Donald in a police car and “took him away.” (S. Greeley Trial Testimony, ECF #14-5 at Pg. ID 301.)

         Donald suffered serious injuries as a result of his encounter with the officers. Those injuries included “multiple facial fractures” and a “prominent laceration” on his face. (Medical Records, ECF #14 at Pg. ID 284.)

         B

         The officers tell a far different story. According to the officers, after they arrived at Rose's house and attempted to “gain information from Rose about the incident, ” Donald “began yelling obscenities” and threatened to fight them. (Police Rpt., ECF #12-3 at Pg. ID 126-27.[2]) The officers then instructed Donald “several times to leave the area.” (Id. at Pg. ID 127.) Donald eventually complied with that command, but he returned a short time later and stood across the street from the officers. (See id.)

         Donald thereafter “continued to yell at [the] officers, causing [] residents to exit their homes.” (Id.) He also continued to threaten the officers and invited them to come “fight” him. (Id.) As “a crowd began to form” around Donald, the “[o]fficers approached Donald as he clenched his fists and raised them above his waistline.” (Id.) Cieszkowski then ordered Donald to turn around and place his hands behind his back. (See id.) Donald refused to comply with that command and “stated several times he wished to participate in a physical confrontation.” (Id.) Cieszkowski then “deployed” his taser, which struck Donald in the chest “causing temporary muscle disruption.” (Id.) Cieszkowski and Fedea then took Donald to the ground. (See id.) While Donald was on the ground, “[o]fficers [] had to force Donald's hands behind his back [because] he actively resisted [the] officers by pulling his hands in front of his body.” (Id.)

         As the officers attempted to handcuff Donald, gunshots went off in the vicinity. (See id.) A group of people then began “running up to where officers were on the ground with Donald.” (Id.) “Donald continued to resist the officers and kick as officers attempted to order the crowd back.” (Id.) “Donald was [then] handcuffed and officers had to pull him toward a police vehicle to secure him, as he was actively resisting and pulling away from the officers.” (Id.) At that time, “[s]everal more gunshots went off.” (Id.) The officers then “took cover and had to force Donald to the ground.” (Id.) As “Donald continued to pull away and kick at officers, Donald's head struck the ground.” (Id.) Finally, as the officers later attempted to put Donald into a police car, Donald continued to kick at the officers. (See id.) One of these kicks made contact with Marks and injured Marks' left arm and shoulder. (See id.)

         C

         Donald was charged with four crimes arising out of the July 21 incident: three counts of assaulting, resisting, and obstructing a police officer pursuant to Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.81d(1) and one count of assaulting, resisting, and obstructing a police officer causing injury. (See Register of Actions, ECF #14-6 at Pg. ID 314.) Donald was first tried before a jury. The jury acquitted Donald of the assaulting, resisting, and obstructing a police officer causing injury count, but the jury could not reach a verdict on the three counts of assaulting, resisting, and obstructing a police officer. (See id.) Donald was thereafter re-tried on the assaulting, resisting, and obstructing counts in a bench trial. (See id.) At the conclusion of the bench trial, the state court made specific factual findings related to the assaulting, resisting, and obstructing charges against Donald:

Number one, the three Ecorse Police Department officers were summonsed to 7th Street on July 21st, 2014 because of an altercation between Rose Greeley and her daughter, Seretha.
Two, Seretha Greeley poured gasoline on her mother's furniture.
Three, while at the Greeley house the officers had their first contact with the defendant Mr. Donald.
Four, the officers and Mr. Donald exchanged words in this initial encounter and he was told by Corporal Fedea to leave which Mr. Donald did.
Five, the police were also occupied with Ms. Greeley because she was out of control, intoxicated, and beating a motor vehicle with a bat. There was a continuing police situation on 7th Street on July 21st, 2014 because of the fight between Ms. Greeley and her daughter which resulted in Ms. Greeley being taken into custody.
Six, Mr. Donald returned to the area on the opposite side of the street from Ms. Greeley's residence.
Seven, there was a crowd of people on the street at this point.
Eight, Mr. Donald continued to taunt the police officers.
Nine, as a result of Mr. Donald's taunts the crowd began to grow.
Ten, because of the growing crowd and continued taunts the officers determined that Mr. Donald was disturbing the ...

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