United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
The Estate of Michaelangelo A. Jackson, deceased, et al., Plaintiffs,
Richard Billingslea, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT [ECF No. 27]
Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge.
DeJuan Harris (“Harris”) led police officers on a
car chase before he crashed into a residential neighborhood
killing and injuring children playing outside. Plaintiffs
represent these children. They bring claims against the
officers, City of Detroit, and unnamed supervisors.
allege state created danger, excessive force, failure to
intervene, municipal liability, and supervisory liability.
But-because they fail to create genuine issues of fact to
establish essential elements for each claim-the Court
GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary
25, 2015, Detroit Police Department's (“DPD”)
officers Richard Billingslea (“Billingslea”),
Hakeem Patterson (“Patterson”), and Steven Fultz
(“Fultz”) patrolled in a marked scout car.
Billingslea drove; Fultz was the front passenger; Patterson
sat in the rear. The scout car was not equipped with a camera
or working radio.
drove a red Chevrolet Camaro westbound on Munich and
Chatworth. Fultz saw Harris holding a black semi-automatic
handgun while driving. Fultz alerted Billingslea and
Patterson and then called dispatch. Billingslea activated
lights and sirens and drove towards Harris; Harris fled and
rapidly drove the Camaro northbound on Nottingham and E.
losing sight of the Camaro, the officers discontinued the
search. However, when they saw a dust/smoke cloud on
Nottingham and E. Warren they drove towards it.
the Camaro had crashed in a residential neighborhood on
Nottingham, killing three-year-old Makiah Jackson and
six-year-old Michaelangelo Jackson. The crash also injured
Plaintiffs Lakendra Gardner, Z.G., I.W., and D.A.
parties agree that: (1) the officers discontinued the car
chase after they lost sight of the Camaro, and (2) no gun was
found. However, the parties disagree about whether the scout
car hit the Camaro causing it to crash. Defendants say the
scout car never contacted the Camaro; Plaintiffs say it did.
Plaintiffs bring this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§
1983 and 1988 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the
Constitution for state created danger, excessive force,
failure to intervene, municipal liability, and supervisory
liability. Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment.
also have a case pending in Wayne County Circuit Court
alleging these same facts against the officers for
negligence, and claims against the City of Detroit, for
negligence, owner liability, and vicarious liability.
party moving for summary judgment has the initial burden to
“demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
323 (1986). There is an issue of material fact “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
“[A] complete failure of proof concerning an essential
element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders
all other facts immaterial.” Celotex, 477 U.S.
judgment should not be granted if the nonmoving party
presents evidence to show a genuine issue of material fact.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The nonmoving party's evidence must be
viewed in the light most favorable to it. Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007) (quoting United
States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962)).
Plaintiffs' claims arise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
That statute allows individuals to bring federal claims
against state actors who deprive them “. . . of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws . . . . ” 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 (West 1996).
Plaintiffs Do Not Allege A “Specific Danger” To
Sustain A State Created Danger Claim
bring a § 1983 state created danger claim. They say the
officers exposed them to an unreasonable risk of harm when
they conducted a high-speed car chase in a residential
neighborhood. Plaintiffs allege that the children killed and
injured were a discrete group of individuals who were far
more vulnerable to harm, and consequently were deprived of
life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
say if anything, the car chase created danger to the public
at large; it did not ...