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White v. City of Grand Rapids

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

December 19, 2019

JAMES OSAKWE WHITE, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          Paul L. Maloney United States District Judge.

         This is a civil rights action brought by a pretrial detainee under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), the Court is required to dismiss any prisoner action brought under federal law if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c). The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true, unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992). Applying these standards, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim against Defendant City of Grand Rapids. The Court will stay the action against Defendants Brown and Pierson.

         Discussion

         I. Factual allegations

         Plaintiff is presently detained and awaiting trial at the Kent County Correctional Facility (KCCF) on charge of assaulting/resisting/obstructing a police officer, causing injury, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.81d(2). Plaintiff sues the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) Officers Kenneth Brown and Briana Pierson.

         Plaintiff alleges that, on August 3, 2019, the GRPD received a 911 hang-up call. The dispatcher told police that a male and female could be heard arguing on the call. Defendants Brown and Pierson were dispatched to respond to the address from which the call was made, 756 Richmond N.W. According to Defendant Pierson's police report, when the officers arrived, Pierson went to the back of the building while Defendant Brown went to the front. The only unit with lights visible was Unit 1A. Pierson stated that she “stood on the porch and could hear a male arguing with someone inside [but she] could not understand what exactly was being said.” (Pierson Police Report, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.10; see also Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.) Pierson began knocking on the back door, in an attempt to get someone to come to the door. (ECF No. 1-1, PageID.10.)

         At the same time, Defendant Brown checked the front door and found Plaintiff sleeping in the hallway. Defendant Pierson joined Brown at some point. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Brown kicked him awake and that he told the officers that he had nothing to do with the 911 call and did not want to talk. Plaintiff alleges that he then walked away. He claims that, when he attempted to leave, Defendants used excessive force against him and falsely charged him with the offense for which he is in custody. (Compl., ECF No. 1, PageID.4.)

         In contrast, Defendants reported that Plaintiff woke up when they approached him. They asked Plaintiff to identify himself, to which Plaintiff falsely responded, “Mike.” (Pierson & Brown Police Reports, ECF No. 1-1, PageID.10, 11.) Plaintiff, however, refused to supply his full and truthful name and gave signs that he intended to flee. Plaintiff then attempted to leave, suggesting that he would wake up the people in Apartment 1A. Brown instructed Plaintiff to sit back down and provide his name first. Plaintiff again responded, “Mike.” (Brown Police Report, ECF No. 1-1, Page.ID 11.) Defendant Brown attempted to grab Plaintiff's wrist in order to place him in handcuffs, but Plaintiff pulled away and fled. Brown chased him and was able to grab Plaintiff outside the front door, but Plaintiff again slipped away. Defendant Brown repeatedly ordered Plaintiff to stop and continued chasing him. Plaintiff ran across Alpine Avenue, and Defendant Brown pursued Plaintiff. Brown eventually caught Plaintiff in an alley, as Plaintiff was attempting to climb a chain-link fence. Brown tackled Plaintiff, pulling him away from the fence and onto the ground. Once Plaintiff had been handcuffed by a newly arrived officer, Defendant Brown realized that he had suffered a dislocated knuckle on his right pinky finger and multiple abrasions during his attempts to stop and arrest Plaintiff. (Id.)

         During the takedown, Plaintiff suffered an abrasion to his left knee. Plaintiff alleges Defendants denied him medical care. He attaches his medical records showing that, both upon his arrival at the jail on August 3, 2019, and at a medical call-out on August 6, 2019, KCCF medical providers recorded that Plaintiff had an abrasion on his knee. (Ex. to Compl., ECF No. 4, PageID.31, 34.) When he saw the KCCF medical provider on August 6, Plaintiff received wound care and information about self-care and follow-up. (Id., PageID.35.)

         Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the physical and emotional injuries he suffered during the use of excessive force. He also seeks damages for his allegedly wrongful arrest, prosecution, and pretrial detention.

         II. Failure to state a claim

         A complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations must include more than labels and conclusions. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The court must determine whether the complaint contains “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a “‘probability requirement,' . . . it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).

         To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege the violation of a right secured by the federal Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Street v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir. 1996). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself, the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed. Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).

         III. ...


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