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TAYLOR v. MAYONE

November 27, 1984

RODNEY TAYLOR, Plaintiff, against THOMAS MAYONE, Sheriff of Ulster County, DEPUTY JOHN DOE and SERGEANT JOHN DOE, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: TENNEY

TENNEY, J.

In this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1982) ("§ 1983"), plaintiff Rodney Taylor ("Taylor") alleges that defendant David Hyatt ("Hyatt"), a law enforcement officer, used excessive force when he fired his revolver toward Taylor, and that this use of excessive force violated his rights under both the fourth and fourteenth amendments. Specifically, Taylor asserts that the shooting deprived him of liberty without process in violation of the fourteenth amendment, and constituted an unreasonable seizure indicent to an arrest in violation of the fourth amendment. *fn1" Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages for mental and emotional distress. *fn2" Defendant argues that the shooting was justified, that Taylor's constitutional rights were not violated, and that Taylor has failed to demonstrate that he suffered injury as a result of the shooting. Defendant also asserts the affirmative defense of qualifired immunity.

 Because the evidence adduced at trial is insufficient to support a finding that Hyatt violated Taylor's rights under the fourth or fourteenth amendments, the complaint in this action is dismissed on the merits. *fn3"

 Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

 Based upon the testimony and evidence presented at a three-day bench trial, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a). *fn4"

 1. In January 1977, Taylor was a student living in New Paltz, New York. His parents lived in Rosendale, approximately seven to ten miles from New Paltz. Trial Transcript ("Tr.") at 184.

 2. On January 16, 1977, Taylor was aware that he was wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant for first degree rape. Tr. at 186, 187, 223.

 3. On January 16, 1977, defendant Hyatt was a corporal in the Ulster County Sheriff's Department ("Sheriff's Department"). Tr. at 321.

 4. In the early morning of January 16th, when the incident at issue took place, Hyatt was on patrol in the vicinity of Rosendale in car number 97, accompanied by Deputy Donald Tinnie ("Tinnie"). *fn5" Stipulation of Agreed Facts, dated March 1984 ("Stip."), at P4.

 5. Also during the early morning of January 16, 1977, James J. McNamara ("McNamara"), an off-duty police officer, observed Taylor outside a bar in New Paltz. Tr. at 271; Defendant's Exh. D. McNamara knew that a warrant had been issued for Taylor's arrest. Tr. at 272.

 6. At approximately 2:55 a.m., after Taylor had gone into the bar, McNamara called the Sheriff's Department. He reported Taylor's location and asked that a patrol unit be sent over as soon as possible. Tr. at 273-274, 283.

 7. The dispatcher for the Sheriff's Department related McNamara's report to four radio patrol cars from the Sheriff's Department, including car number 97, manned by defendant Hyatt and Tinnie. Tr. at 297, 325; Defendant's Exh. D.

 8. McNamara attempted to restrain Taylor from leaving the bar, indicating that Taylor should wait to speak to certain people who wanted to speak to him. Taylor reacted by stating that he had not raped the alleged victim, and then running away from McNamara. McNamara pursued him on foot, but lost him after a chase. Tr. at 275-276.

 9. McNamara believed that Taylor fled the area in a blue Chevrolet van. Tr. at 276.

 10. McNamara flagged down a New Paltz Police Department car, and reported the situation. The New Paltz unit communicated with its radio dispatcher. Tr. at 276.

 11. Two officers from the Sheriff's Department then appeared, and McNamara reported the situation to them. At approximately 3:08 a.m., one of the officers communicated with the dispatcher for the Sheriff's Department, and advised that Taylor might be headed north on Route 32 toward the Village of Rosendale, operating a 1968 or 1969 Chevrolet Malibu which was green or blue. Tr. at 276-277; Defendant's Exh. D.

 12. The dispatcher then relayed the above information to two radio patrol cars, including car number 97, defendant's car. Tr. at 299, 325; Defendant's Exh. D.

 13. At approximately 3:15 a.m., the New Paltz Police Department informed the Sheriff's Department dispatcher that one of its units was in pursuit of a blue Chevrolet which possibly contained Rodney Taylor. Tr. at 299-300; Defendant's Exh. D.

 14. The dispatcher then relayed the above information to three radio patrol cars, including car number 97. Defendant's Exh. D.

 15. The following information was also transmitted sometime in the course of the three dispatches from the Sheriff's Department: (1) Taylor was wanted under an arrest warrant on a charge of rape, (2) the alleged victim of the rape had been beaten, and (3) Taylor did not like police. Tr. at 303-304, 307.

 16. Before Hyatt started his shift that night, he knew that a warrant had been issued for Taylor's arrest. His knowledge was based on a teletype that had been posted in the squad room of the Sheriff's Department. The teletype stated that Taylor was wanted on a charge of first degree rape and that Taylor hated police. Tr. at 322.

 Although Hyatt has seen Taylor on several occasions prior to January 16, 1977, he had never spoken to Taylor, arrested him, or had any other personal ...


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