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LAGRANGE v. RYAN

May 16, 2001

ARTHUR LAGRANGE, PLAINTIFF,
V.
MICHAEL RYAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN IS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS AN OFFICER OF THE KINGSTON CITY POLICE; CITY OF KINGSTON; PAUL TSUI, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS AN ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF ULSTER COUNTY; JOHN DOE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS AN OFFICER OF THE KINGSTON CITY POLICE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Arthur LaGrange ("LaGrange" or "plaintiff") commenced the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988 alleging violations of his Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Plaintiff also asserts pendent state law claims for assault, battery, false arrest, unlawful imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and conversion. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Defendants, City of Kingston police officer Michael Ryan ("Officer Ryan"), City of Kingston (the "City"), and John Doe*fn1 (collectively referred to in this opinion as "the defendants") have moved for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.*fn2 Plaintiff opposes. This matter was submitted for decision without oral argument.

II. FACTS

Plaintiff, almost 83 years old at the time of the events alleged in the complaint, and his wife Thelma LaGrange ("Mrs.LaGrange"), then 76 years old, resided at Fairview Gardens Apartments in Kingston, New York. In the spring of 1999, Victoria Castiglione ("Castiglione") and Byron Frayne ("Frayne") moved into the apartment above them. Plaintiff began to complain to management that Frayne made excessive noise at late hours. When his complaints failed to resolve the problem to his satisfaction, Mrs. LaGrange contacted the Kingston Police Department on May 8, 1999. Castiglione and Frayne also registered complaints with the police department in late May and June of 1999 against LaGrange, alleging that he followed Frayne through the streets of Kingston and threatened to shoot Frayne if he continued making excessive noise.

On June 29, 1999, Frayne requested a police escort to the apartment while he and Castiglione removed some personal belongings. Officer Ryan responded. At 1:30 a.m., he met Castiglione and Frayne in the parking lot of Fairview Gardens Apartments, where they advised him of the ongoing problem between themselves and Mr. and Mrs. LaGrange. Officer Ryan escorted them to their door and waited outside. At this point the stories diverge.

Plaintiff alleges that at approximately 1:30 a.m., he awoke from sleeping when he heard knocking at his front door. He grabbed his pistol and inserted a clip into it on the way to the door. He held the gun down against his hip and opened the door partially to see who was there. He saw Officer Ryan standing at the door with a gun aimed at his face. Officer Ryan ordered LaGrange to put his gun down, which he did. Plaintiff then claims that Officer Ryan grabbed him, pushed him down to the ground, put his knee over the middle of his back, and handcuffed him with his hands behind his back. He remained on the ground for approximately half an hour. He alleges that while he was being placed into the police car, he told Officer Ryan that he needed his medication because he could not breathe, but Officer Ryan replied that he did not need it.

According to Officer Ryan, while waiting outside for Castiglione and Frayne, he saw a door open off to his right and plaintiff was standing in the doorway with a gun. He ordered LaGrange to put the gun down, which he did. Ryan then claims he ordered the plaintiff to get down on the ground. When he failed to respond, Officer Ryan pushed him down, placed one hand on his back, and handcuffed him. He then radioed for backup and EMTs.

At approximately 1:41 a.m., EMTs arrived and evaluated LaGrange in the back of Officer Ryan's police car. Backup officers arrived and asked Mrs. LaGrange if there were any other weapons in the apartment. She acknowledged that there was also a rifle and a shotgun, and indicated where they were located. The apartment was searched and the guns were retrieved from the bedroom. The officers also secured a bag of cleaning supplies, ammunition, and the plaintiffs driver's license and pistol permit.

Plaintiff was transported to the police station and processed by Officer Ryan. The officer in charge at the time LaGrange was brought in, Sergeant Tremper,*fn3 allowed him to choose between being placed in a cell or in the booking room until his arraignment that morning. He chose the booking room, where he was secured to a bench by one handcuff. He remained there until his arraignment at approximately 9:00 a.m.

LaGrange was arraigned before a city court judge on the charge of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.*fn4 Following arraignment, the judge directed that the plaintiff be taken to the hospital and return to appear before him the next day. LaGrange was evaluated in the emergency room and admitted to the hospital. He also received a psychological evaluation. He appeared in court the next day, when the judge released him on his own recognizance and ordered him to report to probation weekly and submit to an examination by Ulster County Mental Health. On October 5, 1999, a grand jury returned a no bill.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment must be granted when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Lang v. Retirement Living Pub. Co., 949 F.2d 576, 580 (2d Cir. 1991). The moving party carries the initial burden of demonstrating an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Thompson v. Gjivoje, 896 F.2d 716, 720 (2d Cir. 1990). Facts, inferences therefrom, and ambiguities must be viewed in a light most ...


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