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Taylor v. City of Syracuse

April 7, 2009

MICHAEL TAYLOR; ROBERT MCNEILL; AND DAMON JOHNSON, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
CITY OF SYRACUSE; POLICE OFFICER ROSE; POLICE OFFICER MILLS; SERGEANT HOLTMAN; SERGEANT DERBY; AND UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICERS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Judge*fn1

DECISION and ORDER

Michael Taylor, Robert McNeill, and Damon Johnson ("Plaintiffs") filed this civil rights action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the City of Syracuse, Syracuse Police Officers Rose and Mills, Syracuse Police Sergeants Holtman and Derby, and an unspecified number of unidentified police officers ("Defendants"). In their Complaint, Plaintiffs generally allege that on July 15, 2002, outside of Anna's Restaurant and Bar in Syracuse, New York ("Anna's Restaurant"), that Defendants violated Plaintiffs' rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by (1) falsely arresting all three Plaintiffs for disorderly conduct, (2) subjecting Plaintiff Johnson to excessive force by pepper spraying him, and (3) discriminating against Plaintiffs based upon their race. (Dkt. No. 1 [Plfs.' Compl.].) Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment made pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. (Dkt. No. 32.)*fn2 For the reasons that follow, Defendants' motion is granted in its entirety.

I. LEGAL STANDARD

For the sake of brevity, the Court will not repeat the well-known legal standard governing motions for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, but will refer the parties to its decision in Proctor v. Kelly, 05-CV-0692, 2008 WL 5243925, at *3-4 (N.D.N.Y. Dec. 16, 2008) (Suddaby, J.).

II. STATEMENT OF UNDISPUTED MATERIAL FACTS

The following material facts are either undisputed by the parties, or are construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs (as the non-moving parties):

1. On July 14, 2002,*fn3 at approximately 10:30 P.M., Michael Taylor, Damon Johnson, Robert McNeill, John Coles, and Marva King left 604 1/2 University Avenue, and drove in two or three cars to Anna's Restaurant, located on Fayette Street in Syracuse, New York;*fn4

2. On July 14, 2002, Plaintiff McNeill was twenty years old and was served alcohol while at Anna's Restaurant;*fn5

3. While at Anna's Restaurant, Plaintiff Taylor ran a tab by giving the bartender his credit card, and Plaintiff Taylor's party of approximately eight people ate chicken wings and drank alcohol;*fn6

4. While at Anna's Restaurant, Plaintiff McNeill saw one or two other "black guys he knew of;"*fn7

5. While at Anna's Restaurant, Plaintiffs were approached by employees of Anna's Restaurant, including James Quinn (who is Caucasian), and were told to leave the bar because a member of their group had allegedly grabbed a female patron's buttocks;*fn8

6. One of the bouncers who approached Plaintiffs was African-American;*fn9

7. James Quinn was the manager of Anna's Restaurant on July 14, 2002;*fn10

8. James Quinn pushed Plaintiff Johnson inside Anna's Restaurant, in an attempt to get him to leave;*fn11

9. Once Plaintiff Johnson was pushed, a "pushing match" ensued between himself and James Quinn;*fn12

10. The situation became elevated because of the arguing back and forth between employees of Anna's Restaurant and Plaintiffs;*fn13

11. According to Plaintiff Johnson, the manager of Anna's Restaurant (i.e., James Quinn) pushed him out of Anna's Restaurant, while telling Plaintiff Johnson's party to leave;*fn14

12. Once Plaintiffs were outside of Anna's Restaurant, by the door, Plaintiff McNeill's cousin, John Coles, was struck in the face by an unidentified person; once he was hit, Plaintiff McNeill went to retaliate; however, the person who struck Coles had run away;*fn15

13. According to Plaintiff McNeill, once Coles was struck, "[t]hat kind of sparked the whole stampede of things," and "it was crazy by that point";*fn16

14. Subsequently, Coles fled the scene;*fn17

15. At approximately this time, police officers started arriving, and culprits started fleeing;*fn18

16. One of the police officers who arrived was Defendant Rose;*fn19

17. Plaintiff Taylor identified himself to Defendant Rose as a "retired police officer," and Rose responded, "Then ...


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