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William Perry v. County of Westchester

November 29, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Naomi Reice Buchwald United States District Judge


Plaintiff William Perry brings this action against defendants the Village of Pelham ("Pelham") and Patrick Polese, a member of Pelham's police department,*fn1 alleging various constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and tort claims under New York State law. Presently before us is defendants' motion for summary judgment.

For the reasons stated herein, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.


Late in the evening of August 16, 2008, plaintiff was driving some friends from Mount Vernon, New York to Port Chester, New York. He was driving a car with South Carolina plates registered to his deceased brother, though the registration had been suspended. Plaintiff did not have a valid driver's license at the time and had not had one since 2005.

En route to the Hutchinson River Parkway (the "Hutchinson"), plaintiff passed through Pelham. He stopped briefly at a traffic light before turning right onto an on-ramp leading to the Hutchinson's northbound lanes. Plaintiff recalls that the traffic light had been blinking red, while Polese recounts that the light was unblinking and a sign was posted prohibiting right turns on red. On the on-ramp, plaintiff was pulled over by Polese. Either at that time or shortly thereafter, Polese was joined by a number of other officers.

The police asked plaintiff for his license and registration and had him exit his car. While conducting their investigation, the police sent plaintiff's friends on their way in a cab. At some point, plaintiff reentered his car to wait for the police to finish their investigation. Plaintiff claims that he then overheard some of the officers state, "The Sergeant is pissed off. I don't know what he might do with this guy tonight. This black nigger." Polese denies that any such statements were made.

Plaintiff then started his car and drove away from the scene, onto the Hutchinson, and the police gave pursuit with both their lights and sirens on. The chase ended when plaintiff crashed his car, damaging the front fender and passenger side of the vehicle. Polese then approached the car with his gun drawn and ordered plaintiff to exit the vehicle. Plaintiff did not move, and Polese reached through the open driver's side window, grabbed plaintiff by the front of his shirt, and pulled him through the window. Plaintiff was put to the ground and handcuffed, during which, he claims, he hit a rock or brick with the left side of his body and head. Plaintiff also claims that, while on the ground, one of the police officers present, though not Polese, kicked him and called him a "black mother fucker," and that he was then dragged to a police car.

Plaintiff was arrested and charged with a variety of misdemeanors and traffic violations. He pled guilty to the misdemeanor crime of Unlawful Fleeing a Police Officer in a Motor Vehicle in the Third Degree, N.Y. Penal Law § 270.25, in satisfaction of all charges, and was thereafter sentenced to time served and three years of probation.

Plaintiff filed the instant complaint on November 12, 2009.


I. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)) (internal alterations omitted); see also Quarles v. Gen. Motors Corp. (Motors Holding Div.), 758 F.2d 839, 840 (2d Cir. 1985). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

On a motion for summary judgment, the initial burden rests with the moving party to make a prima facie showing that no issues of material fact exist for trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330-31 (1986). Once this showing is made, "[t]o defeat summary judgment, the non-movant must produce specific facts" to rebut the movant's showing and to establish that there are material issues of fact requiring trial. Wright v. Coughlin, 132 F.3d 133, 137 (2d Cir. 1998) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322). In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, a court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and make all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. See Fincher v. Depository Trust & Clearing ...

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