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Williams v. County of Nassau

United States District Court, E.D. New York

August 18, 2014

RASHARD WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF NASSAU, POLICE OFFICER MICHAEL CAREY Shield# 8526, POLICE OFFICER MONEL Shield# 8916, POLICE OFFICER BARNE Shield# 8905, POLICE OFFICER BENED Shield# 7696, SGT. ARNOLD, POLICE OFFICER JOHN DOE #1, POLICE OFFICER JOHN DOE #2, Defendants.

DECISION AND ORDER

WILLIAM F. KUNTZ, II, District Judge.

This 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action arises out of Plaintiff Rashard Williams's arrest outside a nightclub in West Hempstead, New York. Plaintiff alleges that he was illegally arrested and assaulted, while Defendants argue that the officers' actions regarding Plaintiffs arrest were legal and justified. Defendants Nassau County, Police Officer Carey, Police Officer Monell, Police Officer Barnes, Police Officer Benedetto, and Sergeant Arnold now move for summary judgment. The Court grants in part and denies in part Defendants' Motion.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed this action on October 20, 2010. Dkt. 1 ("Compl."). His Complaint focuses on Plaintiffs allegedly unjustified arrest and beating on October 21, 2007 by a number of Nassau County police officers. Id. at ¶¶ 21-47. From that incident, Plaintiff brings 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims for false arrest and excessive force against Defendants Carey, Monell, Barnes, Benedetto, [1] Arnold, and John Does 1-2. He also brings a Monell claim against Nassau County; 42 U.S.C. § 1983 substantive due process claims against all Defendants; § 1983 procedural due process claims against all Defendants; pendent false arrest claims against all Defendants; pendent assault and battery claims against all Defendants; negligent hiring and supervision claims against all Defendants; and failure to intervene claims against the individual Defendants. See id. at ¶¶ 51-117.

On April 13, 2012, Defendants moved for summary judgment, and on July 13, 2012, the motion was fully submitted before this Court. See Dkts. 19, 22-27. The motion was denied without prejudice on March 26, 2013, see 3/26/13 Docket Entry, and Defendants were granted leave to resubmit the motion on April 18, 2013, see 4/18/13 Docket Entry (Minute Entry for 4/18/13 Pre-Trial Conference). The re-submitted motion for summary judgment, which asked for dismissal of the entire action, was fully briefed on September 25, 2013. See Dkt. 32 (Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment ("Mot.")) at 8-9.

II. Defendants' Allegations

Defendants allege that Plaintiff is a 5'8", approximately 285-300 pound male. Dkt. 31 (Defendant's 56.1 Statement of Material Facts, hereinafter "Def.'s 56.1") at ¶ 65. At approximately 3:30 a.m. on October 21, 2007, Plaintiff allegedly exited Tabu Nightclub in West Hempstead, New York. Id. at ¶¶ 29-35. Upon exiting, Williams observed Defendant Sergeant Arnold speaking to another individual, non-party Greg Morell. Id. at ¶ 55. Arnold was at that time informing Morell that his comments were inappropriate and that they would lead to the issuance of a disorderly conduct desk appearance ticket. Id.

Plaintiff then approached Morell and Arnold, yelling "fuck them." Id. At this time, Arnold, along with Defendants Carey and Monell, told Plaintiff to move on because the situation did not concern him. Id. at ¶ 56. Plaintiff instead continued to yell "fuck you" and became loud and combative. Id. at ¶ 57. Defendants allege that Plaintiff appeared to be intoxicated, as he was slurring his words and was unsteady on his feet. Id.

Defendants Carey and Monell purportedly proceeded to take hold of Plaintiff's arms to remove him from the scene. Id. at ¶ 63. Plaintiff reacted by moving his arms away from the officers, pushing the officers "with all his might, " "swinging" at the officers, and "throwing wild punches." Id. at ¶¶ 64-65. Plaintiff also purportedly struck Monell in the shoulder with a closed fist. Id. at ¶ 66. Eventually, Plaintiff pulled away and ran down an alley toward the rear of the club. Id. at ¶ 67.

The Defendant Officers allegedly instructed Plaintiff to stop running, and Plaintiff eventually did so. Id. at ¶¶ 70-71. Arnold then verbally ordered Plaintiff to "get down on the ground." Id. at ¶ 71. At that time, there were three officers, spaced approximately five feet from each other, in a semicircle pattern around Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 72. Arnold repeated his command approximately five times, but Plaintiff did not comply. Id. at ¶¶ 73-74. At that time, Arnold (5' 9" and 180 pounds) deployed his OC (pepper) spray. Id. at ¶¶ 74-75.

Once hit by the OC spray in the face, Plaintiff allegedly became angry, pulled his sweater off, and set himself in a "fighter's stance." Id. at ¶ 76. Plaintiff began "lunging, throwing wild punches for 30, 40 seconds, [and] striking the officers with glancing punches, '" which caused the officers to "move in defensive positions to avoid the punches." Id. at ¶ 77. Carey (5' 8" and 170 pounds) caught up to Plaintiff, discharged his OC spray in two bursts, and ordered Plaintiff to the ground-again, to no avail. Id. at ¶¶ 79-80. As a result, Carey and Monell physically engaged Plaintiff, which caused Plaintiff to fall "face/stomach first in the alley, into the wall, " all while still fighting the officers. Id. at ¶¶ 81-84. The officers were able to subdue and handcuff Plaintiff once he saw blood on his t-shirt, fell to his knees, and began screaming. Id. at ¶ 85.

Once Plaintiff was handcuffed and an ambulance had arrived, he allegedly refused to speak, give medical history, or allow vitals to be taken. Id. at ¶ 89. He was taken to Mercy Medical Center, where he was noted to be "intoxicated, agitated, aggressive, threatening and swearing at the hospital staff." Id. at ¶ 92. Plaintiff kicked a hospital worker at the foot of his bed, and leather restraints were deemed to be required because of his "urgent, unanticipated, unpredictable, violent... aggressive behavior." Id. at ¶¶ 93-94. Plaintiff was then sedated for the safety of the hospital staff, id. at ¶ 95, and was treated for lacerations to his head and right ear, id. at ¶ 110. Plaintiff later stated that he sustained a "contusion to his head and right hand, " and that he retained those injuries "while struggling with the police." Id. at ¶ 87.

Defendants argue that Plaintiff's initial arrest was made pursuant to: Resisting Arrest, Assault in the Third Degree, and Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree. Id. at ¶ 96. According to Defendants, Plaintiff later pled guilty to Resisting Arrest and served fifty days at the Nassau County Correctional Center. Id. at ¶ 99.

In further support of their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants submit expert witness findings and conclusions from Sergeant Richard Keddy of the Nassau County Police Department. Id. at ¶ 101. Sergeant Keddy is an Academic Supervisor at the Nassau County Police Department Academy who supervises and instructs a number of police officer training courses. Id. at ¶¶ 102-04. Sergeant Keddy opines that "Williams set in motion a series of events that resulted in his injuries when he refused to cooperate with Nassau County Police Officers, " and that "[t]he use of force... was justified ...


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