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Fudge v. Jones

United States District Court, N.D. New York

September 19, 2014

ANTHONY FUDGE, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM JONES, Deputy Sheriff, Onondaga County; TIMOTHY HIMES, Deputy Sheriff, Onondaga County; METZ, Officer, City of Syracuse; FREDERICKA MENDOLIA, Deputy Sheriff, Onondaga County; DAVID BROWN, Officer, City of Syracuse; DARREN McLAUGHLIN, Deputy Sheriff, Onondaga County; TODD SHIELDS, Deputy Sheriff, Onondaga County; WILLIAM JUNE, Deputy Sheriff, Onondaga County; RICHARD McCARRON, Sheriff Sgt, Onondaga County; COX, Deputy Sheriff, Onondaga County; JOEL CORDONE, Officer, City of Syracuse, Defendants.[1]

ANTHONY FUDGE Malone, NY, Plaintiff, Pro Se.

ONONDAGA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF LAW CAROL L. RHINEHART, ESQ., John H. Mulroy Civic Center, Syracuse, NY, Attorneys for Onondaga County Defendants.

CITY OF SYRACUSE LAW DEPARTMENT SHANNON T. O'CONNOR, ESQ., Syracuse, NY, Attorneys for City of Syracuse Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

DAVID N. HURD, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Anthony Fudge ("Fudge" or "plaintiff"), proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this action against thirteen defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging civil rights violations stemming from his arrest on July 3, 2008, when he was apprehended after leading law enforcement officers of the City of Syracuse Police Department and Onondaga County Sheriff's Office on a dangerous high-speed car chase. Plaintiff contends that he was subjected to excessive force during his inevitable arrest, that law enforcement officers failed to intervene on his behalf, and that the actions of all of the named defendants resulted in the denial of his right to equal protection of the laws.

The complaint included Onondaga County, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, and Onondaga County Assistant District Attorney Lauren Lapaglia as defendants, but these parties were dismissed from the action on January 10, 2012, leaving six Onondaga County Sheriff's Deputies, one Onondaga County Sheriff's Sergeant, and three City of Syracuse Police Officers remaining.

Following the expiration of the discovery period, both the County of Onondaga Defendants and the City of Syracuse Defendants (collectively "defendants") moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 56 on all of Fudge's remaining claims.[2] Although he failed to timely respond to the motions, plaintiff submitted a general request for an extension of time, which was granted by text order on June 25, 2014. Plaintiff eventually filed a tardy opposition on July 28, 2014, to which the City of Syracuse Defendants replied. Both motions were considered on the basis of the submissions without oral argument.

II. BACKGROUND[3]

On July 3, 2008, members of the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office, in conjunction with the City of Syracuse Police Department, were patrolling high-crime areas in the City of Syracuse as part of a multi-jurisdictional task force known as Operation Impact, a New York State Division of Criminal Justice initiative intended to combat "gun crime and gang violence." County Defs.' Statement of Material Facts, ECF No. 57-17, ¶ 7 ("County Rule 7.1 Stat."); City Defs.' Statement of Material Facts, ECF No. 66-7, ¶ 5 ("City Rule 7.1 Stat.").

At approximately 9:25 p.m. that evening, Deputy Shields conducted a traffic stop of a 2006 Pontica Montana because it had "dark tinted windows." County Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶ 8; City Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶¶ 9-10. Although the vehicle, bearing New York license plate number "EGY - 5641, " initially pulled to the side of the road, the vehicle sped away when Deputy Shields exited his patrol car to approach the driver's door. County Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶¶ 10-11; City Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶ 10. Deputy Shields quickly returned to his patrol car, activated his sirens and lights, advised dispatch of the situation, and pursued the vehicle as it traveled at high rates of speed through stop signs, red traffic signals, onto and over sidewalks, the wrong way down one-way streets, and eventually into a fenced lot. County Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶¶ 13-17; City Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶¶ 17-20.

A number of other law enforcement officers had joined in the pursuit and soon attempted to corner the vehicle in this fenced lot, but the driver avoided these additional units, accelerated through the chain link fence surrounding the lot, traveled over a sidewalk, struck a "no parking" sign post, and rammed the patrol car driven by Deputy Cox and Deputy Mendolia.[4] County Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶¶ 18-21; City Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶¶ 20-23. The high-speed chase then continued through various neighborhoods across the city, with the vehicle disobeying numerous traffic signals before eventually entering the grassy area of a housing complex, where it traveled over a "large dirt berm" before stopping abruptly at the edge of the complex's parking lot. County Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶¶ 22-27; City Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶¶ 32-26.

Two occupants then exited the vehicle-the driver, later identified as Fudge, and a passenger, later identified as "Keith Lee"-and fled on foot.[5] See County Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶¶ 27-28; City Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶ 37. Deputy June exited his patrol car and pursued plaintiff on foot, issuing "several commands" to stop running and warning him that he would be subjected to a taser deployment if he did not comply. See County Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶¶ 29-30. Plaintiff did not stop running and Deputy June deployed his taser, striking plaintiff in the center of his upper back and upper right buttock. Id . ¶ 31.

The taser deployment caused Fudge to fall to the concrete sidewalk, where he was incapacitated for the duration of the taser's five-second cycle. County Rule 7.1 Stat. ¶ 32. However, plaintiff began actively resisting the efforts of "several Syracuse police officers" to arrest him.[6] Id . ¶ 33. When plaintiff failed to heed additional warnings to stop resisting, Deputy June activated the taser a second time. Id . ¶¶ 34-38. Eventually, the struggle ended and plaintiff was finally placed in handcuffs. Id . ¶ 38.

Fudge sustained minor injuries as a result of the incident, including puncture marks from the taser probes, a contusion on the right side of his head, and an abrasion on his elbow, but refused medical treatment and was held at the Onondaga County Justice Center pending arraignment on the various criminal charges against him. Id . ¶¶ 41-42. Deputy McLaughlin, an evidence technician, was summoned to the Justice Center to photograph plaintiff's injuries and observed plaintiff's puncture wounds and the abrasions on his head and elbow.[7] Id . ¶¶ 43-44. Plaintiff was initially only provided with an ice pack for his injuries. Id . ¶ 47. However, he was transported to Upstate Medical University Department of Emergency Medicine for further evaluation after reporting that he had swallowed a bag of crack cocaine. Id . The hospital examined plaintiff and discharged him with a diagnosis of scalp hematoma, cocaine ingestion (unspecified), and hypertension (unspecified). Id . ¶ 48. Plaintiff is currently serving a term of imprisonment resulting from his conviction on various state law charges stemming from this incident.

III. DISCUSSION

Fudge's complaint alleges that after Deputy June tasered him, rendering him "disabled and unable to resist, " he was "badly beaten, kicked in the head, face, neck, back and other body parts which caused [him] great pain." Compl. 5. Plaintiff alleges that he suffered "[a] swollen head and face, blackened eyes, [a] concussion to [his] head and other bruises and injuries." Id . Plaintiff's complaint enumerates six counts, but his first three claims-against Onondaga County, Fitzpatrick, and Lapaglia-have previously been dismissed, and counts four and six are duplicative. Accordingly, plaintiff's complaint is construed as alleging § 1983 claims ...


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