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McGrew v. Holt

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 20, 2015

JASMINE L. McGREW et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JAMES HOLT et al., Defendants.

STEPHEN L. LOCKWOOD, ESQ., DANIEL N. CAFRUNY, ESQ., Office of Stephen L. Lockwood, Utica, NY, for the Plaintiffs.

JOHN P. ORILIO, ESQ., MARK C. CURLEY, ESQ., MERIMA SMAJIC, ESQ., ZACHARY C. OREN, ESQ., Office of Corporation Counsel, City of Utica, Utica, NY, for the Defendants.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiffs Jasmine L. McGrew, Chianta C. Jenkins, and Fallon M. Bell commenced this action against defendants James Holt, Mark Rahn, Patrick Murphy, and Joshua Harrington, all in their official and individual capacities, as well as the City of Utica, New York and a John Doe defendant, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, 1985, and 1988 alleging violations of the Fourth Amendment for excessive force, and claims pursuant to New York state law for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. ( See generally Am. Compl., Dkt. No. 29.) Pending before the court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. No. 50.) For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. Background[1]

On July 14, 2012, at approximately 2:30 A.M., plaintiffs were in the parking lot of the Planet Blue Gentleman's Club in Utica, New York. (Defs.' Statement of Material Facts (SMF) ¶ 15, Dkt. No. 50, Attach. 19; Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 2 at 22.) At the time, the parking lot was "filled with people" and at least two individuals began "arguing." (Defs.' SMF ¶¶ 17-18, 26, 41.) A short time later, Utica police officers, including defendants here, arrived at the scene, and several fights had broken out. (Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 5 at 10-11.) The police gave verbal commands for everyone in the parking lot to leave, and subsequently began arresting individuals in the parking lot, including plaintiffs. ( Id. at 12-13, 21, 50.) The parties largely dispute what transpired next.

A. Bell

According to Bell, she was simply attempting to explain to police officers that she was looking for a friend so that they could leave the area. (Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 3 at 45, 47-48.) Officers responded by using a racial slur towards her, ( id. at 50), and then she was slammed to the ground face first by Rahn and Holt, ( id. at 53-55; Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 2 at 37-38). Rahn grabbed her by the arms while Holt pulled her hands behind her back and slammed her down to the gravel surface. (Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 3 at 50, 53-55.) Murphy contends that he subdued Bell by "us[ing] a soft hand come along in an attempt to restrain Bell, " and then "used a takedown to bring [her] down on the ground" after she had refused to follow his instruction to place her hands behind her back. (Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 18 at 6.)

As a result of the incident, Bell reported to the emergency room, indicating "moderate" pain which she rated at eight out of ten. (Pls.' SMF ¶ 85, Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 19; Dkt. No. 50, Attach. 12 at 4, 19.) She was unable to raise her arm above ninety degrees, (Pls.' SMF ¶ 86; Dkt. No. 50, Attach. 12 at 5), so she was issued a sling for her arm, (Pls.' SMF ¶ 87; Dkt. No. 50, Attach. 12 at 3). She also had cuts on her head and forearm. (Pls.' SMF ¶ 88.) Bell felt as though she had a shoulder sprain, (Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 11 at 32), and, because of her shoulder pain, she was referred to a bone specialist, though she never followed up with a specialist, ( id. at 36). Her shoulder hurt for two months after the incident. ( Id. )

Ultimately, Bell was charged with resisting arrest, see N.Y. Penal Law § 205.30, and disorderly conduct, see N.Y. Penal Law § 240.20. (Dkt. No. 50, Attach. 7 at 2.) Bell pleaded guilty to the disorderly conduct charge in satisfaction of both charges against her. ( Id.; Defs.' SMF ¶ 13.)

B. McGrew

McGrew testified that, on the night in question, she heard a "commotion" on the other side of the parking lot while she was "looking for [her] friends, " and that when police showed up, they immediately started "getting in people's faces." (Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 2 at 27, 30.) She was told by police to move out of the way, ( id. at 32-33), and was then, without warning, "slammed" to the ground twice, ( id. at 34-41). She testified that she was then handcuffed and dragged around the parking lot by the handcuffs to a police car. ( Id. at 43-45.)

McGrew also sought medical attention, reporting a shoulder injury and "moderate" pain which she rated at a six out of ten. (Pls.' SMF ¶ 80; Dkt. No. 51, Attach. 14 at 4, 6, 16.) An x-ray of her left shoulder revealed "[n]o fracture or dislocation." (Dkt. No. 50, Attach. 14 at 12.) She suffered abrasions to her left shoulder and forearm, and both knees. (Pls.' SMF ¶ ...


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