336 F.3d 515 (6th Cir. 2003), 02-1379, Adams v. City of Auburn Hills

Docket Nº:02-1379
Citation:336 F.3d 515
Party Name:Adams v. City of Auburn Hills
Case Date:July 21, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 515

336 F.3d 515 (6th Cir. 2003)

Kevin Lamar ADAMS; Bobbie Adams, Plaintiffs-Appellees,


CITY OF AUBURN HILLS, a municipal corporation, et al., Defendants,

John Backstrom, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 02-1379.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

July 21, 2003

        Argued May 6, 2003.

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        G. Gus Morris (argued and briefed), Cox, Hodgman & Giarmarco, Troy, MI, for Appellant.

        H. Wallace Parker (argued and briefed), Bloomfield Law Center, Bloomfield Hills, MI, for Appellees.

        Before: SUHRHEINRICH and COLE, Circuit Judges; CARR, District Judge.[*]


        CARR, District Judge.

        Kevin Lamar Adams claims that Auburn Hills, Michigan, police officer John Backstrom used excessive force against him in making a police stop. Officer Backstrom appeals from the district court's denial of his motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. We hold that Adams has not made out a constitutional violation against Backstrom. We therefore REVERSE the district court's denial of qualified immunity and REMAND to dismiss the complaint.


        A. Factual Background        This case arises from a domestic dispute that resulted in Officer Backstrom's shooting at the car Kevin Adams was driving. On the evening of March 8, 1999, Kevin Adams rented a room at the Motel 6 in Auburn Hills, Michigan, with an old girlfriend. Adams drove a Ford Taurus to the motel. Earlier that year, Geisha Breckenridge, Adams's ex-girlfriend, agreed to sell the Taurus to Adams. Breckenridge allowed Adams to use the car while he purchased it.

        In the early morning hours of March 9, 1999, Breckenridge spotted the Taurus at the motel. Using a tire iron, she smashed in the window of the room in front of the Taurus. Unbeknownst to Breckenridge, it was not the room occupied by Adams. Adams heard the commotion, however, and stayed in his rented room.

        Motel 6 employees called the Auburn Hills police department. Sergeant Glenn Heath and Officer Brian Martin responded to the call. They found Breckenridge in the back seat of her car in the motel parking lot. Breckenridge admitted breaking the window, and she told the officers she was there because Adams was with another woman. Breckenridge also said she wanted to retrieve her keys to the Taurus, although she admitted allowing Adams to use the Taurus.

        After Breckenridge was in police custody, Officer John Backstrom arrived at the scene. Sgt. Heath, as the higher-ranking officer, told Backstrom that his presence was not needed and that he could leave. As Backstrom was leaving, a motel guest asked the officer for assistance unlocking his car.

        Shortly thereafter, Sgt. Heath noticed that Adams was attempting to leave the motel in the Taurus. Sgt. Heath yelled to

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Officer Backstrom--who was across the parking lot near the exit--to stop the Taurus and retrieve Breckenridge's keys.

        According to Adams, as he drove towards the motel exit, Officer Backstrom walked in front of the Taurus with his gun in one hand and his other hand up for Adams to stop. Adams stopped the vehicle and stood halfway outside the vehicle with his left hand on the top of the door and his right hand on top of the car. Adams asked Backstrom if he had broken any law and the officer replied that he had not. Adams then told Backstrom that because he had not broken any laws, he was leaving. Backstrom yelled for Adams to get out of the car three times and held his gun near the driver's side window. When Adams did not move, Adams claims Officer Backstrom fired two shots into the driver's side door. As Adams drove away, Backstrom fired two more shots at the Taurus's left rear wheel and mud flap.1

        Though Officer Backstrom's shots had struck the Taurus, Adams was able to drive to the home of his mother, Bobbie Adams. Auburn Hills police issued a report regarding the Taurus. Pontiac, Michigan, police spotted the Taurus in front of Bobbie Adams's home. When police officers came to the back door of the home, Kevin Adams ran out the front door. Bobbie Adams told the officers that she had not seen her son, and she would not allow the officers to search the home. The officers set up surveillance at the house. Later that morning, Bobbie Adams allegedly...

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