503 F.3d 667 (8th Cir. 2007), 06-3293, Brockinton v. City of Sherwood, Arkansas

Docket Nº:06-3293.
Citation:503 F.3d 667
Party Name:Roger BROCKINTON, Appellant, v. CITY OF SHERWOOD, ARKANSAS, a body Public; Kel Nicholson, individually and in his Official Capacity as Chief of Police for Sherwood, Arkansas; John H. Scott, individually and in his Official Capacity; Alexander Kilgore, individually and in his Official Capacity; Jerry D. Bradford, individually and in his Official Cap
Case Date:October 04, 2007
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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503 F.3d 667 (8th Cir. 2007)

Roger BROCKINTON, Appellant,

v.

CITY OF SHERWOOD, ARKANSAS, a body Public; Kel Nicholson, individually and in his Official Capacity as Chief of Police for Sherwood, Arkansas; John H. Scott, individually and in his Official Capacity; Alexander Kilgore, individually and in his Official Capacity; Jerry D. Bradford, individually and in his Official Capacity; Christopher R. Cone, individually and in his Official Capacity; Vernon D. Blocker, individually and in his Official Capacity; Eddie P. Alvis, individually and in his Official Capacity; James S. Calhoun, individually and in his Official Capacity; Van Buren County, Arkansas, a body Public; Scott Bradley, individually and in his Official Capacity as Sheriff of Van Buren County, Arkansas; Randy Gurley, individually and in his Official Capacity; Russell Pridgen, individually and in his Official Capacity as the former Sheriff of Van Buren County, Appellees.

No. 06-3293.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

October 4, 2007

Submitted: September 28, 2007.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

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Terrence Cain and Morris W. Thompson, Little Rock, AR, for appellant.

Michael Rainwater and JaNan Arnold Davis, Little Rock, AR, for appellee

Before BENTON, BOWMAN, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

BOWMAN, Circuit Judge.

Roger Brockinton sued Van Buren County, Arkansas; the City of Sherwood, Arkansas; and several law-enforcement officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his constitutional rights. The District Court1 granted the defendants' motions for summary judgment, and we affirm.

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I.

We recite the facts as alleged in the light most favorable to Brockinton. See Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201, 121 S.Ct. 2151, 150 L.Ed.2d 272 (2001). Mike Wiley purchased a boat from Charles Mills and stored the boat at Brockinton's home in Sherwood, Arkansas. Later, Wiley borrowed $5,000 from Brockinton and told him to keep the boat as security for the loan. Wiley died in an automobile accident before repaying the loan.

On the day of Wiley's funeral, his girlfriend, Pamela Murphy, called the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department (VBCSD) and reported that she had returned to her home in Van Buren County, Arkansas, to find that her gate and fence had been cut down and that her boat was missing. Deputy Randy Gurley met with Murphy, who told Gurley that her neighbor informed her that two men had come to her home and taken the boat. According to Murphy, the neighbor had identified one of the men as Tom Travis, an attorney who had represented Wiley, Murphy, and Brockinton. Murphy provided Gurley with a purported bill of sale for the boat listing herself as a purchaser and Mills and his wife as the owners and sellers.2 Gurley contacted Mills, who stated that he had given Wiley title to the boat, but that Murphy had not been involved in the sale.3 Gurley made a report of the incident and forwarded it to his sergeant. The boat was entered as stolen in the Arkansas Crime Information Center (ACIC).

A few days later, Murphy contacted Gurley and informed him that Wiley's sister had told Murphy that she had seen the missing boat at Brockinton's home. Gurley advised Murphy to contact the Sherwood Police Department (SPD). Murphy met with Detective John Scott and told him that a boat had been stolen from her house and that it was located at Brockinton's home. Murphy provided Scott with a document purporting to evidence her ownership of the boat, but Scott did not verify its authenticity. Both Wiley's sister and a friend of Murphy's also told Scott that the boat was at Brockinton's home, although Wiley's sister did not indicate that the boat had been stolen. Scott obtained the theft report from the VBCSD and confirmed that the boat was listed as stolen in the ACIC. Scott drove by Brockinton's home and observed a boat on the property, although it was not fully visible from the street.

Around 4 p.m. that day, several SPD officers went to Brockinton's home. Because Brockinton was not present, the officers asked his neighbor for permission to enter Brockinton's property through her yard, but she refused. The neighbor later witnessed one officer attempting to enter her yard by climbing a fence, but he retreated when she made her presence known. At various points throughout the evening, other neighbors observed the officers attempting to enter Brockinton's property by climbing his fence.

Later that day, Scott obtained a nighttime search-and-seizure warrant for Brockinton's home. In the supporting affidavit, Scott swore that: (1) Murphy had reported to the VBCSD that a boat had been stolen from her residence; (2) Murphy had provided Scott with her written statement to the VBCSD in which she reported that her neighbor had seen two men taking the boat; (3) a friend of Murphy's had informed

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Scott that he had driven by Brockinton's home earlier in the day and had identified the boat that had been reported stolen; and (4) Wiley's sister had given Scott a written statement in which she stated that she had seen the missing boat at Brockinton's home the previous day.

Around 10 p.m. that night, Scott and several SPD officers executed the warrant and seized the boat from Brockinton's home, cutting his fence in the process. The boat's hull number matched that of the boat reported stolen. Scott contacted the ACIC and was instructed to release the boat to its registered owner. Scott released the boat to Murphy based on her claim to the VBCSD that she was the owner.

Scott left an arrest warrant for theft by receiving on Brockinton's door. Upon returning home, Brockinton called Scott and requested that Scott further investigate. Brockinton informed Scott that the boat had been at his home for several months as evidenced by the height of the grass around its wheels. Scott declined to investigate further and reiterated that Brockinton would be arrested. Brockinton voluntarily surrendered at the SPD station. When Brockinton's attorney, Travis, spoke with Scott regarding Brockinton's bail, Scott did not question Travis about his involvement in the reported theft, despite the fact that Travis had supposedly been identified by Murphy's neighbor.

The charges against Brockinton were dismissed after it became apparent that...

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