583 F.3d 356 (6th Cir. 2009), 08-3252, Harris v. City of Circleville

Docket Nº:08-3252.
Citation:583 F.3d 356
Opinion Judge:COX, District Judge.
Party Name:William HARRIS, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CITY OF CIRCLEVILLE, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Attorney:John T. McLandrich, Mazanec, Raskin, Ryder & Keller Co., L.P.A., Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellants. Charles H. Cooper, Jr., Cooper & Elliott, LLC, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee. John T. McLandrich, Frank H. Scialdone, Mazanec, Raskin, Ryder & Keller Co., L.P.A., Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellants. Char...
Judge Panel:Before: BATCHELDER, Chief Judge; CLAY, Circuit Judge; COX, District Judge.[*] COX, D.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which BATCHELDER, C.J., joined. CLAY, J. (pp. 370-74), delivered a separate concurring opinion. CLAY, Circuit Judge, concurring.
Case Date:October 02, 2009
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 356

583 F.3d 356 (6th Cir. 2009)

William HARRIS, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

CITY OF CIRCLEVILLE, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 08-3252.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.

October 2, 2009

Argued: March 13, 2009.

Page 357

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 358

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 359

ARGUED:

John T. McLandrich, Mazanec, Raskin, Ryder & Keller Co., L.P.A., Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellants.

Charles H. Cooper, Jr., Cooper & Elliott, LLC, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

John T. McLandrich, Frank H. Scialdone, Mazanec, Raskin, Ryder & Keller Co., L.P.A., Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellants.

Charles H. Cooper, Jr., John C. Camillus, Cooper & Elliott, LLC, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellee.

Before: BATCHELDER, Chief Judge; CLAY, Circuit Judge; COX, District Judge.[*]

COX, D.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which BATCHELDER, C.J., joined. CLAY, J. (pp. 370-74), delivered a separate concurring opinion.

OPINION

COX, District Judge.

Plaintiff William R. Harris, Jr. (" Harris" ) filed state law claims and claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that he was subjected to excessive force and inadequate medical care, and discriminated against on account of his race, in violation of his constitutional rights, while being booked at the Circleville City Jail on April 3, 2004. The issue before this Court is whether the district court properly denied the Defendant-Officers' motion for summary judgment as to Harris's excessive force, deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, equal protection and assault and battery claims. For the reasons that follow, we AFFIRM the district court's judgment.

I.

On April 3, 2004, Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Helen McManes stopped Harris, an African-American, for speeding

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in Pickaway County, Ohio. Harris's fiancee at the time, now his wife, was following his car.

When speaking with Harris, Trooper McManes smelled the odor of alcohol. She administered some field sobriety tests and ultimately administered a breathalyzer test. Trooper McManes told Harris that although he was close to the legal limit she was not going to charge him with a DUI, but that she was going to issue him a speeding ticket. Harris then went and sat in his wife's car and waited for his speeding ticket.

While he was waiting for his ticket, however, Trooper R.A. Cooper arrived at the scene. Trooper Cooper approached Harris and told him he was being charged with a DUI. He also told Harris that there was a " misdemeanor warrant out of Reynoldsburg Mayor's Court" outstanding for him. Thus, Harris was informed that the Troopers were arresting him for DUI, speeding and the outstanding warrant.

Harris acknowledges that he was upset about being arrested and that he cursed at the Troopers. Trooper McManes handcuffed Harris and placed him in her vehicle for transport to the Circleville City Jail.

Police officers Glenn R. Williams, Phillip Roar, and Robert Gaines (collectively " Defendants" or " the Officers" ) were on duty at the Circleville City Jail when Harris arrived with Troopers McManes and Cooper.

Surveillance cameras at the Circleville City Jail captured some of the events and the videotape is part of the record. The events that occurred inside Cell No. 3 were outside of the view of the cameras. The area just outside of Cell No. 3, however, was within view of a camera.

Once inside the jail, Officer Williams directed that Harris be taken directly to Cell No. 3, also known as the " drunk tank." In the cell, the Officers began the booking process by attempting to take Harris's jewelry and belt from him. Harris testified that one of the Officers yanked at a necklace Harris was wearing using a ball point pen, prompting Harris to say, " Man, you don't even have to do that" and step back. (JA at 89, 703-05). One of the Officers then kicked Harris's leg out from under him and pushed him in the back, causing him to fall and hit the left side of his head. The Officers said nothing to Harris before taking him to the ground. The next thing Harris knew was that he was being lifted back on to his feet and the Officers then walked him out of the cell backwards, back into the booking area.

The videotape shows the Officers walking Harris back into the booking area. In addition to the Officers, Troopers McManes and Cooper were also present and are shown on the videotape.

Harris testified that as they were walking, he was still handcuffed and one of the Officers was " jacking my hands over my head." (JA at 709). That is, an Officer was lifting up on Harris's hands behind his back. He states that there was an Officer on each side of him, and that Officer Williams instructed him to " kneel down." Harris claims that he could not comply with this instruction because he was handcuffed and one of the Officers was pulling his arms up behind him.

When Harris did not comply with the instruction to kneel, the Officers used a " takedown" maneuver to get Harris down on the floor. Officer Gaines, who was behind Harris at the time, struck Harris in the back of the knee, in an attempt to get his knee to buckle. Officer Roar administered two peroneal strikes to the left side of Harris's leg.

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Officer Williams testified that when Harris was told to kneel down, Harris was just standing there. In other words, other than not complying with the command to kneel down, Harris was not doing anything to resist. In addition, Harris does not appear to be resisting on the videotape.

Harris testified that the strikes by the Officers caused all three of them to go down to the ground:

Okay. When I go down, when they take me down to the ground, I felt a knee on my left side in my back, a knee on the right side in my back. My arms are being pushed up by both officers, up over my head backwards. At the same time I felt a hand on my forehead, and I'm down on the ground, and then I heard pop, pop, pop and that's when I started screaming.

(JA at 711). Harris screamed out in pain and cried " you broke my neck" to the Officers. He also told the Officers to stop shocking him 1 because it felt like electricity was running through his arms and legs and he could not move. Harris told the Officers, " I can't move. I can't move. I think y'all did something. I can't move." (JA at 716).

The Officers ignored his statements and, after removing Harris's jewelry and belt, told him to stand up. When Harris continued telling them that he could not move, the Officers removed his shirt and pants, leaving Harris in his t-shirt, underwear and socks, and literally dragged him back into Cell No. 3. When the Officers left him in the jail cell at 10:18 p.m., Harris was still yelling " Help. Help. I can't move. I can't move."

Harris continued to cry out in pain after the Officers left him in Cell No. 3. He testified as follows:

Q. So the officers leave and you continue to moan and groan in the cell; is that fair?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And then at some point in time someone comes and checks on you?

A. Well, even-I wouldn't say check on me. You know, I'm laying there in pain, I can't move, I'm hollering and screaming, " I need help. Somebody help me. Help." I could hear people out in the hallway walking by and I'm still there screaming " Help. I can't move."

Now, the feeling, man, I thought I was going to die right there because I had trouble breathing. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't move. The electric shocks is still going up and down my body, through my hands, through my legs. And then the door opens and it was this-another officer came in and told me to get up. I'm still telling him " I can't move. I can't move." So he said, " Yes, you can," and he kicked me in my left side of my ribs. I was telling him-I'm screaming, that part you can hear on the tape, " No. Stop."

....

And at this time after he kicks me he said, " Looks like we got us a broke nigger here." And he looked at me and then he just walked out....

(JA at 97-98, 718-19). In addition, at some point while Harris was in Cell No. 3,2 Trooper McManes approached the cell and, via the opening in the cell door, read

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the " BMV 2255" to Harris.3 Harris was lying on the cell floor when this occurred. Harris testified that, while Trooper McManes was at his cell, he continued " hollering ‘ Help me. Help me.’ " (JA at 99).

Patricia Rice (" Rice" ) is a civilian employee who was working at the jail that night. Rice testified that after the Officers took Harris to the ground they " drug him like an animal into the jail cell" and left him lying there, with Harris " screaming the whole time, ‘ You broke my back, you broke my back,’ and they totally ignored him." (JA at 560, 565). She testified that Harris's screams continued after he was left in the cell, that the screaming was fairly constant, and that it clearly indicated he was in pain. Rice testified that Harris's screams, including his screams that his back was broken and that he could not move, could clearly be heard in the communications center-yet she did not see anyone check on Harris. Rice ultimately entered the control center and asked the Officers to check on Harris:

I went in and I told them, I told the people that was in the communication office, and I believe I directed it to Corporal Kinser-I don't remember. There was several people in there, the officers that were involved or whatever-that he had not moved since they had put him in the cell and that-I don't know if I told them they needed to call someone or if I just went in and said " You need to check on him. He hasn't moved since you put him in the cell." And it was at that point they called the squad.

(JA at 569). Rice testified that the population of Circleville is " primarily white," estimating that only two to five percent of detainees at the jail are African-American. (JA at 50-51).

When Corporal Stephanie Kinser checked on Harris, she heard him request...

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