800 F.3d 154 (5th Cir. 2015), 13-20388, Carroll v. Ellington

Docket Nº:13-20388
Citation:800 F.3d 154
Opinion Judge:EDWARD C. PRADO, Circuit Judge:
Party Name:RUTHA CARROLL, Individually and as Heir of Herman Rochan Carroll (also known as Herman Rochan Barnes); HERMAN CARROLL, SR., Individually and as Heir of Herman Rochan Carroll (also known as Herman Rochan Barnes); CHASTITY RODGERS, As Next Friend of J. K. and M. B., Minor Children of Herman Rochan Barnes, Deceased, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. GEORGE...
Attorney:For RUTHA CARROLL, Individually and as Heir of Herman Rochan Carroll (also known as Herman Rochan Barnes), HERMAN CARROLL, SR., Individually and as Heir of Herman Rochan Carroll (also known as Herman Rochan Barnes), CHASTITY RODGERS, As Next Friend of J. K. and M. B., Minor Children of Herman Roc...
Judge Panel:Before SMITH, PRADO, and OWEN, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 26, 2015
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
SUMMARY

Herman Barnes, a paranoid schizophrenic, died after a confrontation in his home with Harris County sheriffs deputies. Plaintiffs, his surviving family members, filed suit alleging that the deputies’ seizure of Barnes was unlawful, that the deputies’ warrantless entry into his home was unreasonable, and that the deputies’ use of force was excessive and deprived Barnes of his civil rights under the ... (see full summary)

 
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800 F.3d 154 (5th Cir. 2015)

RUTHA CARROLL, Individually and as Heir of Herman Rochan Carroll (also known as Herman Rochan Barnes); HERMAN CARROLL, SR., Individually and as Heir of Herman Rochan Carroll (also known as Herman Rochan Barnes); CHASTITY RODGERS, As Next Friend of J. K. and M. B., Minor Children of Herman Rochan Barnes, Deceased, Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

GEORGE W. ELLINGTON; ANDY VIRUETTE, JR., Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity; JUAN CELESTIAL, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity; NICHOLAS CARTER, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity; REX EVANS, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity; KEVIN SIMS, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity; ANDY HULSEY, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity, Defendants-Appellants

No. 13-20388

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 26, 2015

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          Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

         For RUTHA CARROLL, Individually and as Heir of Herman Rochan Carroll (also known as Herman Rochan Barnes), HERMAN CARROLL, SR., Individually and as Heir of Herman Rochan Carroll (also known as Herman Rochan Barnes), CHASTITY RODGERS, As Next Friend of J. K. and M. B., Minor Children of Herman Rochan Barnes, Deceased, Plaintiffs - Appellees: Erma Joyce Carey-Bay, Esq., Manvel, TX.

         For GEORGE W. ELLINGTON, Defendant - Appellant: Richard Henry Cobb, Sr., Esq., Houston, TX.

         For ANDY VIRUETTE, JR., Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity, Defendant - Appellant: Lisa Rice Hulsey, Assistant County Attorney, Mary E. Baker, Bruce Stephen Powers, Assistant County Attorney, County Attorney's Office, for the County of Harris, Houston, TX.

         For JUAN CELESTIAL, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity, NICHOLAS CARTER, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity, REX EVANS, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity, KEVIN SIMS, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity, ANDY HULSEY, Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, in his individual and official capacity, Defendants - Appellants: Bruce Stephen Powers, Assistant County Attorney, Mary E. Baker, County Attorney's Office, for the County of Harris, Houston, TX.

         Before SMITH, PRADO, and OWEN, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

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          EDWARD C. PRADO, Circuit Judge:

         Herman Barnes was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. He died in 2006 after a confrontation in his home with Harris County sheriff's deputies. His surviving family members (the Carrolls) sued the deputies involved in the confrontation, asserting that the deputies' seizure of Barnes was unlawful, that the deputies' warrantless entry into his home was unreasonable, and that the deputies' use of force was excessive and deprived Barnes of his civil rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The case proceeded to trial. After the jury deadlocked, the district court denied the deputies' motion for a directed verdict and declared a mistrial. The deputies seek interlocutory appeal from the district court's denial of their motion for a directed verdict. The deputies argue they are entitled to qualified immunity from § 1983 liability because their actions did not violate clearly established law. We first conclude that we have interlocutory appellate jurisdiction. We then agree with the deputies that they are entitled to qualified immunity on the unlawful-search-and-seizure claims and on most of the excessive-force claims, but not as to the excessive-force claims for the deputies' use of force after Barnes was subdued and ceased resisting. Accordingly, we reverse in part, dismiss in part, and remand.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Herman Rochan Barnes (also known as Herman Rochan Carroll) was an African American male who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia is a severe psychotic disorder, and people with paranoid schizophrenia " often have more difficulty interfacing in society with others." The disorder may be treated with " a combination of therapy and medication," and Barnes had antipsychotic medication in his system after the incident.

         On the afternoon of October 6, 2006, Barnes stood outside of his home beside the subdivision's community mailboxes smoking a cigarette. Barnes's neighbor testified that when Barnes was off of his medication, he would often walk up and down his street talking to himself out loud " kind of just pacing." Because of the complicated trial testimony, a lengthy recitation of the facts is warranted before discussing

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the deputies' qualified-immunity defenses.

         A. The Initial Detention

         The Carrolls challenge the initial detention as unsupported by reasonable suspicion in violation of the Fourth Amendment, so we begin by reviewing the facts pertaining to this claim. Harris County Deputy Sheriff Andy Viruette, Jr., was on patrol that afternoon driving his marked Harris County patrol car in the Sterling Green subdivision of Channelview, Texas, when he spotted Barnes. Viruette testified that he had been made aware of complaints from the community's home-owner's association about " criminal mischief or vandalism in the neighborhood to the[] mailboxes" where Barnes was standing while smoking his cigarette. Viruette observed Barnes standing by the complained-about mailboxes and noticed that Barnes was " possibly fidgeting with the mail box." Viruette decided to drive past Barnes " to continue to observe what the male's intentions were by the mailbox. Deputy Viruette testified that he observed Barnes " stop[] doing" what he had been doing after Viruette's car passed by and, instead, Barnes moved toward the side of the mailboxes.

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          At this point, Viruette turned his car around and drove toward Barnes. As his car approached Barnes, Viruette and Barnes made eye contact, and then Barnes " immediately takes off walking . . . away from the mailbox . . . in a hurried manner." Suspicious that Barnes was either vandalizing the mailboxes or selling narcotics or drugs, Viruette decided to stop and speak with Barnes " to ascertain if he lived . . . in the neighborhood and . . . if he had any business[] with those mailboxes as well."

         Deputy Viruette followed Barnes to a nearby residence and stopped his patrol car in front. Viruette noticed that there was a different set of mailboxes in front of that house. Viruette wondered, " [W]hat [was Barnes's] business . . . over by the mailboxes that were on [the other street], if there is a mailbox in front of the house there where I had stopped."

         Deputy Viruette rolled down his window and asked Barnes " what the address" of the residence was and what Barnes " was doing beside the mailbox as well." Barnes was unable to answer Deputy Viruette's questions; instead, Barnes said he was from California. Later, Barnes mentioned to Viruette that " this is my house," at which point Viruette " asked him what his address was." Barnes was unable to answer. As Deputy Viruette explained: " [H]is answers to me were totally left of what I was asking him . . . . That's what . . . raised my level of awareness." According to Deputy Viruette, this interaction in front of Barnes's home lasted about 45 seconds. Although Viruette testified that nothing " stood out" to him regarding mental illness, Viruette noticed " indicators that resembled possibly closely . . . that [Barnes] was possibly on some kind of either medication or narcotics, on illegal drugs, by his responses and also his body demeanor and his language."

         Based on this information, Deputy Viruette believed he had the reasonable suspicion necessary to conduct a legal detention. Still inside his patrol car, Viruette questioned Barnes about his name and address. At this point, Barnes turned and walked at a " steady walk pace" toward the house." Barnes then manually opened the garage door of his house, which surprised Deputy Viruette.1

         At this point, Viruette testified that he did not think that Barnes lived at that residence. Accordingly, when Barnes got to the garage door, Deputy Viruette ordered Barnes to stop and walk back toward Viruette's patrol car, but Barnes did not comply.

         Barnes's neighbor was watching from across the street. He described the conversation between Deputy Viruette and Barnes as " normal." He testified that, when Deputy Viruette approached the door of the garage, Barnes repeatedly told the officer to " step away from his house" or to " please leave [his] home" perhaps as many as " three times."

         B. The Warrantless Entry into the Residence

         The Carrolls also challenge the warrantless entry into Barnes's home. Because Barnes did not comply with Viruette's command to stop and walk over to his car, Deputy Viruette testified that he then believed that Barnes " had committed the offense of evading detention." Viruette immediately exited his patrol car to pursue Barnes into the garage. Viruette entered the garage, and when Barnes attempted to open " the door that leads into the residence through the garage," Viruette physically grabbed Barnes's arm to prevent him from entering the residence. Viruette testified that he had been continually giving very loud verbal commands ordering...

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