887 F.3d 1034 (10th Cir. 2018), 17-3093, McCoy v. Meyers

Docket Nº:17-3093
Citation:887 F.3d 1034
Opinion Judge:MATHESON, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Deron MCCOY, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Tyson MEYERS; Darrin Pickering; Brice Burlie, Defendants-Appellees.
Attorney:Brian A. Jackson and Alexandra L. Sorenson, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP, Kansas City, Missouri, for Plaintiff-Appellant. William D. Cross, (Michael K. Seck and Kenneth J. Berra with him on the brief), Fisher, Patterson, Sayler & Smith, L.L.P., Overland Park, Kansas, for Defendants-Appellees.
Judge Panel:Before LUCERO, KELLY, and MATHESON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:April 10, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
SUMMARY

Hutchinson, Kansas police officers responded to a reported armed hostage situation and arrested DeRon McCoy, Jr. The officers brought him to the ground, struck him, and rendered him unconscious with a carotid restraint maneuver. While unconscious, the officers handcuffed McCoy’s arms behind his back, zip-tied his legs together, and moved him into a seated position. As McCoy regained consciousness,... (see full summary)

 
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887 F.3d 1034 (10th Cir. 2018)

Deron MCCOY, Jr., Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Tyson MEYERS; Darrin Pickering; Brice Burlie, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 17-3093

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

April 10, 2018

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (D.C. No. 5:12-CV-03160-CM)

Brian A. Jackson and Alexandra L. Sorenson, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP, Kansas City, Missouri, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

William D. Cross, (Michael K. Seck and Kenneth J. Berra with him on the brief), Fisher, Patterson, Sayler & Smith, L.L.P., Overland Park, Kansas, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before LUCERO, KELLY, and MATHESON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

MATHESON, Circuit Judge.

On March 22, 2011, Hutchinson, Kansas police officers responded to a reported armed hostage situation and arrested DeRon McCoy, Jr. The officers brought him to the ground, struck him, and rendered him unconscious with a carotid restraint maneuver. While he was unconscious, they handcuffed his arms behind his back, zip-tied his legs together, and moved him into a seated position. As he regained consciousness, the officers resumed striking him and placed him into a second carotid restraint, rendering him unconscious a second time.

Based on this incident, Mr. McCoy sued three of the officers who participated in his arrest— Tyson Meyers, Darrin Pickering, and Brice Burlie (collectively, the " Appellees" )— under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleged that they violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force. The Appellees moved for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds. The district court granted the motion, determining that (1) the Appellees had acted reasonably under the circumstances, and (2) the relevant law was not clearly established at the time of the Appellees’ alleged conduct. Mr. McCoy now appeals.

Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm in part and reverse in part because the Appellees are entitled to qualified immunity (1) for their conduct before Mr. McCoy’s arms and legs were bound while he was unconscious, but (2) not for their conduct after this point.

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I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual History

The following factual history is drawn from the parties’ statement of uncontroverted facts and from the record, viewed in the light most favorable to Mr. McCoy, the non-moving party. See Tolan v. Cotton, __ U.S. __, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866, 188 L.Ed.2d 895 (2014) (on summary judgment, " a court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the opposing party" and " draw[ ] inferences in favor of the nonmovant" (quotations omitted) ). We therefore resolve " genuine disputes of fact" in the record in favor of Mr. McCoy. See

id. But for " dispositive issues on which [Mr. McCoy] will bear the burden of proof at trial," the record must contain evidence that is " based on more than mere speculation, conjecture, or surmise." Cardoso v. Calbone, 490 F.3d 1194, 1197 (10th Cir. 2007) (quotations omitted).

1. Events Leading to Mr. McCoy’s Arrest

On March 20, 2011, Mr. McCoy checked into a room at the Budget Inn in Hutchinson, Kansas, with his infant daughter and his sister. Sometime on March 22, 2011— while the three were inside the motel room— Leanna Daniels, the mother of Mr. McCoy’s daughter, and Gwendolyn Roby, Ms. Daniels’s friend, arrived at the motel. Ms. Roby called the police when she realized Mr. McCoy was not going to allow Ms. Daniels to take her daughter. Ms. Roby told the police that Mr. McCoy was at a motel with his daughter and sister, that he would not give the daughter to Ms. Daniels, and that he had a gun.

The Hutchinson police arrived at the Budget Inn around 4:38 p.m. They attempted to contact Mr. McCoy, but he did not respond and remained inside the motel room. Around 6:40 p.m., the police requested assistance from the Emergency Response Team (the " ERT" ), a special law enforcement unit trained to respond to unusually dangerous circumstances, including hostage situations.

Officers Meyers, Pickering, and Burlie— all ERT members— reported to the Budget Inn with the rest of the ERT. Upon their arrival, they were told that they were responding to a hostage situation involving an armed male with a female and a baby. After determining that no sound was emanating from Mr. McCoy’s motel room, the ERT command decided to send in a five-member team to secure the room, extricate the hostages, and arrest Mr. McCoy. Officer Burlie, the ERT’s assistant team leader, selected himself and four other ERT members— including Officer Pickering— for the task. Officer Meyers was assigned to stay back and hold a ballistics blanket to provide cover for the five-member team as they approached the door.

2. Mr. McCoy’s Arrest

Around 9:05 p.m., the five-member team entered Mr. McCoy’s motel room with a master key. As the door opened, the Appellees and several other officers heard Mr. McCoy yell " [g]et back." App., Vol. II at 417-18; App., Vol. V at 1061. The team then entered in a " stack" formation, one after another, with Officer Pickering leading. When the team entered the room, Mr. McCoy was on the bed with his sister and his daughter.

Upon entering the room, each of the five officers saw Mr. McCoy holding a gun.1

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Mr. McCoy alternated between pointing the gun in his sister’s direction and pointing it at the first three officers to enter, including Officers Pickering and Burlie.[2] Officer Meyers, who was still staying back with the ballistics blanket, heard several officers shouting, " Drop the gun, drop the gun," immediately after they entered the room. App., Vol. II at 419; App., Vol. V at 1061.

Approximately 30 to 45 seconds after the officers first shouted out " drop the gun," Mr. McCoy dropped the gun. One of the officers removed the gun from the room, and someone announced that the gun was out. After the gun was removed, Officer Burlie jumped onto the bed, attempting to arrest Mr. McCoy. While Officer Burlie was on the bed, Mr. McCoy’s sister and daughter were cleared from the immediate area and removed from the room. After determining that Mr. McCoy’s sister and daughter were clear, Officer Burlie pulled Mr. McCoy off the bed to arrest him. Officer Burlie perceived that Mr. McCoy was reaching for his duty weapon and yelled out, " He’s grabbing my gun." App., Vol. II at 423-24; App., Vol. V at 1063.3

a.

The allegedly excessive force

Mr. McCoy does not allege that the Appellees used any excessive force up to this point. He alleges their use of force became excessive only after Mr. Burlie pulled him onto the ground.

Later in this opinion, we separate our legal analysis between what happened before and after Mr. McCoy was rendered unconscious, handcuffed, and zip-tied. We therefore present the relevant facts— including both the Appellees’ and Mr. McCoy’s conduct— for each period separately. We refer to the two periods as " pre-restraint" and " post-restraint."

i. Pre-restraint period

Once Mr. McCoy was on the ground, lying face-down with his hands behind his back, Officer Pickering " immediately" placed him in a carotid restraint. App., Vol. II at 470-71, 477-78.4 Unidentified officers

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" simultaneously" pinned Mr. McCoy down and hit him in the head, shoulders, back, and arms. Id. at 480; see also id. at 470-71. Officer Pickering maintained the carotid restraint for approximately five to ten seconds and increased pressure, even though Mr. McCoy was not resisting, thereby causing Mr. McCoy to lose consciousness.5

While Mr. McCoy was unconscious, the officers handcuffed his hands behind his back and zip-tied his feet together. See App., Vol. II at 471-72 (Mr. McCoy testifying that the next thing he remembered was " coming to" and that " when [he] came to [he] was in a sitting position with [his]

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legs zip tied and [his] hands handcuffed behind [his] back" ); see also App., Vol. III at 595 (Officer Pickering affirming at his deposition that " at this point in time, Mr. McCoy [was] unconscious ... [a]nd handcuffed ... [w]ith zip ties around his ankles" ); App., Vol. V at 1314 (Officer Burlie affirming at his deposition that when Mr. McCoy " eventually [came] to," he was handcuffed and his legs were restrained).6

ii. Post-restraint period

Officer Meyers entered the motel room while Mr. McCoy was unconscious to perform a revival technique known as a " kidney slap," which consists of " a slight tap to the lower back." App., Vol. III at 632.7 Officer Meyers positioned himself behind Mr. McCoy, moved Mr. McCoy into a sitting position, and performed the kidney slap. App., Vol. II at 428; App., Vol. V at...

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