Donahue v. Wihongi, 011720 FED10, 19-4005

Docket Nº:19-4005
Opinion Judge:MATHESON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Party Name:KEVIN LEO DONAHUE, Plaintiff - Appellant, v. OFFICER SHAUN WIHONGI; SALT LAKE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; SALT LAKE CITY CORPORATION, Defendants - Appellees.
Attorney:Karra J. Porter (J.D. Lauritzen with her on the briefs), of Christensen & Jensen, P.C., Salt Lake City, Utah, for Plaintiff - Appellant. John E. Delaney (Mark E. Kittrell with him on the brief), of Salt Lake City Corporation, Salt Lake City, Utah, for Defendants - Appellees.
Judge Panel:Before LUCERO, HARTZ, and MATHESON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:January 17, 2020
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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KEVIN LEO DONAHUE, Plaintiff - Appellant,

v.

OFFICER SHAUN WIHONGI; SALT LAKE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; SALT LAKE CITY CORPORATION, Defendants - Appellees.

No. 19-4005

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

January 17, 2020

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Utah (D.C. No. 2:17-CV-00312-DAK)

Karra J. Porter (J.D. Lauritzen with her on the briefs), of Christensen & Jensen, P.C., Salt Lake City, Utah, for Plaintiff - Appellant.

John E. Delaney (Mark E. Kittrell with him on the brief), of Salt Lake City Corporation, Salt Lake City, Utah, for Defendants - Appellees.

Before LUCERO, HARTZ, and MATHESON, Circuit Judges.

MATHESON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

Kevin Donahue was walking home one night when he saw a woman outside his neighbor's house. Dr. Donahue thought she was trespassing, and a heated conversation ensued.[1] They approached two police officers, Officer Shaun Wihongi and Officer Shawn Bennett, who were investigating an incident a few houses away. The officers questioned them separately. The woman told Officer Wihongi her name was "Amy LaRose," which later turned out to be untraceable. She claimed Dr. Donahue was drunk and had insulted her. Dr. Donahue refused to provide his name but admitted he had been drinking and said the woman had hit him. The officers eventually arrested and handcuffed Dr. Donahue.

Dr. Donahue sued Officer Wihongi, the Salt Lake City Police Department ("SLCPD"), and Salt Lake City Corporation ("SLC") (collectively, "Defendants"). He alleged Officer Wihongi violated his Fourth Amendment rights by (1) arresting him without probable cause, (2) using excessive force during the arrest, and (3) detaining him for too long. Officer Wihongi moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion on all three claims and dismissed the case. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.

I BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

We present the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, drawing all reasonable inferences in his favor.

See Estate of Booker v. Gomez, 745 F.3d 405, 411 (10th Cir. 2014)2

At 10:45 p.m. on April 21, 2015, Dr. Donahue saw Ms. LaRose hiding near his neighbor's house. He questioned her and told her to leave. When Ms. LaRose refused, Dr. Donahue called her "a piece of shit." App. at 136. She responded by punching his left jaw. Dr. Donahue told Ms. LaRose he would call the police. She said she was hiding from police officers investigating an incident a few houses away.

1. Interviews of Dr. Donahue and Ms. LaRose

Dr. Donahue and Ms. LaRose approached SLCPD Officers Bennett and Wihongi at the nearby house. Dr. Donahue explained, "This woman just assaulted me[;] I'd like to press charges on her." Id. at 137. Officer Bennett then began interviewing Dr. Donahue. Bennett 1 at 25:50-30:30; Bennett 2 at 0:00-2:10. Dr. Donahue explained Ms. LaRose had hit him, but he asked to wait before deciding to file a report. Id.

While Officer Bennett spoke with Dr. Donahue, Officer Wihongi separately interviewed Ms. LaRose. Wihongi 1 at 26:05-29:45. She gave Officer Wihongi her name and birthdate which he later discovered were untraceable in the police database.3 She also recounted her version of events: Dr. Donahue, a stranger "drunker than Cooter Brown," had approached her and called her a "piece of shit." Id. at 26:40-57.

2. Pre-Arrest Conversation

After speaking with Ms. LaRose, Officer Wihongi joined Dr. Donahue and Officer Bennett. Wihongi 2 at 29:34-45. He heard Officer Bennett ask for Dr. Donahue's name. Id. at 2:11-30. When Dr. Donahue refused, Officer Wihongi explained why a name is necessary for police assistance and recounted Ms. LaRose's allegations. Id. at 2:33-3:32. Dr. Donahue appeared to confirm that he had insulted Ms. LaRose during their altercation, id. at 3:14-15, 4 but denied starting the altercation, id. at 6:22-35.

Officer Bennett left to hear Ms. LaRose's version of events. Officer Wihongi then told Dr. Donahue why he needed to investigate: "Two people are telling us a story that's completely different in dynamics and we have to . . . [decide] what's gonna happen here." Id. at 6:48-56. When Officer Wihongi asked, "Have you been drinking this evening, sir?" Dr. Donahue responded, "Yes." Id. at 7:00-03.[5] Officer Wihongi suggested Dr. Donahue was intoxicated and disruptive in violation of Utah's public intoxication statute, but Dr. Donahue denied both assertions. Id. at 7:12-29.

Officer Bennett, having permitted Ms. LaRose to leave, rejoined them. He asked Dr. Donahue if he had been drinking, and Dr. Donahue again replied, "Yes." Id. at 7:45-48. Officer Wihongi again requested Dr. Donahue's name, but he again refused. Id. at 8:26-33.

3. Handcuffing

Officer Wihongi then pulled Dr. Donahue up by his arm, saying, "Stand up, You're gonna be detained . . . I'm not asking you, I'm telling you." Id. at 8:33-41. The officers pulled Dr. Donahue's hands behind his back and handcuffed him. Id. at 8:38-9:20. Dr. Donahue protested, "Please don't hurt me," claimed the officers were "twisting [his] wrist," and asked, "Why am I being detained?" Id. at 8:55-9:20. Officer Wihongi explained they were detaining him for public intoxication and failure to provide his name. Id. at 9:18-42. Officer Wihongi again requested Dr. Donahue's name, and he again refused. Id. at 12:05-07.

When the officers briefly stepped away from Dr. Donahue, Officer Wihongi whispered his suspicion that Ms. LaRose was a runaway from the nearby incident. Id. at 17:00-15. He directed Officer Bennett to run "Amy LaRose" in the SLCPD database. Id. at 17:48-56. Officer Bennett did so, but found nothing. Id. at 23:31-57. Officer Wihongi then told Dr. Donahue he was "suspicious," id. at 24:21-27, of Ms. LaRose and would "make it known to . . . the sergeant . . . that we probably [should] take your handcuffs off," id. at 24:33-38.6

Throughout the encounter, Dr. Donahue had asked for a sergeant. See, e.g., id. at 4:56-59, 8:18-21, 8:29-31, 12:22-25. Sergeant Wallace arrived 19 minutes after Dr. Donahue was handcuffed. Id. at 27:39-43. The parties agree that Dr. Donahue was released three minutes later.

The following time line summarizes the significant events described above.7

Time Line Event Bodycam Video Time Stamp
0:00 Interviews of Ms. LaRose and Dr. Donahue begin. Bennett 1 at 25:50-30:30; Bennett 2 at 0:00-2:10
11:40 Dr. Donahue first admits he has been drinking. Wihongi 2 at 7:00-03
12:25 Dr. Donahue again admits he has been drinking. Wihongi 2 at 7:45-48
13:06 Dr. Donahue refuses to provide his name. Wihongi 2 at 8:26-33
13:13 Dr. Donahue is told he is being detained. Wihongi 2 at 8:33-41
13:18 The officers handcuff Dr. Donahue. Wihongi 2 at 8:38-9:20
28:11 The officers discover Ms. LaRose's name is not in the SLCPD database. Wihongi 2 at 23:31-57
(approximately) 35:19 Dr. Donahue is released. Off-came
...

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