Graham v. City of Charlotte

Decision Date19 September 1986
Docket NumberNo. C-C-85-439-P.,C-C-85-439-P.
Citation644 F. Supp. 246
PartiesDethorne GRAHAM, Plaintiff, v. CITY OF CHARLOTTE, M.S. Connor, R.B. Townes, T. Rice, Hilda P. Matos, and M.M. Chandler, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of North Carolina

Edward G. Connette, Harper, Connette & Stovall, Charlotte, N.C., for plaintiff.

Frank B. Aycock, III, Charlotte, N.C., for defendants.


ROBERT D. POTTER, Chief Judge.

This is an action by Plaintiff brought under Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Charlotte and the individual police officers for damages for denial of Plaintiff's civil rights as a result of the alleged use of excessive force by the police officers in restraining the Plaintiff on November 12, 1984. The Plaintiff further alleges that the Defendants unlawfully assaulted Plaintiff, unlawfully restrained him, constituting false imprisonment and intentionally inflicted mental and emotional distress on Plaintiff in violation of the common law of North Carolina. The Plaintiff also alleges that the actions of the City of Charlotte in not properly training its officers to identify and respond to medical emergencies violate Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title 29 U.S.C. § 794, and North Carolina General Statute § 168-2.

At the close of the Plaintiff's evidence all of the Defendants moved for a directed verdict pursuant to Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The Court, of course, in ruling on the Motion must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. Galloway v. U.S., 319 U.S. 372, 63 S.Ct. 1077, 87 L.Ed. 1458 (1943); McClure v. Price, 300 F.2d 538 (4th Cir.1962); Phoenix Savings & Loan, Inc. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 427 F.2d 862 (4th Cir.1970).

The evidence, when reviewed in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, is that on November 12, 1984, the Plaintiff, who was a diabetic, had an insulin reaction at approximately 1:55 p.m., while doing mechanical work on an automobile at his shop. He asked his friend William Berry to drive him to a convenience store, the Pilot store, in order for him to obtain some orange juice to counteract his insulin reaction.

When they arrived at the store, where the Defendant officer Connor was parked in his patrol car, the Plaintiff rapidly exited or ran into the store and on seeing a line of four or five persons at the counter, did not want to wait and ran or walked rapidly out of the store and returned to Berry's automobile, and told Berry, to take him to his girlfriend's house or pointed in the direction of his girlfriend's house, where the Plaintiff testified he could obtain the orange juice he needed. As Berry drove out of the convenience store parking lot, he was followed by Officer Connor who stopped him approximately one half mile away. Officer Connor observed the Plaintiff in the passenger seat and told Berry he would have to wait until Officer Connor determined what, if anything, Plaintiff had done in the convenience store.

Plaintiff, suffering from his insulin reaction, then exited Berry's automobile and ran around it twice. Berry then asked Officer Connor to help him catch Plaintiff, and suggested that Officer Connor go one way around the car and that he, Berry, would go the other way. On seeing Berry and Connor coming from opposite directions, Plaintiff sat down on the curb and Officer Connor and Berry knelt down to see what was wrong with Plaintiff. The Plaintiff apparently passed out and the next thing he remembered was that he was handcuffed and lying face down on the sidewalk and that in addition to Connor there were four other police officers. These police officers had arrived in response to a call for a back up by Officer Connor.

Meanwhile, a crowd had gathered around and Officer Townes testified that it appeared things were getting out of hand.

The Plaintiff testified that the officers picked him up and with his hands cuffed behind his back placed him against and over the hood of Berry's car. The Plaintiff then tried to reach for his wallet in his hip pocket and lifted his head up to tell the officers that he was a diabetic and wanted his wallet to show his diabetic identification. One of the officers, Matos, shoved his head down and told him to shut up that no one had asked him anything. At some point during the incident, Plaintiff was asked if he wanted medical assistance and he declined.

The officers then attempted to place the Plaintiff in Officer Connor's patrol car and the Plaintiff vigorously resisted this effort, by kicking and otherwise attempting to keep from being placed in the car. The evidence was that two officers were pushing from behind and one entered the vehicle from the other side and pulled on the Plaintiff until he was in the car.

Officer Connor then determined that the Plaintiff had not done anything unlawful while in the convenience store, but was advised by his dispatcher that the Plaintiff was the owner of one or more guns.

The Plaintiff was then immediately driven home and his hands were uncuffed. He again was asked if he wanted medical assistance and he declined.

Plaintiff's witness, Berry, testified that he did not...

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7 cases
  • Graham v. Connor
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • May 15, 1989 a good faith effort to maintain and restore discipline or maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm." 644 F.Supp. 246, 248 (WDNC 1986). Finding that the amount of force used by the officers was "appropriate under the circumstances," that "[t]here was no discernabl......
  • Liebenstein v. Crowe
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • September 4, 1992
    ...causing harm" in order to prevail on his § 1983 action. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. at 390, 109 S.Ct. at 1869, citing Graham v. Connor, 644 F.Supp. 246, 248 (W.D.N.C. 1986). The Supreme Court rejected this subjective standard, which had been widely used since 1973. See Johnson v. Glick, 481 ......
  • Henry v. Purnell
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • April 21, 2006
    ...not acted in good faith or had applied force "maliciously or sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm." Graham v. City of Charlotte, 644 F.Supp. 246, 248 (W.D.N.C.1986). The Supreme Court found this standard to be improper in cases arising under the Fourth Amendment. Contrasting th......
  • Calamia v. City of New York
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • June 22, 1989
    ...--- U.S. ----, 109 S.Ct. 1865, 104 L.Ed.2d 443 (1989), rev'g Graham v. City of Charlotte, 827 F.2d 945 (4th Cir.1987) (aff'g 644 F.Supp. 246 (W.D.N.C.1986)), neither the instructions requested by Sutton nor those given by the trial court were entirely Graham v. Connor involved a police offi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • Qualified Immunity and the Colorblindness Fallacy: Why 'Black Lives [Don't] Matter' to the Country's High Court
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Law & Modern Critical Race Perspectives No. 13-2, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021 blood sugar[.]” Graham II , 827 F.2d at 946. 9. Graham I , 490 U.S. at 389. 10. Id. ; Graham v. City of Charlotte (“Graham III”), 644 F. Supp. 246, 247 (W.D.N.C. 1986). 11. Graham I , 490 U.S. at 389. 12. Id. 2021] QUALIFIED IMMUNITY AND THE COLORBLINDNESS FALLACY 137 While Mr. Graham wa......
    • United States
    • University of Pennsylvania Law Review Vol. 170 No. 2, January 2022
    • January 1, 2022
    ...(338) See 490 U.S. 386 (1989); Graham v. City of Charlotte, 827 F.2d 945, 949 (4th Cir. 1987); Graham v. City of Charlotte, 644 F. Supp. 246, 249 (W.D.N.C. Sept. 19, 1986). The Suprme Court noted that "[s]ince no claim of qualified immunity has been raised in this case,...we express no view......
  • The Rule of Black Capture & The Ahmaud Arbery Case
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Law & Modern Critical Race Perspectives No. 14-1, January 2022
    • January 1, 2022
    ...stop necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat.” 264 251. Graham v. Charlotte, 644 F Supp. 246, 248 (W.D.N.C. 1986). 252. Graham , 490 U.S. at 391. 253. Id. at 395-98. 254. U.S. CONST. amend. IV. 255. Graham , 490 U.S. at 396. 256. Id. at 397. 2......
  • Qualified Immunity and Statutory Interpretation
    • United States
    • Seattle University School of Law Seattle University Law Review No. 37-03, March 2014
    • Invalid date
    ...Id. at 389. 20. Id. 21. Id. at 389-90. 22. See id. at 390-91. 23. Id. at 391. 24. Id. at 390-91 (quoting Graham v. City of Charlotte, 644 F. Supp. 246, 248-49 (W.D.N.C. 1986)) (alteration in original). 25. Id. at 394-95. 26. Id. at 396. 27. See id. at 397. 28. See infra Part II. 29. 533 U.S......

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