Guerrero v. Deane, No. 1:09cv1313 (JCC).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
Writing for the CourtJAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.
Citation750 F.Supp.2d 631
PartiesEsperanza GUERRERO, et al., Plaintiffs,v.Charlie T. DEANE, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date27 October 2010
Docket NumberNo. 1:09cv1313 (JCC).

750 F.Supp.2d 631

Esperanza GUERRERO, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Charlie T. DEANE, et al., Defendants.

No. 1:09cv1313 (JCC).

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia,Alexandria Division.

Oct. 27, 2010.


[750 F.Supp.2d 638]

Robert H. Cox, Ann Marie Phillips, Howrey LLP, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs.M. Alice Rowan, Angela Lemmon Horan, Jeffrey R.B. Notz, Prince William, VA, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION
JAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. 107] and Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Dkt. 112]. For the following reasons, the Court will grant in part and deny in part Defendants' Motion and will deny Plaintiffs' Motion.

[750 F.Supp.2d 639]

I. Background

A. Factual Background

This case arises from a November 24, 2007 incident involving a number of Prince William County (the “County”) police officers and the Guerrero family of Manassas, Virginia. As a result of the incident, Plaintiffs have alleged Fourth Amendment violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as certain Virginia state-law claims.

i. Officer Moore Arrives and Steps Into the Guerrero Home

On November 24, 2007, Defendant Officer David Moore, an officer in the Prince William County Police Department (the “Department”), went to Plaintiffs' home in order to serve a summons on Antonia Munguia. (D. SMJ at 2; P. Opp. at 1). The summons required Ms. Munguia to appear before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for a Class 3 Misdemeanor charge of failing to assist the school in enforcing the standards of compulsory school attendance as a parent of a student enrolled in a public school pursuant to Va. Ann.Code § 22.1–279.3. (D. SMJ at 2; D. Ex.1 A1, A2.) The summons listed the Guerrero home in Manassas as Ms. Munguia's address, and while the parties dispute whether Ms. Munguia lived at the Guerrero residence on November 24, 2007, and whether Ms. Guerrero told Officer Moore that Ms. Munguia lived at the Guerrero residence, it is undisputed that Ms. Guerrero told Officer Moore that Ms. Munguia was not there that day. (D. SMJ at 3; P. Opp. at 1).

After telling Officer Moore that Ms. Munguia was not present, Ms. Guerrero asked for his business card. (D. SMJ at 3; P. Opp. at 2.) The parties dispute what occurred immediately following this initial exchange. According to Plaintiffs, after asking for Officer Moore's card, Ms. Guerrero began closing the door, believing their conversation to have ended. (P. Opp. at 2.) According to Defendants, Ms. Guerrero took a step backward into her house while further opening the front door. (D. SMJ at 3.) Next, according to Plaintiffs, Officer Moore attempted to force his way into the Guerrero home. (P. Opp. at 2.) Defendants, in contrast, state that Ms. Guerrero charged forward and pushed Officer Moore out of the house. (D. SMJ at 3.)

Significantly, both parties agree that upon producing his business card, Officer Moore stepped onto the threshold of the Guerrero home. (D. SMJ at 3; P. Opp. at 2.) Ms. Guerrero then closed the door on Officer Moore's leg or foot, though the parties dispute the amount of force used. (D. SMJ at 3; P. Opp. at 2.) Also undisputed, after Ms. Guerrero closed the door on Officer Moore, he struggled against the door in attempting to enter the home to arrest her. (D. SMJ at 4; P. Opp. at 2.)

ii. Officer Moore Radios for Help and Officers Respond

While Officer Moore's foot was wedged in the Guerrero door with Ms. Guerrero pushing the door shut from the inside, Officer Moore called dispatch for help. (D. SMJ at 4.) Dispatch initially issued a “Signal One” alert, an emergency distress call, but Officer Moore then radioed asking for three cars to arrive only in normal mode. Id. The first officer to arrive in response was Officer Luis Potes, followed immediately by Officers Matthew Caplan and Adam Hurley. (D. SMJ at 5; P. Opp. at 3.) When the officers arrived, they saw Officer Moore's leg caught in the door and

[750 F.Supp.2d 640]

his struggling against the door being closed on him. (D. SMJ at 5.) Officer Moore then told the officers that Ms. Guerrero was under arrest and asked for their help to push the door open in order to enter and arrest Ms. Guerrero. (D. SMJ at 5.)

iii. The Officers Enter the Guerrero Home

The Officers then pushed open the door, freeing Officer Moore's leg, and entered the home. (D. SMJ at 6.) It is undisputed that the officers' entry forced Ms. Guerrero to the floor, though the parties dispute whether Ms. Guerrero then struggled with the officers and resisted the arrest. (D. SMJ at 6; P. Opp. at 4.) The officers stayed in the small foyer area immediately behind the door, except for Officer Potes, who went several feet further into the house and up a few steps into the raised living area. (D. SMJ at 6.) The parties dispute whether the remaining members of the Guerrero family were yelling and screaming at the officers in the sunken foyer. (D. SMJ at 4; P. Opp. at 6.) The parties do not dispute, however, that as the officers in the foyer were effecting Ms. Guerrero's arrest, Mr. Guerrero came towards the officers. (D. SMJ at 6; P. Opp. at 4.)

Mr. Guerrero came out of a neighboring room and either “ran rapidly” or “walked fast” towards the officers who were effecting an arrest of Ms. Guerrero. (D. SMJ at 7.) The parties dispute whether Officer Potes, at this time, gave the Guerrero family numerous commands to stay back. (P. Opp. at 4.) As Mr. Guerrero approached the officers, he made some gestures with his hands, alternatively described as either “like he was trying to grab something” or “with his hand out” as if to show he was not holding anything. (D. SMJ at 7; P. Opp. at 17.) Once Mr. Guerrero was “very close” to the officers, Officer Potes deployed oleoresin capsicum (“pepper”) spray on Mr. Guerrero and pushed him up the stairs. (D. SMJ at 7.)

iv. The Officers Arrest Mr. and Ms. Guerrero

The parties dispute whether Ms. Guerrero resisted arrest by grabbing the banister and refusing to let go. (D. SMJ at 5; P. Opp. at 5.) Officer Moore then arrested and handcuffed Ms. Guerrero and escorted her outside. (D. SMJ at 8.) After placing Ms. Guerrero under arrest, Officers Potes and Caplan returned inside and placed Mr. Guerrero under arrest. Id.

Officer Moore called for a female officer to conduct a search of Ms. Guerrero, and Officer Karen Muehlhauser arrived on the scene. (D. SMJ at 8.) Officer Muehlhauser then searched Ms. Guerrero and checked her handcuffs to ensure they were secure. Id. The parties dispute whether Officer Muehlhauser tightened Ms. Guerrero's handcuffs and whether Officer Moore ordered Officer Muehlhauser to do so. (D. SMJ at 8; P. Opp. at 5.) The parties also dispute whether Officer Moore ordered Ms. Guerrero to lean farther back while she was in the police car in order to tighten her handcuffs. (D. SMJ at 8–9.)

v. Detention and Injuries

Mr. and Ms. Guerrero were taken to the Adult Detention Center and detained for several hours and a day and a half, respectively. (D. SMJ at 9.) Both suffered minor injuries from the incident. Ms. Guerrero suffered a two-inch abrasion on her left shoulder, a one-inch red mark on her right forearm, and pain in her shoulder. (P. Opp. at 5.) Ms. Guerrero also suffered emotional trauma from the incident. (P. Opp. at 6.) Mr. Guerrero had his eyes checked at a clinic and suffered nervousness following the event. Id. The Guerrero children, Plaintiffs J. Guerrero, Jr., M. Guerrero, and K. Guerrero, suffered emotional

[750 F.Supp.2d 641]

and psychiatric injury, feelings of shock and helplessness and fear. (P. Opp. at 6–7.)

The Commonwealth of Virginia charged Mr. Guerrero with obstruction of justice, and he was found not guilty. (P. Opp. at 7.) Ms. Guerrero was charged with assault and battery of a law enforcement officer and obstruction of justice. Id. The obstruction of justice charge was dismissed, and the assault and battery charge has not been prosecuted to date. Id.

vi. The County Resolution

The parties dispute the facts surrounding a County resolution concerning illegal immigration enforcement. According to Plaintiffs, on July 10, 2007, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution (the “Resolution”) mandating county police officers to inquire into the citizenship or immigration status of any person detained in violation of state law or a municipal ordinance. (P. Opp. at 9.) In response to the County's desire to curtail what it perceived to be an “illegal immigrant” problem, the Department created a unit devoted to investigating crimes involving illegal aliens and, on the County's direction, enacted a policy whereby officers could inquire as to immigration status following an arrest. (P. Opp. at 10.) Defendants, however, contend that while the Resolution was passed in July 2007, its directives were not implemented by the Department until the spring of 2008. (P. SMJ at 10.)

B. Procedural Background

Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint on July 2, 2010 (the “Complaint”). On September 10, 2010, Defendants filed with this Court their Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment 2 [Dkt. 107], and Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Dkt. 112]. On September 22, 2010, Plaintiffs filed their Opposition to Defendants' Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. 130], and Defendants filed their Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. [Dkt. 124.] On October 1, 2010, Defendants filed their Reply to Plaintiffs' Opposition [Dkt. 137.], and Plaintiffs' filed their Reply in Support of their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. [Dkt. 136.] These motions are now before the Court.

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate only if the record shows that “there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247–48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, ...

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  • Pleasants v. Town of Louisa, Case No. 3:11–cv–00032.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • March 12, 2012
    ...he had sufficient probable cause to arrest Ms. Pleasants such that her false arrest claim should be dismissed. See Guerrero v. Deane, 750 F.Supp.2d 631, 652 (E.D.Va.2010) (noting, in a § 1983 case, that the lawfulness of an entry is a separate question from the lawfulness of a subsequent se......
  • United States v. Harvey, Criminal Action No. 1:12CR29.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • October 25, 2012
    ...on what the typical reasonable person would have understood by the exchange between the officer and the suspect.’ ” Guerrero v. Deane, 750 F.Supp.2d 631, 646–47 (E.D.Va.2010) (quoting United States v. Bynum, 125 F.Supp.2d 772, 783 (E.D.Va.2000), rev'd on other grounds,293 F.3d 192 (4th Cir.......
  • United States v. Avagyan, Criminal Action No. 3:15cr155-ALL
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • February 22, 2016
    ...would defer to another officer's explanation of what transpired before his or her arrival) (cited approvingly by Guerrero v. Deane , 750 F.Supp.2d 631, 652 (E.D.Va.2010) ). The cases teach that it was reasonable for the deputies to have relied on the dispatcher's statement that the informat......
  • Roncales v. Cnty. of Henrico, Civil Action No. 3:19cv234
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • March 31, 2020
    ...the necessary affirmative link between [the] identified policy or custom and [the] specific [alleged] violation." Guerrero v. Deane , 750 F. Supp. 2d 631, 656 (E.D. Va. 2010), aff'd sub nom. Guerrero v. Moore , 442 F. App'x 57 (4th Cir. 2011).15 The Fourth Circuit has identified four instan......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
22 cases
  • Pleasants v. Town of Louisa, Case No. 3:11–cv–00032.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Virginia)
    • March 12, 2012
    ...he had sufficient probable cause to arrest Ms. Pleasants such that her false arrest claim should be dismissed. See Guerrero v. Deane, 750 F.Supp.2d 631, 652 (E.D.Va.2010) (noting, in a § 1983 case, that the lawfulness of an entry is a separate question from the lawfulness of a subsequent se......
  • United States v. Harvey, Criminal Action No. 1:12CR29.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Northern District of West Virginia
    • October 25, 2012
    ...on what the typical reasonable person would have understood by the exchange between the officer and the suspect.’ ” Guerrero v. Deane, 750 F.Supp.2d 631, 646–47 (E.D.Va.2010) (quoting United States v. Bynum, 125 F.Supp.2d 772, 783 (E.D.Va.2000), rev'd on other grounds,293 F.3d 192 (4th Cir.......
  • United States v. Avagyan, Criminal Action No. 3:15cr155-ALL
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • February 22, 2016
    ...would defer to another officer's explanation of what transpired before his or her arrival) (cited approvingly by Guerrero v. Deane , 750 F.Supp.2d 631, 652 (E.D.Va.2010) ). The cases teach that it was reasonable for the deputies to have relied on the dispatcher's statement that the informat......
  • Roncales v. Cnty. of Henrico, Civil Action No. 3:19cv234
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • March 31, 2020
    ...the necessary affirmative link between [the] identified policy or custom and [the] specific [alleged] violation." Guerrero v. Deane , 750 F. Supp. 2d 631, 656 (E.D. Va. 2010), aff'd sub nom. Guerrero v. Moore , 442 F. App'x 57 (4th Cir. 2011).15 The Fourth Circuit has identified four instan......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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