Moody v. City of Newport News, Civil No. 4:14cv99

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
Writing for the CourtMark S. Davis, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Citation193 F.Supp.3d 530
Parties Corey MOODY, Plaintiff, v. The CITY OF NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA, James D. Fox, in his official capacity, Richard W. Myers, in his official capacity, Danielle Hollandsworth, individually, Russel Tinsley, individually, Randy Gibson, individually, and Ryan Norris, individually, Defendants.
Decision Date16 June 2016
Docket NumberCivil No. 4:14cv99

193 F.Supp.3d 530

Corey MOODY, Plaintiff,
v.
The CITY OF NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA, James D. Fox, in his official capacity, Richard W. Myers, in his official capacity, Danielle Hollandsworth, individually, Russel Tinsley, individually, Randy Gibson, individually, and Ryan Norris, individually, Defendants.

Civil No. 4:14cv99

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division .

Signed June 16, 2016


193 F.Supp.3d 534

Michael Bruce Ware, Adrienne Michelle Sakyi, Schempf & Ware, PLLC, Yorktown, VA, Timothy Gerard Clancy, Clancy & Walter PLLC, Hampton, VA, for Plaintiff.

Jeff Wayne Rosen, Jeffrey A. Hunn, Pender & Coward PC, Virginia Beach, VA, James Arthur Cales, III, Furniss Davis Rashkind & Saunders PC, Norfolk, VA, for Defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

Mark S. Davis, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

On December 12, 2012, Plaintiff Corey Moody ("Plaintiff") suffered gunshot wounds and sustained permanent injuries during a traffic stop and arrest for federal drug and gun charges. Compl., ECF No. 1. Due to the events that transpired during the traffic stop, Plaintiff filed suit, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the City of Newport News, Virginia, the former and current Newport News Chiefs of Police, James D. Fox and Richard W. Myers, respectively, and the four Newport News Police Officers involved in the shooting, Danielle Hollandsworth ("Hollandsworth"), Russel Tinsley ("Tinsley"), Randy Gibson ("Gibson"), and Ryan Norris ("Norris"). Hollandsworth and Gibson are the only Defendants remaining in this case, as the other Defendants were previously dismissed. ECF Nos. 33, 50, 67, 68. Plaintiff alleged claims of excessive force, in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, against Hollandsworth and Gibson. Compl. at 12. This matter comes before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment by Hollandsworth, ECF No. 59, and a Motion for Summary Judgment by Gibson (collectively "Defendants"), ECF No. 62. Defendants Hollandsworth and Gibson both assert that they did not violate Plaintiff's constitutional rights and they are entitled to qualified immunity for their actions on December 12, 2012, and urge the Court to grant summary judgment. With the Motions fully briefed, and oral argument completed, this matter is ripe for consideration.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND1

A. Plaintiff's Prior Interactions with Law Enforcement

It is undisputed that, in 1999, prior to the incident giving rise to this suit, Plaintiff had been convicted of the felony offense of manufacture, sale, and possession of a controlled substance. Br. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., 3, ECF No. 63 [hereinafter "Mem. in Supp. of Gibson Mot."]; id., Ex. 6, Moody Deposition Excerpts, 68:3-15, ECF No. 63-6 [hereinafter "Moody Depo."]. It is also undisputed that Plaintiff sold narcotics to support himself between 2009 and 2012. Moody Depo. at 22:11-14.

On March 11, 2012, Hollandsworth pulled Plaintiff over for a traffic stop in Newport News, Virginia. Mem. in Supp. of

193 F.Supp.3d 535

Gibson Mot. at 3; id., Ex. 3, Hollandsworth Deposition Excerpts, 42:19-43:22, ECF No. 63-3 [hereinafter "Hollandsworth Depo."]. During this March 11, 2012 traffic stop, Plaintiff consented to a search of his person, and Hollandsworth discovered cocaine on Plaintiff. Hollandsworth Depo. at 43:5-14. Plaintiff was advised of his Miranda rights and was detained; Plaintiff then admitted to possession of the cocaine. Id. Hollandsworth next searched Plaintiff's vehicle and located more narcotics. Id. at 43:15-22. Based upon the discovery of narcotics on Plaintiff's person and in his vehicle, Hollandsworth, and other police officers, obtained a search warrant for Plaintiff's residence. Id. During execution of the search warrant at Plaintiff's residence, Hollandsworth found, among other things, cocaine, ecstasy, several types of ammunition, and a firearm in rooms that were under Plaintiff's control. Id. at 48:11-49:19. Drug and weapon charges were later filed in the Hampton Circuit Court and Newport News Circuit Court related to the items found during the traffic stop and the search of Plaintiff's residence. Id. at 43:19-25. While the state charges were pending, Plaintiff was placed on bond. See Transcript of Hearing on Mot. for Summ. J., 35:12-15, 47:19-23, ECF No. 94 [hereinafter "Transcript"]; Commonwealth v. Moody, CR12000671, Bond Order (Hampton, Va. Cir. Ct.). Ultimately, federal authorities adopted the case, prosecuting Plaintiff for possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, possessing a firearm in furtherance of such drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, and the Hampton and Newport News charges were dismissed as nolle prosequi. Id. at 60:3-15; Mem. in Supp. of Gibson Mot. at 4.

A valid federal arrest warrant was issued for Plaintiff, who was forty years old at the time, on November 15, 2012, based upon a three-count federal indictment for (1) possession with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) ; (2) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) ; and (3) possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Mem. in Supp. of Gibson Mot. at 4; id., Ex. 4, Moody Indictment, ECF No. 63-4; id., Ex. 10, Moody Arrest Warrant, ECF No. 63-10.

At some point prior to December 12, 2012, Hollandsworth was informed of the federal charges pending against Plaintiff. Mem. in Supp. of Gibson Mot. at 4. According to Hollandsworth, Special Agent Tim Jenkins of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency advised her that a "federal detainer" had been issued against Plaintiff, and he requested her assistance in locating Plaintiff. Hollandsworth Depo. at 56:1-19, 60:12-15. Special Agent Jenkins also informed Hollandsworth of Plaintiff's last known whereabouts and the make, model, and license plate number of the car that Plaintiff was believed to be driving. Def. Hollandsworth's Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 4, Hollandsworth's Answers to Plaintiff's First Set of Interrogatories, 2, ECF No. 60-4 [hereinafter "Hollandsworth Interrogatory Answers"].2 Hollandsworth looked for Plaintiff's vehicle "over several months" in the area reported to her by Special Agent Jenkins, and she located the vehicle known to be associated with Plaintiff on December 12, 2012. Id. at 2.

B. December 12, 2012

On the evening of December 12, 2012, after locating the vehicle known to be associated

193 F.Supp.3d 536

with Plaintiff, Hollandsworth, assisted by Tinsley, undertook surveillance of the apartment where the vehicle was located. Hollandsworth Depo. at 75:22-77:7. Hollandsworth and Tinsley asked fellow Newport News police officers Norris and Gibson for assistance with this surveillance. Id. at 76:8-15. During the surveillance, Hollandsworth observed a blue BMW, which she knew to have some relationship to Plaintiff, pull away from the apartment. Id. at 79:8-16. Hollandsworth and Tinsley suspected that Plaintiff was driving the vehicle, and began to follow the blue BMW in their unmarked police car. Mem. in Supp. of Gibson Mot. at 4-5; id., Ex. 9, Tinsley Deposition Excerpts, 62:11-63:6, ECF No. 63-9 [hereinafter "Tinsley Depo."]. While Hollandsworth and Tinsley followed the blue BMW, they observed the vehicle fail to signal a lane change. Tinsley Depo. at 64:3-18. Hollandsworth and Tinsley then activated the blue lights on their unmarked police vehicle and pulled over the blue BMW. Tinsley Depo. at 64:3-65:5. While pulling the vehicle over, Hollandsworth called in the traffic stop over the radio, notifying Gibson and Norris of the stop. Mem. in Supp. of Gibson Mot., Ex. 2, Gibson Deposition Excerpts, 28:7-29:4, ECF No. 63-2 [hereinafter "Gibson Depo."]; Tinsley Depo. at 64:10-18. Hollandsworth and Tinsley pulled the blue BMW over in the far left-hand lane, on an incline,3 on the 35th Street overpass in Newport News, Virginia, near the on-ramps for Interstate 664 South and Interstate 664 North. Tinsley Depo. at 64:3-65:5; Gibson Depo. at 29:9-15. After the blue BMW stopped in the far left-hand lane, Tinsley and Hollandsworth parked their unmarked police car behind the BMW. Gibson Depo. at 29:9-15; Hollandsworth Depo. at 112:22-25. Gibson and Norris, who arrived with their blue lights activated at the scene shortly after Tinsley and Hollandsworth arrived, parked their unmarked police car behind Tinsley and Hollandsworth's vehicle.4 Mem. in Supp. of Gibson Mot. at 5.

After pulling the blue BMW over, Hollandsworth exited the police vehicle and approached the right (passenger) side of the vehicle. Tinsley Depo. at 68:4-14. Hollandsworth progressed far enough forward on the right side of the blue BMW to identify Plaintiff (who she knew from her earlier interactions with him) as the driver, and she informed Tinsley as much by giving Tinsley a thumbs up and confirming that "it's him." Id. After Hollandsworth identified Plaintiff, she returned to the rear of Plaintiff's vehicle—walking-back the way that she had come—and circling around the back of Plaintiff's vehicle to eventually stand by the rear door on the left (driver) side. Id. at 68:8-15; Def. Hollandsworth's Mem. of Law in Supp. of...

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2 practice notes
  • Stokes v. Janosko, Civ. A. No. 16-64
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • March 12, 2019
    ...Lancaster Cty., Civ. A. No. 09-3106, 2009 WL 3682384, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 3, 2009); see also Moody v. City of Newport News Virginia, 193 F. Supp. 3d 530, 545-47 (E.D. Va. Jun. 16, 2016) (plaintiff failed to state an excessive force claim because bullets did not hit him and he was not seize......
  • Patrick v. City of Aiken, Civil Action No.: 1:16-cv-03496-JMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 27, 2019
    ...force, when such force is reasonable under the circumstances, in the course of his or her duty." Moody v. City of Newport News, Va., 193 F. Supp. 3d 530, 543 (E.D. Va. 2016). "Further, a reasonable officer may use deadly force '[w]here the officer has probable cause to believe that [a] susp......
2 cases
  • Stokes v. Janosko, Civ. A. No. 16-64
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • March 12, 2019
    ...Lancaster Cty., Civ. A. No. 09-3106, 2009 WL 3682384, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 3, 2009); see also Moody v. City of Newport News Virginia, 193 F. Supp. 3d 530, 545-47 (E.D. Va. Jun. 16, 2016) (plaintiff failed to state an excessive force claim because bullets did not hit him and he was not seize......
  • Patrick v. City of Aiken, Civil Action No.: 1:16-cv-03496-JMC
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • September 27, 2019
    ...force, when such force is reasonable under the circumstances, in the course of his or her duty." Moody v. City of Newport News, Va., 193 F. Supp. 3d 530, 543 (E.D. Va. 2016). "Further, a reasonable officer may use deadly force '[w]here the officer has probable cause to believe that [a] susp......

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