Motley v. Parks

Decision Date21 September 2004
Docket NumberNo. 02-56648.,02-56648.
PartiesDarla MOTLEY; Juan Jamerson, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Bernard PARKS; Daryl Gates; Gerald Chaleff; Herbert Boeckman; T. Warren Jackson; Robert M. Talcott; Raymond C. Fisher; Guadalupe Sanchez; Gregory Kading; Al Ruegg; James Black; Lawrence Webster; Dean Hansell, Defendants-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Stephen Yagman, Marion R. Yagman, Joseph Reichmann, Kathryn S. Bloomfield, Yagman & Yagman & Reichmann, for plaintiffs-appellants Darla Motley and Juan Jamerson.

Rockard J. Delgadillo, Los Angeles City Attorney and Janet G. Bogigian, Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney for defendants-appellees Bernard Parks, Daryl Gates, Gregory Kading, and Albert Ruegg.

Robert F. Helfand, Elizabeth A. Keech, Deputy Attorneys General, State of California for defendant-appellee Guadalupe Sanchez.

David Pinchas, Assistant United States Attorney for defendants-appellees James Black and Larry Webster.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Margaret M. Morrow, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No.CV-00-01472-MMM.

Before: B. FLETCHER, PREGERSON, and BRUNETTI, Circuit Judges.

BETTY B. FLETCHER, Circuit Judge:

Darla Motley brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action on behalf of herself and her infant son Juan Jamerson, claiming that the defendants unlawfully searched her home and used excessive force against her infant son. The defendants-appellees are Albert Ruegg, Gregory Kading, Daryl Gates, and Bernard Parks of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD); Guadalupe Sanchez, a California Parole Officer; and James Black and Larry Webster, who are federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agents (collectively, "the officers"). The officers claim qualified immunity for their actions, and Motley appeals from two district court orders granting summary judgment on that basis. We reverse the district court's grant of qualified immunity to Ruegg, Sanchez, Kading, and Black on the search and excessive force claims. We affirm the grant of summary judgment to Webster, Gates, and Parks.


Janae Jamerson, a member of the Four Trey Crips gang, was released on parole on February 20, 1998, but was rearrested on February 3, 1999. On March 18, 1999, while Jamerson was in custody, LAPD supervisor Ruegg held a briefing for LAPD officers, federal ATF officers, and state parole officers regarding ten planned searches of parolees' residences in the Newton Street area. Jamerson's last known residence was on the list. The officers admit they had no reasonable suspicion to believe that Jamerson was involved in any crime; they were simply searching parolees as a way to "clean up" the Newton Street neighborhood.

The address information for the searches may have been compiled as early as November 1998, while the search took place in March 1999. Jamerson's in-custody status was listed on the state parole system, and Jamerson's parole officer knew he was in custody, but none of the officers assigned to conduct a parole search of Jamerson's last known residence checked to see if he was in custody on March 18, 1999.

At 10:00 or 10:30 that morning, four officers from the various agencies went to search what was allegedly Jamerson's residence. James Black and Larry Webster, the two ATF officers, went behind the house, and Parole Officer Guadalupe Sanchez and LAPD officer Gregory Kading went to the front door. One of the officers knocked on the door, and awakened Motley, Jamerson's girlfriend, who was asleep with their infant son, Juan Jamerson. Black joined Kading and Sanchez at the front of the house as soon as Motley answered the door.1

Motley testified that when she came to the door in her pajamas, Kading identified himself as an LAPD officer, said that he was there with Jamerson's parole officer, and asserted that they had a warrant to search the apartment. In fact, the officers had no warrant, and Jamerson's parole officer was neither present nor even aware of the planned search. Motley told the searching officers that Jamerson did not live there and that he was in custody.2 One of the officers told Motley that Jamerson had been released three days earlier. Motley countered that she knew Jamerson was still in custody. The searching officers asked who was inside with her, and Motley replied that only she and her five-week-old son were at home. Kading told Motley that if she did not let them in, they would arrest her and put her baby in foster care. Once the searching officers threatened to place her son in foster care, Motley unlocked the security gate. Kading pushed her against the door and out of his way as he went into the house.3

The searching officers went into the apartment with their guns drawn, and Sanchez, the parole officer, stayed in the living room while Kading and Black searched the apartment. Motley testified that during the search, the officers were "going through things," including closets and a file box, and that they "pulled out" a lot of things.

Before the officers searched the bedrooms, Motley told the officers that her son was in the back bedroom. When Kading entered this bedroom, he pointed his gun at Motley's baby, who was on his back on the bed, looking toward the bedroom door. When Motley heard her five-week-old son start screaming, she ran into the room, where Kading was still pointing the gun at the baby. According to Motley, Kading kept his gun trained on the baby while he searched the room, and only put his gun away when another officer came in and helped him examine a box at the foot of the bed. Motley testified that the search of this bedroom alone took twenty minutes.

During the officers' search of the apartment, Motley called Rasheed Davis, Jamerson's brother, and told Davis that the officers had threatened her and were searching her home. She asked Davis to come over to help her, and he arrived as the searching officers were leaving.4

The officers appeared to be mocking Motley during the search. One of the officers asked to whom the baby belonged, and when Motley told them that Janae Jamerson was the baby's father, the officers laughed at her. While searching one of the rooms, Kading asked where "that really nice ping pong table" was, as though he wanted to take Motley's things. As the officers were leaving, Kading shouted that Motley should "let them know that Newton Street had been here."

After the officers left, Motley called Jamerson's parole officer, Ms. Smith, and told her that officers had come and searched her entire home. Ms. Smith stated that she did not authorize the search and confirmed that Jamerson was still in custody. A few weeks after the search of her residence, Motley moved to San Pedro, because she was afraid to stay in the Newton Street area with her son.

Motley, on behalf of herself and her son Juan, filed a § 1983 action alleging that the officers violated their Fourth Amendment rights, used excessive force, conspired to violate their Fourth Amendment and equal protection rights, and that the law enforcement agencies were liable for the officers' actions under Monell v. Dep't of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). The district court granted summary judgment on all claims. Motley argues on appeal that the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity for the unlawful search, the use of excessive force against her infant son, and the Monell claims against Gates and Parks.


We review de novo the district court's decision regarding qualified immunity. Mena v. City of Simi Valley, 332 F.3d 1255, 1261 n. 2 (9th Cir.2003). Where material issues of fact are disputed, we "assume that the version of the facts asserted by the non-moving party is correct." Bingham v. City of Manhattan Beach, 341 F.3d 939, 942 (9th Cir.2003); see also Schwenk v. Hartford, 204 F.3d 1187, 1193 n. 3 (9th Cir.2000).

To determine whether law enforcement officers are entitled to qualified immunity, we first ask whether, "[t]aken in the light most favorable to the party asserting the injury, ... the facts alleged show the officer's conduct violated a constitutional right." Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201, 121 S.Ct. 2151, 150 L.Ed.2d 272 (2001). If we determine that there is a constitutional violation, we then examine whether the constitutional right was clearly established, such that a reasonable officer would have been aware that he was acting unlawfully. Id. at 202, 121 S.Ct. 2151. Although the inquiry into what is "clearly established" must be decided with reference to the specific situation the officers confronted, "officials can still be on notice that their conduct violates established law even in novel factual circumstances." Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 741, 122 S.Ct. 2508, 153 L.Ed.2d 666 (2002) (noting that the Supreme Court has expressly rejected a requirement that the facts of previous cases be fundamentally or even materially similar).

I. Fourth Amendment Violation: Unconstitutional Search

"The Fourth Amendment's touchstone is reasonableness, and the reasonableness of a search is determined by assessing, on the one hand, the degree to which it intrudes upon an individual's privacy and, on the other, the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests." United States v. Knights, 534 U.S. 112, 118-19, 122 S.Ct. 587, 151 L.Ed.2d 497 (2001) (citing Wyoming v. Houghton, 526 U.S. 295, 300, 119 S.Ct. 1297, 143 L.Ed.2d 408 (1999)). As the Supreme Court recently reiterated: "Because the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion stands at the very core of the Fourth Amendment, our cases have firmly established the basic principle of Fourth Amendment law that searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable." Groh v....

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