Parker v. Deguito

Decision Date28 March 2022
Docket Number20cv00661-LL-JLB
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of California
PartiesROBERT L. PARKER, Ph.D., an individual, Plaintiff, v. VINCE DEGUITO, an individual; JONATHAN BECERRA, an individual; CARRIE HOGAN, an individual, Defendant.


HON LINDA LOPEZ United States District Judge.


Plaintiff Robert L. Parker, Ph.D., an individual (Plaintiff), appearing pro se[1], brings this civil rights action against Defendants Vince Deguito, an individual (“Sergeant Deguito”); Jonathan Becerra, an individual (“Detective Becerra”); and Carrie Hogan, an individual (“Officer Hogan”) (collectively, Defendants), who are all current or former officers of the San Diego State University Police Department (“SDSUPD”).

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (“Motion”). ECF No. 30. The Motion was submitted on the papers without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1) and Rule 78(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 46. After considering the papers submitted, supporting documentation, and applicable law, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion because no genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights were violated, meaning Defendant is entitled to summary judgment in its favor as to all of his claims. The Court also OVERRULES both parties' evidentiary objections but GRANTS Defendant's Request for Judicial Notice.

A. Statement of Facts[2]

On March 4, 2019, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Plaintiff, a 6”4, 221-pound male, alleges that he began exercising in the San Diego State University (“SDSU”) Aztec Recreation Center (the “ARC”). Complaint, ECF No. 1 (“Compl.”) at 2, [3] ¶ 11; see also Plaintiff's Deposition, ECF No. 30-1 (Pltff. Dep.) at 22:22-25. Around 7:30 p.m., he began using an unoccupied treadmill and noticed a small white towel in the treadmill's cup holder. Compl. at 3, ¶ 13. Shortly after he started using the treadmill, Plaintiff noticed an adult male, Joseph Dolan, who told him the white towel was his and meant to reserve the treadmill for him. Id.; see also Plaintiff's Opposition, ECF No. 32 (“Oppo.”) at 7:14-20. However, Plaintiff alleges that because the ARC has a policy of forbidding people from “reserving” exercise equipment in such a manner, he continued exercising on the treadmill. Id. at 3, ¶¶ 15-16. Plaintiff pleads that Dolan began yelling, turned off Plaintiff's treadmill, removed Plaintiff's headphones from the treadmill's sound system, and “verbally berated” Plaintiff. Id. at 3-4, ¶ 16; Oppo. at 7:14-20. Although Plaintiff disputes being involved in any altercation, Plaintiff “was reported to [have] be[en] in a physical and verbal altercation with another patron in the cardio room over a treadmill.” Evidence in Support of Oppo., ECF No. 33, Confidential Police Report of Carrie Hogan[4](“Hogan Report”), at 109.

1.The First Call to Campus Police

At 7:32 p.m., ARC staff called to report the altercation between Plaintiff and Dolan, and Detective Becerra arrived to address it. Compl. at 4, ¶ 17; Declaration of Jonathan Becerra at 30-1 (Becerra Decl.) at 8, ¶ 2; Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment ECF No. 30 (“Mot.”) at 11:5-6.

Taylor Leveron (“Leveron”), an ARC front desk staff member, did not witness the fight but heard there was a fight over a treadmill while she was on break. Evidence in Support of Oppo., ECF No. 33, Supplement 3 to Confidential Police Report (“Suppl. Report”) at 114; Hogan Report at 110; Evidence in Support of Oppo., ECF No. 33, Confidential Police Report of Jonathan Becerra (“Becerra Report”) at 112. When she arrived at the scene of the altercation, she saw another staff member, standing in between Plaintiff and Dolan. Suppl. Report at 114. She instructed Plaintiff to step way, but he “said he absolutely would not.” Id. Dolan also refused to step away from Plaintiff. Id. Eventually, Leveron and Plaintiff went into a hallway where she states Plaintiff yelled at her, and she told him if he was not willing to talk to her, he would need to leave for the night. Id. She followed Plaintiff out of the building. Id.; see also Becerra Report at 113; Compl. at 4, ¶ 17. She also told SDSUPD that she spoke with Dolan, who told her that he did not argue with Plaintiff, but Plaintiff “punched him randomly in the face.” Suppl. Report at 114; Becerra Report at 113. However, Dolan refused medics, did not want to file a police report, and left the gym. Becerra Report at 113.

Because Plaintiff had left the gym, when Detective Becerra arrived, he cleared the call and left. Becerra Decl. at 9, ¶ 2; Mot. at 11:6-10.

2. The Second Call to Campus Police

Approximately fifteen minutes after first leaving the gym, Plaintiff returned to continue his workout. Compl. at 4, ¶ 17; Suppl. Report at 114; Becerra Report at 113. Upon re-starting his workout, Plaintiff pleads that he attracted the attention of an ARC staff member, intending to display peaceful intentions that all was well. Id. at 4, ¶ 18. He believed the incident had been misinterpreted, suspected the police would be summoned again, and Plaintiff would be falsely accused, so he walked slowly toward the front lobby. Compl. at 4, ¶ 19; Oppo. at 8:2-5. Leveron, on the other hand, states she asked to speak with Plaintiff, but he told her “let's deal with this outside” and would “only handle this outside.” Suppl. Report at 114; Hogan Report at 110; Becerra Report at 113; Mot. at 11:11- 19; Becerra Decl. at 9, ¶ 3; Declaration of Carrie Hogan, ECF No. 30-1 (Hogan Decl.) at 5, ¶ 2. Leveron told Plaintiff for the second time that night that he was not to come inside the ARC, but Plaintiff told her it was his right. Suppl. Report at 114. While Leveron spoke with Plaintiff, another ARC employee, Tom Jimenez, pressed the panic alarm button. Id. At 7:54 p.m., Leveron, who interpreted Plaintiff asking her to go outside as a threat, also triggered the panic alarm and called the campus security officers a second time. Id.; see also Mot. at 11:11-19; Becerra Decl. at 9, ¶ 3; Compl. at 4, ¶ 19; Hogan Decl. At 5, ¶ 2.

While at the gym exit, [5] Plaintiff was met by Officer Hogan, a 5”7, 140-pound female, who arrived to investigate the earlier reports of a physical altercation. Hogan Decl. at 5, ¶ 4; Compl. at 4, ¶ 20; Mot. at 12:14. Before Officer Hogan could question Leveron, Plaintiff approached Officer Hogan, making eye contact with her while starting the audio recorder on his phone. Oppo. at 8:6-7; Mot. at 11:20-24. Plaintiff states that he stopped about six feet from her when Officer Hogan swept her arm rightward, motioning to the path beside her that led to the exit. Oppo. at 8, ¶¶ 2-3 (citing Pltff. Decl. at 6, ¶ 8). At this point in time, Plaintiff understood he was free to leave. Id. However, he approached Hogan, and they had the following conversation:

Plaintiff: I just finished my workout. I'm recording you. What do you want to talk about?
Hogan: I'm trying to figure out what's going on. I was called here because there was a fight.
Plaintiff: Okay. I'm asserting my Fifth Amendment rights to not speak.
Hogan: Well … well, what's going on? Are you-
Plaintiff: I assert my Fifth Amendment right to not talk. Do you not understand that? That means you can't question me any further.
Hogan: Yes, I can because you are not under arrest, sir. You're being detained[6] … because I don't know what's going on.
Plaintiff: I assert my Fifth Amendment right not to speak.
Hogan: Okay. We'll stand by for a minute. We'll wait for my partner, and we'll go from there.
Plaintiff: I'm not being detained am I?

See Pltff. Decl at 5, ¶ 3 (providing a copy of the audio file[7] in support of his declaration in opposition to Defendants' motion); see also Audio File at 0:32-1:01; see also Oppo. At 8:24-9:25, 11:24-12:13:6 (describing the same encounter).[8] Around this point in the conversation, Plaintiff asserted that he was not being detained and started to leave for the first time. Mot. at 12:9-10; Oppo. at 9:19. Officer Hogan responded to Plaintiff's inquiry about whether he was being detained by stating, “Yes, you are [being detained]. Stop. Back up.” Audio File at 1:01-1:02. The conversation continued as follows:

Plaintiff: I'm being detained? Am I being detained…For what reason am I being detained.
Hogan: Because I'm doing an investigation.[9]
Plaintiff: For what reason…
Hogan: Back up.[10]
Plaintiff: For what lack of compliance with the law am I being detained? I took a step back. For what lack of the law am I being detained?
Hogan: Because you were in a physical fight with someone. I'm trying to figure out who…
Plaintiff: There was no physical fight.
Hogan: I don't know that. I was called-
Plaintiff: [to Leveron] Did you think there was a physical fight?
Leveron: I was told by multiple people there was.
Plaintiff: Was there a fight? I'm asserting my Fifth Amendment right not to speak … Am I being detained?
Hogan: Yes, you are being detained. I told you that sir.
Plaintiff: Okay, I'm being detained for no reason-for some reason somebody says I'm being detained.
Hogan: Do you want to tell me what's going on, so I can un-detain you?
Plaintiff: [Raising voice] I already asserted my Fifth Amendment right. You may no longer question me.
Hogan: You are not under arrest.
Plaintiff: It doesn't matter.
Hogan: Sir, it doesn't apply to Miranda, okay so you're not understanding what it means.
Plaintiff: I assert my right to remain silent.
Hogan: We'll just wait for my partner. We'll figure out what's going on.
Plaintiff: Am I being detained?
Hogan: Yes, you are.
Plaintiff: Why am I being

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