Shreve v. Franklin Cnty.

Citation743 F.3d 126
Decision Date06 February 2014
Docket NumberNo. 13–3119.,13–3119.
PartiesRobert SHREVE et al., Plaintiffs, Michael Reed, Individually, Plaintiff–Appellant, v. FRANKLIN COUNTY, OHIO et al., Defendants–Appellees.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)


ON BRIEF: Noure Alo, Harrison Alo, Attorneys at Law, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellant. Mary Jane Martin, Franklin County, Ohio Prosecutor's Office, Columbus, Ohio, for Appellees.

Before: BOGGS, CLAY, and GILMAN, Circuit Judges.

GILMAN, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which BOGGS, J., joined. CLAY, J. (pp. 139–49), delivered a separate dissenting opinion.



This case arises out of a putative class action against Franklin County, Ohio, its sheriff Zachary Scott, and 14 of the sheriff's deputies for allegedly using excessive force against detainees in the county jail and for violating the privacy of detainees through strip searches. Settlements were reached with all the plaintiffs other than Michael Reed, leaving Reed as the only detainee whose claims are presently before us. Reed alleges that the deputies used excessive force against him, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, when they subdued him with a Taser while he was in custody. He also argues that the county failed to train the deputies on the proper use of Tasers, thereby creating a policy and practice of abuse.

The defendants moved for summary judgment, with the individual defendants claiming qualified immunity and all defendants denying any constitutional violation. After determining that “no rational fact finder could conclude that the defendant deputies acted with conscience-shocking malice or sadism towards Mr. Reed during either the Cell Incident or the Hospital Incident,” the district court granted the defendants' motion. For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

A. Factual background

Reed's claims arise out of two incidents that both occurred on January 29, 2009. In the first incident (the Cell Incident), which took place inside Reed's cell at the Franklin County Corrections Center II (FCCC II), the sheriff's deputies were unable to handcuff Reed due to his resistance and twice used a Taser to subdue him. The second incident (the Hospital Incident) occurred later that day at the Mount Carmel West Hospital Emergency Room. There, a deputy used a Taser on Reed after Reed lunged at the deputy.

1. The Cell Incident

The genesis of the events leading to Reed's detention began in the early 1990s when Reed was involved in a motorcycle accident. As a result of the accident, Reed suffers from seizures. In August 2008, Reed had a seizure while walking down the street in Columbus, Ohio. Emergency personnel arrived and tried to take Reed to the hospital, but Reed violently resisted. Reed was taken into custody and charged with assaulting a peace officer.

The Franklin County Common Pleas Court found Reed not guilty by reason of insanity in December 2008 and ordered him committed to the Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare Forensic Unit. But because the Twin Valley facility did not have space for Reed, he was still at FCCC II in January 2009.

On January 29, 2009, Reed suffered a seizure in his cell. Several sheriff's deputies entered the cell and attempted to handcuff Reed in order to transport him to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. In their efforts to handcuff Reed, the deputies used a Taser on him twice. The entire incident is captured on video. Neither party contests the video's admissibility or its completeness in portraying the relevant events. Instead, the parties dispute whether the video shows that the deputies violated Reed's constitutional rights by using excessive force.

The video shows Reed sitting on the floor of his cell, apparently disoriented, with his hands raised and a cut above his left eye. As the recording begins, the deputies tell Reed four times to “Put your hands behind you.” The deputies explain to Reed that they are “going to put some cuffs on you for your safety and ours.” Reed then lowers his hands slightly, and a deputy takes Reed's left hand, moves it behind Reed's back, and places one of the handcuffs on that hand.

But as the deputy tries to take Reed's right hand and attach it to the other handcuff, Reed pulls the hand back and holds it across his chest. Deputies then coax Reed to sit up, but Reed twists to his left, leans back, and begins groaning. While this is taking place, the deputies tell Reed four more times to put his hands behind his back. Now lying on the floor on his back, Reed again grasps the cuff on his left hand with his right. Twice more the deputies tell Reed to put his hands behind his back. They also tell Reed that he is “going to get Tased” if he does not cooperate and, four times, that it will hurt. The deputies then tell him three more times to “let go of the cuff.” At the same time, a deputy again tries to pull Reed's hands apart and finish handcuffing him.

During this time, the deputies were aware that Reed's loose handcuff posed a threat to their physical safety. One stated that he considered the loose handcuff “a major danger.” Another said that the open handcuff presented a “sharp [and] jagged edge” and that people had been killed from open handcuffs used as a weapon. This deputy had been trained never to lose control of an inmate with a loose handcuff.

Unsuccessful in all their efforts, the deputies step back from Reed and a different deputy volunteers to “get his cuff.” Two deputies try to pry Reed's hands apart, but are unable to do so. Reed then crawls towards the officers, at which point a deputy uses a Taser on Reed. Reed falls onto his back and begins groaning and shaking in pain. A deputy then instructs Reed, “Don't fight anymore.”

Recovering from the shock, Reed reaches towards the deputies and says “OK, OK, OK.” Reed again raises his hands in the air. The deputies instruct Reed “put your hands behind your back” eight times. But Reed mumbles something unintelligible and then says “please.” Reed continues to hold his hands in front of him and says “please, please, please, please.” Three deputies again attempt to grab Reed's hands and secure the right handcuff on him, but are unsuccessful.

A deputy then uses the Taser on Reed a second time. Reed is told that they need to handcuff him so that they can take him out of the cell for medical treatment. One asks him “Do you want to get shocked again? Say no. Say no.” Even after using a Taser twice, three deputies struggled to get the handcuff on Reed's right hand. Approximately two minutes after entering the cell, the deputies were finally able to secure the handcuff.

Reed continued to thrash about, even with both hands handcuffed behind his back. After five deputies held Reed down and made three further commands to “stop resisting,” the deputies finally managed to subdue Reed's thrashing on the cell floor. The deputies were then able to secure leg irons on Reed and walk him out of his cell.

2. The Hospital Incident

According to the deposition testimony of Deputy James Dishong, he and Deputy Matthew Carter drove Reed to Mount Carmel West Hospital after Reed was secured. Deputy Dishong's account of what happened at the hospital is uncontested in the record; no other depositions or record evidence speak to the incident.

Dishong testified that he and Carter took Reed to the hospital and eventually into a small examination space bordered by a wall and curtains where Reed was seen by a nurse practitioner. In the examination space, Dishong removed Reed's handcuffs and used them to attach Reed's leg irons to the bed rail, giving Reed approximately a five-foot radius of movement. The examination itself took place without incident.

Dishong, Carter, and Reed were waiting for the paperwork to be completed when Carter stepped out to use the restroom. As soon as Carter was gone, Reed turned to his left and began muttering. Dishong asked Reed if everything was all right. Reed continued muttering and squatted on the bed. Dishong told Reed to “lay back down,” but Reed did not heed Dishong's command. He instead asked Dishong: “Do you want a piece of me?”

Dishong again instructed Reed to “lay back” or he would “have to be forced to tase you.” At that point Reed lunged toward Dishong with his hands raised. Dishong Tased him, the probes striking Reed's right shoulder and left leg. Reed struck the wall and fell to the floor.

B. Procedural background

In September 2012, the defendants moved for summary judgment on Reed's individual claims. Reed timely responded, but did not file any affidavits or additional proof in support of his Brief in Opposition. The district court granted summary judgment for all the defendants. Canvassing the record, the court found no evidence that they had acted with the requisite intent—“maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of causing harm”—to violate Reed's Fourteenth Amendment rights. See Darrah v. City of Oak Park, 255 F.3d 301, 306 (6th Cir.2001) (setting forth the standard for liability under the Fourteenth Amendment).

Reed argues on appeal that the district court erred because it “relied on the Defendant's [sic] narration of facts” and thus “failed to view the facts in the light most favorable to the non[-]moving party.” His brief offers an alternative narration of the facts, relying on the video and his Second Amended Complaint. He claims that the “officers could have handcuffed Mr. Reed without the use of a Taser. Their utilization of the Taser in this instance was a clear violation of department policy relating to the usage of Tasers.” The defendants respond that the district court correctly determined that Reed identified no genuine dispute of material fact, that Reed's claims arise under the Fourteenth Amendment, and that the court correctly found that Reed suffered no constitutional violation.

A. Operative pleading


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