Smith v. Koon, C/A No.: 3:19-2155-JMC-SVH

CourtUnited States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtShiva V. Hodges United States Magistrate Judge
PartiesCarson Smith and Eva Smith, Plaintiffs, v. Brian "Jay" Koon, Lexington County Sheriff in his official capacity; Sheriff's Department of Lexington County; Thomas J. Bonnette, Jr., Lexington County Deputy; Sgt. Miles Rawl; John Does 1 through 5, individually and in her/their official capacity, Defendants.
Docket NumberC/A No.: 3:19-2155-JMC-SVH
Decision Date03 August 2020

Carson Smith and Eva Smith, Plaintiffs,
Brian "Jay" Koon, Lexington County Sheriff in his official capacity;
Sheriff's Department of Lexington County;
Thomas J. Bonnette, Jr., Lexington County Deputy;
Sgt. Miles Rawl; John Does 1 through 5,
individually and in her/their official capacity, Defendants.

C/A No.: 3:19-2155-JMC-SVH


August 3, 2020


Carson Smith ("Carson") and Eva Smith ("Eva") (collectively, "Plaintiffs") originally filed this matter in the Court of Common Pleas for Lexington County, South Carolina, asserting claims based on violations of their constitutional rights and violations of state law concerning Carson's allegedly unlawful arrest on October 13, 2017. [ECF No. 1-1]. Defendants Brian Jay Koon ("Koon,) the Sheriff's Department of Lexington County ("Sheriff's Department"), Thomas J. Bonnette, Jr. ("Bonnette"), Miles Rawl ("Rawl"), and John Does (collectively "Defendants") removed the action to this court on August 1, 2019. [ECF No. 1].

This matter is before the court on Defendants' motion for summary

Page 2

judgment. [ECF No. 13]. The motion having been fully briefed [ECF Nos. 14, 15, 16], it is ripe for disposition. Also before the court is Defendants' motion to strike the surreply brief [ECF No. 17] and Plaintiffs' unopposed motion to amend/correct their response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. [ECF No. 18, see also ECF No. 19].

All pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to the undersigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civ. Rule 73.02(B)(2)(f) (D.S.C.). Because the summary judgment motion is dispositive, this report and recommendation is entered for review by the district judge. For the following reasons, the undersigned denies Defendants' motion to strike, grants Plaintiff's motion to amend, and recommends granting in part and denying in part Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

I. Factual Background

A. Plaintiffs' Version of the Facts

The main event leading to Carson's arrest took place on October 6, 2017, at a convenience store called the Gator Mart, located near where Carson attended River Bluff High School ("RBHS") and adjacent to the home of Christopher Raines ("Raines") also known as A.J. Blues. [See ECF No. 14-1 ¶¶ 5, 7, 12].1

Page 3

Carson and Raines and their respective families were known to each other prior to the event in question. On August 25, 2017, Carson was at the Gator Mart and reports the following:

I saw A.J. Blues near the Gator Mart with a cross bow in his hand because of how he looked. I recall that he drove up toward the store but he was still on his property, near a driveway under a tree on the grass. I assumed this was his property. He also had a big stick for a while. There were about four to six students with me at this time. I did not say anything to A.J. Blues (Raines). He was honking his horn, revving the engine, and shouting at us.

Id. ¶ 7.

Thereafter, Carson alleges that another vehicle approached him driven by an older woman and an older man, who Carson later discovery was Raines's mother and stepfather, Marie and Dan Corley. Id. ¶ 8. The woman filmed the encounter with her phone, and the man threatened Carson and those standing with him and seemed to want to hit Carson, although Carson's older brother, Christopher Grant Smith ("Grant"), prevented that from happening. Id. Carson attests that "[t]he man got back into his car and drove back onto the next door property and that is when we saw him with a gun. I called 911." Id.

Page 4

Carson states the police arrived quickly, and both he and his brother explained to a police officer what happened. [ECF No. 14-1 ¶ 9, see also ECF No. 13-13 at 22 (August 25, 2017 police report)].2

Carson alleges that although he had heard of Raines, partially due to Raines having previously posted a video threatening Carson's family, Carson had not physically interacted with Raines other than the above and on the day in question, October 6, 2017. [ECF No. 14-1 ¶¶ 5-12, ECF No. 14-23 at 12:23-13:8, see also ECF No. 14-19 (September 2017 video of Raines filming Grant at the Gator Mart, stating "sooner or later one of them is going to get shot")].3

On the day in question, Carson and Grant pulled into the Gator Mart, driving a Ford Explorer and Ford F-150, respectively. [ECF No. 14-1 ¶ 12, ECF No. 14-15 ¶ 2].4 Carson attests as follows:

Page 5

I did see A.J. Blues, or it looked like him coming toward the Gator Mart. I do not know if he got on the property of the Gator Mart or he was still on his property. It was pretty clear he had a crossbow with him it appeared it was pointed in our direction to my recollection. I never got out of my car while at the Gator Mart and I left about just minutes later to go [to the] Waffle House. I then, while driving on the street, saw A.J. Blues come toward the car fast - he was running or walking fast. He yelled (it was loud) something at me, it was hard to hear at the time in the car, it sounded like stop or something like that. I could not really hear it and I slowed and asked "what." I saw A.J. Blues pointing the cross bow at the car then and I just drove away. I did not rev the engine.

Id. ¶ 12.

Carson then proceed to the Waffle House but received a call from Grant to return to the Gator Mart to speak with a police officer about the incident that had just occurred. Id. ¶ 13. Carson drove back and provided a statement. Id. Carson's parents, Eva and Chris Smith ("Chris"), as well as Grant (collectively, "the Smith family") were present. Id. Carson attests that he "did not call the police ever that night but I understood later my brother did call them that night either when I was leaving or afterward." Id.

According to Grant, a short time after the above incident occurred between Raines and Carson and apparently after Carson had departed the Gator Mart, Grant called his parents, and they arrived at the Gator Mart. [ECF No. 14-15 ¶ 3]. At the direction of Eva, Grant called the Sheriff's Department and "told the dispatcher a general summary of what happened" ("dispatch

Page 6

call"). [ECF No. 14-15 ¶ 3, ECF No. 14-2 ¶ 15]. The audio of the dispatch call reveals that Grant stated to the dispatcher, in part, as follows:

There is a man who is running in the middle of the road with a crossbow threatening people that drive by . . . . I prefer not to say my name since he's kinda like after me . . . . My name is Carson Smith . . . . He has a white shirt on . . . a fedora . . . he's white . . . . I'm pretty sure it is that A.J. Blues guy.
ECF No. 13-11]. Grant attests as follows concerning the dispatch call:
I did see this man (AJ Blues-Mr. Raines) yelling as he was running or walking fast towards my brother. Although it was dark out, Mr. Raines did have a crossbow with him and it appears to be directed toward us at some points which felt threatening. He did flash the crossbow at me as I rode by. I assumed he was probably was doing that to other people on the road near the Gator Mart and we just wanted the police to come and check it out because this man had been arrested for threatening to kill students a few weeks before this night. I never said he was running thru the Gator Mart parking lot with a crossbow to anyone. I realize now (after listening to the call for the first time) that the dispatcher said that and I did not correct her. I just gave her a description of the person. My Mom said it was okay to give the dispatcher my name and to tell her about what happened to Carson as well. In the confusion of listening to my mom talking and the dispatcher talking, I said my name was Carson instead of saying he was the victim (the one Mr. Raines was yelling at and advancing towards), which is what I intended to convey.

[ECF No. 14-15 ¶ 3].5

Following the incident, Grant recalls the officer asking Grant if he had "revved [his] engine when [he] rode past Mr. Raines' house earlier that

Page 7

evening." Id. ¶ 7. Grant responded that he had "gave it the gas," but also that he did that to "get out of the way of the strong spotlight that Mr. Raines was shining on [him] as [he] drove down Mill Stream," not to harass Raines. Id.

Grant attests that someone from the police department called him the next day, but he was at a football game and could not hear the officer well. Id. ¶ 4. The officer provided Grant a phone number, and Grant reported the call and number to Eva. Id.

Eva attests Grant informed her that Rawl contacted Grant and that she tried to contact Rawl and others at the police department multiple times that week unsuccessfully. [ECF No. 14-2 ¶ 16, see also ECF No. 13-3 at 17:3-7]. Eva attests she left multiple messages at the police department, but never received a response. [ECF No. 14-2 ¶ 16].6 On October 13, 2017, Rawl's supervisor contacted Eva and informed her that arrests warrants were out for Carson and Grant. Id. ¶ 17. Eva informed her sons, who turned themselves in. [ECF No. 14-1 ¶ 16, ECF No. 14-23 at 23:4-8]. Carson spent one night in jail and was

Page 8

given an ankle bracelet to track his movements. [ECF No. 14-23 at 28:5-29-12].

Thereafter Bill LaLima, Esq. ("LaLima"), was retained to represent Carson, and Bradley Kirkland, Esq. ("Kirkland"), was retained to represent Grant. [ECF No. 13-5 at 62:16-19, 64:17-20, see also ECF No. 14-27].7 Eventually the charge was dismissed against Carson on July 13, 2018. [ECF No. 13-18].

B. Defendants' Version of the Facts

On October 6, 2017, there was a report of a civil disturbance among Raines, Grant, and Carson, and both Raines and a caller identifying himself as Carson called in to report the incident. [ECF No. 13-8 ¶ 3, see also ECF No. 13-2, ECF No. 13-11, ECF No. 14-13].8 The police call report ("call report") concerning the dispatch call from the caller identifying himself as Carson states as follows: "Carson Smith - ADV WM w/ white shirt and fedora hat

Page 9

chasing people through the gas station...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT