Turner v. Lieutenant Driver, 021617 FED5, 16-10312

Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Judge Panel:Before WIENER, CLEMENT, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges. EDITH BROWN CLEMENT, Circuit Judge, dissenting as to Parts III.A.2 & III.B.1.b:
Opinion Judge:WIENER, Circuit Judge
Party Name:PHILLIP TURNER, Plaintiff - Appellant v. LIEUTENANT DRIVER, in his individual capacity; OFFICER GRINALDS, Badge Number 3825, in his individual capacity; OFFICER DYESS, Badge Number 2586, in his individual capacity, Defendants-Appellees
Case Date:February 16, 2017
Docket Nº:16-10312

PHILLIP TURNER, Plaintiff - Appellant


LIEUTENANT DRIVER, in his individual capacity; OFFICER GRINALDS, Badge Number 3825, in his individual capacity; OFFICER DYESS, Badge Number 2586, in his individual capacity, Defendants-Appellees

No. 16-10312

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

February 16, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas

          Before WIENER, CLEMENT, and HIGGINSON, Circuit Judges.

          WIENER, Circuit Judge

         Plaintiff-Appellant Phillip Turner was video recording a Fort Worth police station from a public sidewalk across the street when Defendants-Appellees Officers Grinalds and Dyess approached him and asked him for identification. Turner refused to identify himself, and the officers ultimately handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a patrol car. The officers' supervisor, Defendant-Appellee Lieutenant Driver, arrived on scene and, after Driver checked with Grinalds and Dyess and talked with Turner, the officers released Turner. He filed suit against all three officers and the City of Fort Worth under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his First and Fourth Amendment rights. Each officer filed a motion to dismiss, insisting that he was entitled to qualified immunity on Turner's claims. The district court granted the officers' motions, concluding that they were entitled to qualified immunity on all of Turner's claims against them. Turner timely appealed. We affirm in part and reverse and remand in part.

         I. Facts and Proceedings A. Facts1

         In September 2015, Turner videotaped the Fort Worth Police Station from a public sidewalk across the street from the station. He was unarmed. While videotaping, Turner observed Fort Worth Police Officers Grinalds and Dyess pull up in a patrol car in front of the station, get out, and approach him.

         Grinalds asked Turner, "How's it going, man? Got your ID with you?" Turner continued videotaping, and Grinalds repeatedly asked Turner if he had any identification. Turner asked the officers whether he was being detained, and Grinalds responded that Turner was being detained for investigation and that the officers were concerned about who was walking around with a video camera. Turner asked for which crime he was being detained, and Grinalds replied, "I didn't say you committed a crime." Grinalds elaborated, "We have the right and authority to know who's walking around our facilities."

         Grinalds again asked for Turner's identification, and Turner asked Grinalds, "What happens if I don't ID myself?" Grinalds replied, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." Grinalds continued to request Turner's identification, which Turner refused to provide. Grinalds and Dyess then "suddenly and without warning" handcuffed Turner and took his video camera from him, and Grinalds said, "This is what happens when you don't ID yourself."

         Turner requested to see a supervisor. Grinalds continued to ask for Turner's ID and told him that he would be fingerprinted so the officers could learn his identity. The officers placed the handcuffed Turner in the back of their patrol car and "left him there to sweat for a while with the windows rolled up." Turner alleges that no air was getting to the back seat and that he banged on the door so the officers would roll down the windows.

         Lieutenant Driver approached Grinalds and Dyess, and they "seemingly ignored Mr. Turner." The three officers then rolled down the windows of the patrol car and found Turner lying down in the back seat. Lieutenant Driver identified himself as the commander. Driver asked Turner what he was doing, and Turner explained that he was taking pictures from the sidewalk across the street. Driver asked Turner for his ID, and Turner told the lieutenant that he did not have to identify himself because he had not been lawfully arrested and that he chose not to provide his identification. Driver responded, "You're right."

         Driver walked away and talked with the officers, then returned to the patrol car and talked with Turner. Turner said, "You guys need to let me go because I haven't done anything wrong." Driver again walked away from the car, talked on the phone, and spoke further with the officers. They returned to the car and took Turner out of the back seat. Driver "lectur[ed]" Turner, and the officers finally released him and returned his camera to him. B. Proceedings

         In October 2015, Turner filed suit in the Northern District of Texas against Driver, Grinalds, and Dyess (collectively, "defendants") in their individual capacities. Each officer filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Turner filed an amended complaint in January 2016, adding the City of Fort Worth as a defendant.2 Turner brought claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against all defendants, alleging that they violated his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.3 Turner sought compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys fees and costs, and declaratory judgment that the defendants had violated his constitutional rights.

         The three officers filed motions to dismiss Turner's amended complaint. The district court granted the motions to dismiss on the basis of qualified immunity. The court reasoned that Turner failed to meet his burden of showing that the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity because he failed to show that their actions violated any of his clearly established statutory or constitutional rights or that their actions were objectively unreasonable.[4] Turner timely appealed.


         Standard of Review

         We review a district court's grant of a motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity de novo.5 We accept all well-pleaded facts as true and view them in the light most favorable to the non-movant.6 "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"7 "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."8 "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice."[9] Although a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations, " the "allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level."[10] "[C]onclusory allegations or legal conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss."11



         "To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must first show a violation of the Constitution or of federal law, and then show that the violation was committed by someone acting under color of state law."[12] "The doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials from civil damages liability when their actions could reasonably have been believed to be legal."13 When a defendant raises a qualified immunity defense, the plaintiff has the burden of demonstrating the inapplicability of that defense.14 To meet this burden, the plaintiff must show "(1) that the official violated a statutory or constitutional right, and (2) that the right was 'clearly established' at the time of the challenged conduct."15 Like the district court, we have the discretion to decide which prong of the qualified immunity analysis to address first.16

         A. First Amendment

         The district court concluded that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on Turner's First Amendment claim because he failed to demonstrate that the defendants' actions violated a clearly established right or that their actions were objectively unreasonable. In particular, the district court ruled that a First Amendment right to video record police activity was not clearly established. The district court's analysis rested on the second, "clearly established, " prong, so we begin there.

         1. Whether the Right Was Clearly Established in September 2015

         For a right to be clearly established, "[t]he contours of the right must be sufficiently clear that a reasonable official would understand that what he is doing violates that right."17 Thus, the right must already be clearly established "at the time of the challenged conduct."18 When considering whether a defendant is entitled to qualified immunity, the court "must ask whether the law so clearly and unambiguously prohibited his conduct that 'every reasonable official would understand that what he is doing violates [the law].'"19 "To answer that question in the affirmative, we must be able to point to controlling authority-or a robust consensus of persuasive authority-that defines the contours of the right in question with a high degree of particularity."20 "Where no controlling authority specifically...

To continue reading