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Brown v. Boone County

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

September 5, 2014



TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, District Judge.

Currently before the Court is the Report and Recommendation ("R & R") (Doc. 48) of the Honorable James R. Marschewski, Chief United States Magistrate for the Western District of Arkansas, regarding Separate Defendants' (Boone County, Arkansas, Jail Administrator Jason Day, and Sheriff Mike Moore) Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 18).[1] Plaintiff Daniel Ray Brown ("Brown") has filed Objections to the R & R (Doc. 49). The Court has conducted a de novo review as to the Magistrate's findings and recommendations to which Brown has raised specific objections. 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the Magistrate's Recommendations are ADOPTED AS MODIFIED, to reflect this Court's additional findings and conclusions. Brown's Complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


While incarcerated at Boone County Detention Center ("BCDC"), Brown maintains that his constitutional rights were violated because: (1) Corporal Kaitlynn Rooney used excessive force against him when she drew her taser and pointed it at him in an effort to intimidate him; (2) smokeless tobacco was used in front of detainees; (3) Defendants capitalized on the nicotine addictions of inmates by selling e-cigarettes at high prices; (4) jailers are unprofessional and do not follow jail standards regarding the taser policy or use an incident log; and (5) Moore and Day failed to train employees in BCDC taser policy and they do not pre-screen jailers for mental problems or anger issues.[2] He also requests that Defendants be prohibited from using pepper spray and tasers. As compensation, Brown seeks money damages from all Defendants, whom he sues in both their individual and official capacities.[3]

The Court adopts the facts as set forth in the R & R, but will supplement those facts as necessary to address Brown's objections. Brown contends that Corporal Rooney entered his pod, after he was accused of passing a note through the pod door to female detainees. According to Brown, Rooney began using vulgar language and "drew her taser out as she came up the stairs towards me." (Doc. 1, p. 4). Brown contends this was a constitutionally excessive and unjustified use of force because he did not pose a threat to Rooney. In her Answer, Rooney generally denies all allegations in Brown's Complaint (Doc. 30). For summary judgment purposes, Brown's factual statements will be treated as if they were true.

The Magistrate found and recommends that: (1) Defendants are entitled to summary judgment because no reasonable juror could find that Rooney used excessive force, and even if they could, Rooney is entitled to qualified immunity; (2) there is no basis to support Brown's allegation that constitutional violations are implicated through BCDC's policy on the use of smokeless tobacco or sale of e-cigarettes; and (3) Brown's claim as to Defendants' alleged "unprofessional conduct" regarding threats and verbal abuse does not state a constitutional violation.

Brown offers two specific objections to the Magistrate's recommendation. First, he contends that he was subjected to excessive force when Rooney drew her taser and pointed it at him without justification. Second, Brown asserts that a pattern of abuse is evidenced by Separate Defendants Moore and Day's failure to investigate his claim, retain incident reports, and train jail staff in BCDC taser polices.[4]


A. Use of Excessive Force

Although it is undisputed that the taser was not deployed, Brown maintains that Rooney's actions in drawing her taser and pointing it at him without justification constitutes excessive force. Brown further contends that Moore and Day have allowed jailers to intimidate inmates in this fashion and that this behavior has become a pattern at BCDC.

When analyzing excessive force claims of pretrial detainees, courts apply an "objective reasonableness" standard. Andrews v. Neer, 253 F.3d 1052, 1060 (8th Cir. 2001).

The injuries detainees suffer must be necessarily incident to administrative interests in safety, security and efficiency. Constitutionally infirm practices are those that are punitive in intent, those that are not rationally related to a legitimate purpose or those that are rationally related but are excessive in light of their purpose.

Johnson-El v. Schoemehl, 878 F.2d 1043, 1048-49 (8th Cir. 1989).

Whether there has been excessive force is determined under a totality of the circumstances analysis. The Supreme Court has said that "[t]he reasonableness' of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, " and that the "calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments-in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and ...

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