United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
TERESA RUDD, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of CHAVIS CHACOBIE CARTER, deceased PLAINTIFF
THE CITY OF JONESBORO, et al . DEFENDANTS
OPINION AND ORDER
Kristine G. Baker United States District Judge.
28, 2012, Chavis Chacobie Carter tragically committed suicide
in the back seat of a police car in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Mr.
Carter's mother, Teresa Rudd, individually and as the
administratrix of Mr. Carter's estate, brings this action
against four defendants: the City of Jonesboro; Ronald Marsh,
individually and in his official capacity as a police officer
with the City of Jonesboro; Keith Baggett, individually and
in his official capacity as a police officer with the City of
Jonesboro; and Michael Yates, individually and in his
official capacity as Chief of Police for the City of
Jonesboro. In her complaint, Ms. Rudd alleges six types of
claims against the defendants: (1) various violations of Mr.
Carter's rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and
Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution
against Officers Baggett and Marsh; (2) municipal liability
for failure to train against Chief Yates and the City of
Jonesboro; (3) various violations of Mr. Carter's civil
rights under Arkansas law including his rights under Article
II of the Arkansas Constitution and the Arkansas Civil Rights
Act, codified at Ark. Code Ann. § 16-123-101, et
seq., to be free from unreasonable search and seizure,
cruel and unusual punishment, excessive force, and to be
afforded due process of law; (4) negligence; (5) negligent
hiring, supervision, and retention; and (6) wrongful death.
the Court is defendants' motion for summary judgement
(Dkt. No. 42). Ms. Rudd has responded to defendants'
motion, and the defendants have replied to Ms. Rudd's
response (Dkt. Nos. 46; 47). In her response to
defendants' motion, Ms. Rudd concedes that defendants are
entitled to summary judgment on “Counts 3, 4, 5, and 6
of the Complaint” (Dkt. No. 46-2, at 5). Count 3
alleges violations of Mr. Carter's civil rights under
Arkansas law. Counts 4 and 5 allege negligence and negligent
hiring, supervision, and retention, respectively. Count 6
alleges wrongful death. Ms. Rudd also “does not contest
Chief Yates' immunity in his individual capacity”
and “does not allege that any written municipal policy
was per se unconstitutional on its face in the
‘pure' sense, as contemplated in Monell v.
Dep't of Soc. Servs. of City of New York, 436 U.S.
658 (1978)” (Id.). Ms. Rudd objects to summary
judgment “with respect to the individual liability of
Defendants Baggett and Marsh as well as the City's
municipal liability for failure to train”
(Id.). Therefore, the Court will limit its analysis
to the claims to which Ms. Rudd responds, not those she
following reasons, the Court grants defendants' motion
for summary judgment (Dkt. No. 42). Ms. Rudd's claims are
dismissed with prejudice, with the exception of her Fourth
Amendment claim. The Court directs the parties to notify the
Court within seven days of the entry of this Order as to
whether any Fourth Amendment claims remain pending in this
following facts are taken from Ms. Rudd's response in
opposition to defendants' statement of undisputed
material facts, unless otherwise indicated (Dkt. No. 46-1).
On July 28, 2012, Officer Baggett was dispatched to Haltom
Street in Jonesboro, Arkansas, after a citizen reported that
a white truck was suspiciously driving up and down the street
with its lights off. Upon arriving at Haltom Street, Officer
Baggett saw a white truck parked with only its parking lights
on. Officer Baggett turned on his police cruiser's blue
lights and made contact with the occupants of the truck (Dkt.
No. 43-1, ¶ 6).
Caucasian males and an African American male were seated in
the front seat of the truck. Officer Baggett asked them to
identify themselves. The driver produced a driver's
license identifying him as Sean Hembry. The other two
occupants did not have identification, so they provided names
and dates of birth. The man seated in the middle stated that
his name was Timothy Teal and that he was born on July 19,
1993. The other passenger said that his name was Laryan
Bowman and that he was born on April 4, 1991. Officer Baggett
ran this information through dispatch and only got a return
on Mr. Hembry. Officer Baggett then requested a second
officer to assist him, and Officer Marsh radioed that he
would respond to Officer Baggett's location (Dkt. No.
43-1, ¶ 11). Officer Baggett got more information from
Mr. Teal and Mr. Bowman and was able to get a return on Mr.
Teal from dispatch, but not on Mr. Bowman. Officer Marsh
arrived at the scene, and Officer Baggett had him take Mr.
Bowman from the truck to his squad car.
Marsh asked Mr. Bowman about his name and whether he had any
drugs on him. At this point, Mr. Bowman identified himself as
Chavis Chacobie Carter and “handed Officer Marsh a
small bag of what appeared to be marijuana, which he had in
his front shirt pocket” (Dkt. No. 46-1, ¶
Officer Marsh checked Mr. Carter's shorts pockets, then
grabbed hold of his pants and shook them up and
down. He then placed Mr. Carter in the back of
his police car. Mr. Carter was not handcuffed and was allowed
to keep his cell phone. At some point, when Officer Marsh
returned to his car to check Mr. Carter's identification,
he took the cell phone from Mr. Carter.
Mr. Carter was placed in the police car, a data base search
of his real name revealed that there was an active warrant
out of the state of Mississippi for his arrest. Officer
Baggett also found a set of scales under the passenger seat
of the truck where Mr. Carter had been seated. Officer Marsh
removed Mr. Carter from the back of his police car, searched
him, and placed him under arrest for the outstanding
Mississippi warrant. Officer Marsh cuffed Mr. Carter's
hands behind his back and returned him to the back seat of
his police car, where Mr. Carter had previously been.
Officers Baggett and Marsh were a short distance away from
Officer Marsh's car when they heard a sound, but they
were not sure of its origin. Within two minutes, the officers
returned to their cars. When Officer Marsh got in his car, he
smelled gun powder. He turned around and saw that Mr. Carter
had shot himself in the head with a Cobra .380
pistol.Mr. Carter was still alive, and the
officers radioed for emergency medical services. Mr. Carter
ultimately died from the gunshot wound. Dr. Stephen A.
Erickson, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner at the Arkansas State
Crime Laboratory and Pathologist of Record, declared that Mr.
Carter committed suicide.
internal affairs investigation was convened to investigate
Mr. Carter's death. The report concluded that Officer
Marsh's initial search of Mr. Carter was improper, as the
search “is visible on [Officer] Baggett's video and
it did not appear to include him actually touching Mr.
Carter's body at all except to touch the back of his arm
as he is walking him back to his unit” (Dkt. No. 46-1,
¶ 25). The report also noted that a “search of the
backseat would have been warranted and preferable, but that
was not done” (Id.). According to the report,
Officer Marsh searched the back seat of his police unit
earlier in his shift, and no one had been in the unit after
his previous search. Based on that information, the report
concluded that it was “very likely that the weapon Mr.
Carter used to shoot himself . . . was concealed in the unit
while he was seated in the unit without being handcuffed and
then retrieved by him after the second, more thorough
search” (Id.). Ms. Rudd does not offer an
alternate theory on how Mr. Carter came to possess the gun in
the back of Officer Marsh's police vehicle, and she does
not dispute that Mr. Carter ended his own life.
Standard of Review
judgment is proper if the evidence, when viewed in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party, shows that there is no
genuine issue of material fact in dispute and that the
defendant is entitled to entry of judgment as a matter of
law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A factual dispute is genuine if the
evidence could cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict
for either party. Miner v. Local 373, 513 F.3d 854,
860 (8th Cir. 2008). “The mere existence of a factual
dispute is insufficient alone to bar summary judgment;
rather, the dispute must be outcome determinative under
prevailing law.” Holloway v. Pigman, 884 F.2d
365, 366 (8th Cir. 1989). However, parties opposing a summary
judgment motion may not rest merely upon the allegations in
their pleadings. Buford v. Tremayne, 747 F.2d 445,
447 (8th Cir. 1984). The initial burden is on the moving
party to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323. The
burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish that
there is a genuine issue to be determined at trial.
Prudential Ins. Co. v. Hinkel, 121 F.3d 364, 366
(8th Cir. 2008). “The evidence of the non-movant is to
be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn
in his favor.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
Rudd does not contest defendants' motion for summary
judgment on many of her claims. Based on her response, only
two contested claims remain in this case: (1) claims against
Officers Baggett and Marsh for alleged violations of the
United States Constitution; and (2) claims against the City