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Thompson v. Walters

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

October 18, 2016

PATRICK D. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
HORACE WALTERS, individually and in his official capacity as Chief of Police in and for the City of Alexander, AR; CITY OF ALEXANDER, ARKANSAS, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          SUSAN WEBBER WRIGHT DISTRICT JUDGE

         Patrick D. Thompson brings this pro se action against the City of Alexander, Arkansas (the “City”), and Horace Walters, individually and in his official capacity as Chief of Police for the City, alleging race discrimination and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993 (ACRA), Ark. Code Ann. § 16-123-101 et seq. Thompson claims his employment with the Alexander Police Department (APD) was terminated because of his race-African-American-and in retaliation for him exercising his First Amendment right to free speech, i.e., his being a “witness” in a lawsuit and a memo he sent to the Mayor of the City complaining about Walters.

         The matter is before the Court on motion of defendants for summary judgment [doc.#17]. Thompson has not responded to defendants' motion and the time for doing so has passed. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         I.

         A.

         Thompson has failed to file, pursuant to Rule 56.1 of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas, a statement of the material facts as to which he contends a genuine issue exists to be tried. Thompson has thus admitted the facts as set forth by defendants in their Statement of Undisputed Facts [doc.#19] as to which they contend there is no genuine issue to be tried.[1] Accordingly, the facts as described in defendants' for summary judgment are the undisputed facts of this case. See Beavers v. Bretherick, 227 Fed.Appx. 518 (8th Cir. 2007) (per curiam) (citing Local Rule 56.1(c) in concluding that the facts as described in unopposed motion for summary judgment are the undisputed facts of the case).

         B.

         Thompson began his time with the APD as a reserve officer on May 11, 2011. Thompson was not paid while he was a reserve officer for the APD but, rather, was serving as a volunteer. On May 8, 2012, Thompson was hired as a Part-Time I officer with the APD. Walters, who is African-American, was Chief of Police for the City from June 2010 to November 20, 2013.

         During his employment with APD Thompson was disciplined twice by being placed on administrative leave. The second time he was placed on administrative leave occurred on August 8, 2012, and was for the following reasons: (1) Thompson's unauthorized traffic stop of a tractor-trailer where he did not have authority; (2) Thompson's change of work schedule without prior approval by Walters; (3) Thompson's actions involving an arrest that occurred at an address in Alexander (the “Lockard arrest”); and (4) Thompson's failure to file an incident report at the end of shift regarding the Lockard arrest. In his letter informing Thompson that he was being placed on administrative leave, Walters informed Thompson that a decision regarding his employment would be made after the completion of an investigation.

         By letter dated August 28, 2012, Walters informed Thompson that his employment with the APD was terminated. Walters's termination letter listed the following reasons for Thompson's termination: (1) Thompson pepper-sprayed a handcuffed suspect in the rear seat of his assigned patrol unit[2]; (2) Thompson consistently photographed citizens in their vehicles for traffic violations after Walters warned Thompson to cease this activity; (3) Thompson improperly and unsafely stopped a semi-tractor and trailer on I-30 outside of Thompson's jurisdiction; (4) Thompson manhandled and roughly pushed a handcuffed suspect in the Saline County Detention Center[3]; (5) Thompson failed to show up for a mandatory officers' meeting; (6) Thompson failed to report for duty and attended a classroom instruction and did not call in, thus causing a shift to be unattended for 2 hours; (7) Thompson improperly searched the door panel of a citizen's vehicle for a mere traffic stop; (8) numerous complaints from Central Communications regarding Thompson's radio mannerism; (9) numerous complaints from citizens about Thompson's brash attitude-these citizens did not want to sign a complaint form because they said they were afraid Thompson would retaliate against them; (10) Thompson disobeyed instructions from Walters not to drive his assigned police vehicle to and from his other job on Capital Avenue; and (11) Thompson drove his assigned police vehicle to Camp Robinson in North Little Rock without approval; Thompson advised Walters that while he was there, he assisted an agency with an accident activating his blue lights and other emergency accessories, which Walters states could have resulted in vicarious liabilities for the City.

         II.

         The City moves for summary judgment on the following grounds: (1) Walters was not served in his individual capacity; (2) Thompson's Title VII claims are untimely; and (3) as to Thompson's remaining 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and ACRA claims, Thompson has not established a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation, and there in any case existed legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for terminating Thompson's employment with the APD.

         A.

         Summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). To support an assertion that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed, a party must cite “to particular parts of materials in the record, ” or show “that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, ” or “that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A)-(B). “The court need consider only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). The inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citations omitted). Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000) (citation and quotation marks omitted). However, “[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for ...


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