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Cravener v. Shuster

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 27, 2018

Terry Cravener Plaintiff- Appellee
Mike Shuster, in his individual and official capacity; Chris Calvin, in his individual and official capacity; Kieth Maggard, in his individual and official capacity Defendants - Appellants Jasper County, MO; John Does I-IV, in their individual and official capacity Defendants

          Submitted: February 16, 2018

          Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Joplin

          Before LOKEN, BENTON, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.

          BENTON, Circuit Judge.

          Terry Cravener sued Jasper County deputies Mike Shuster, Chris Calvin, and Kieth Maggard under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging excessive force. The district court denied the deputies' motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The deputies appeal. This court reverses and remands.


         Cravener has paranoid schizophrenia. In May 2013, his father called Jasper County Emergency Services. He requested help getting Cravener a medical evaluation for erratic behavior and medication issues. He said Cravener was "talking to the walls" and "not in the right state of mind." He reported Cravener had not been violent that day, but "could possibly become violent." Emergency Services dispatched deputies and EMS to the father's house.

         Deputy Shuster arrived first. The father said he wanted Cravener to get "a 48hour observation." Once inside the house, Deputy Shuster heard Cravener repeating "I love Satan." Deputy Maggard arrived next. With Deputy Shuster, he found Cravener in a bedroom. Entering the room, they told Cravener he was not in trouble and asked him to sit on the mattress, on the floor. Deputy Calvin then arrived, joining them in the bedroom. When asked, Cravener said he had not taken his schizophrenia medicine in two days. Deputy Shuster explained that his parents were worried about his behavior. Cravener responded with comments about chemical burns on his skin and "two planets that collided into the earth, causing the earth to blow up." Deputy Shuster told him that based on his behavior, they were going to take him to the hospital. Cravener responded that he did not want to go; he began making hand gestures like he was shooting himself in the head. The deputies asked him to roll onto his stomach so they could restrain him. He refused, saying he did not want to go to the hospital. Several times, he laid down, holding his arms and legs in a defensive posture, and then sat back up.

          After asking him about 20 times to roll to his stomach, Deputy Shuster took Cravener's left wrist and walked around him trying to get him to lie on his stomach. Cravener pulled his arms away, and Deputy Shuster placed him in a modified bent arm lock. Cravener continued to resist. Deputy Calvin advised Cravener he would tase him if he continued resisting.

         Deputy Shuster tried to guide Cravener to his stomach. Cravener suddenly leaned backward. His left arm broke. Deputy Shuster immediately released his hold, but continued to guide Cravener to the floor. Cravener continued resisting and yelling "just shoot me." According to Deputy Maggard, Cravener was unfazed by his broken arm and continued resisting.

         Despite repeated commands to show his hands, Cravener kept both arms under him. Deputy Shuster unsuccessfully used nunchucks on his right elbow to get him to release. Deputy Calvin again warned him to stop resisting and release his arms, or be tased. Cravener refused. Deputy Calvin employed a five-second taser cycle (in drive-stun mode[1]) to Cravener's back. When the cycle ended, Cravener resumed cursing and resisting. Four more times, Deputy Calvin warned Cravener to stop resisting or be tased. Each time he refused, resulting in another drive-stun taser cycle on his back. Deputy Maggard observed that the taser did not appear to affect Cravener, and he "kept fighting like nothing." Eventually, using nunchucks, Deputies Shuster and Maggard were able to restrain his right hand and apply a belly chain and leg shackles.

         Once secured, the deputies called EMS (waiting outside the door) to inspect his broken arm. Cravener was still resisting. EMS gave him a sedative. Once that took effect, they placed him on a body board and took him to the hospital. Cravener remembers nothing from the day of the incident.

         Cravener sued the deputies for excessive force and Jasper County for failure to train and unconstitutional policies, customs, and practices. The district court granted summary judgment to Jasper County. In two short paragraphs with little explanation, however, the district court found genuine issues of material fact precluding summary judgment for the deputies on the basis of qualified immunity. The district court failed ...

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