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McKinney v. Plyler

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division

July 2, 2018

ROBBIE PLYLER (Lt. CID, Clark County Sheriff's Office), BRIAN DANIEL (Sgt. CID, Clark County Sheriff's Office), Becky Ussery[1] (Domestic Violence, Clark County Courthouse) DEFENDANTS



         Plaintiff proceeds in this matter pro se and in forma pauperis pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 48).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on June 22, 2015, in the Eastern District of Arkansas. (ECF No. 2). He filed his Amended Complaint on July 13, 2015. (ECF No. 5). The case was transferred to this District on July 21, 2015. (ECF No. 7).

         In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated his constitutional rights when they arrested and charged him with Felony Domestic Battery against his wife, Amber McKinney, because he was the actual victim of the domestic battery. He also alleges Defendant Plyler denied him medical care when he arrested him. (ECF No. 5 at 4-11).

         Plaintiff alleges he was arrested by Defendant Plyler on March 19, 2015, at the Baptist Health Emergency Room when he sought treatment for a cracked rib, black eye, upper and lower “busted lips, ” large head contusion, and possible concussion. (Id. at 4-5). He alleges the Defendants did not interview him or take any photographs of his injuries, even though his injuries were much more serious than those sustained by his wife. (Id. at 5). He alleges Defendant Plyler arrested him as he was being processed by the emergency room administration, thereby denying him medical care. (Id. at 4). He alleges he was arrested for Domestic Battery in the Third Degree, but his charge was upgraded to Second Degree Domestic Battery “an hour later.” (Id.).

         Plaintiff alleges he received a “Facts Constituting Reasonable Cause” form dated March 22, 2015, from Defendant Daniel. Plaintiff alleges this form stated his wife had sustained a fractured right wrist in addition to her other injuries. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff alleges this was a “complete fabrication to ensure my illegal detainment, ” because prior photos taken by Defendant Ursery showed her using a fully functional right wrist to hold her mouth open. (Id.).

         Plaintiff further alleges his wife was known as Amber Inez Williams prior to their marriage. (Id. at 7). He alleges she had a history of violent domestic disputes, and provided a newspaper clipping of an altercation between them prior to their marriage. In the article, she was noted to be the aggressor in the domestic assault and had further promoted violence in front of a juvenile. (Id. at 7, 10). Plaintiff alleges these facts should have been discovered if Defendants had actually performed an investigation. (Id. at 7).

         Plaintiff alleges he was told on March 22, 2015, that he would be released. However, after he signed the release form for a Third Degree Domestic Battery, he was informed his release required him to be on GPS monitoring, which he could not afford, so the release papers were “trashed.” (Id. at 5). “Two hours later” he was taken before a Judge, charged with Second Degree Domestic Battery, given a $75, 000 bond and GPS monitoring at his own expense. (Id.). Plaintiff's Amended Complaint was dated July 9, 2015, and Plaintiff alleges he had been detained since March 19, 2015 with no bond reduction hearings, no pre-trial motions, and no evidence proving him guilty. (Id.).

         Plaintiff's claims against a prosecutor and judge were dismissed at pre-service screening on March 14, 2016. (ECF No. 22). Plaintiff's official capacity claims were dismissed after Defendants' Motion to Dismiss on February 9, 2017. (ECF No. 32).

         Defendants filed their Motion for Summary Judgment without supporting documents on May 18, 2018. (ECF No. 48). The complete Motion for Summary Judgment was filed on May 21, 2018. (ECF No. 49). Documents submitted with the Motion provide additional background and context to Plaintiff's Complaint.

         On March 19, 2015, the Clark County Sheriff's Office received a call at approximately 6:57 p.m. on March 19, 2015. The caller reported that a woman was “laying in the middle of [H]ighway 8, ” she was bleeding from the mouth, and an ambulance had been called. (ECF No. 50-1 at 2). When Defendant Plyler arrived at the scene, the woman was identified as Amber McKinney. She told him her husband, John McKinney, had beaten her and thrown her out of a moving vehicle due to an argument over a Facebook request she had received. (Id.; 50-2 at 1). Defendant Plyler observed that she had a large “knot/bruise” on the right side of her head, cuts on her left knee, her upper lip was “busted, ” and she thought a finger on her left hand was broken. (Id.). She was taken to the Baptist Health Medical Center - Arkadelphia by ambulance. (Id.; ECF No. 50-3 at 2). Defendant Ursery, the Victim Services Director for Clark County, Arkansas, was called to the hospital, where interviews and photos were taken. (ECF No. 50-1 at 2; 50-3 at 1). Photos of Amber McKinney showed cuts to her lips, mouth, and tongue. (ECF No. 50-4).

         While Defendant Plyler was at the hospital, Plaintiff called Amber McKinney's phone several times. (ECF No. 50-2). Defendant Plyler answered the phone and spoke with Plaintiff. Plaintiff told him he was actually the victim, as Amber McKinney had beaten him. Defendant Plyler was unable to conduct a formal interview with Plaintiff over the phone because Plaintiff was “belligerent.” (Id. at 1).

         Plaintiff then arrived at the hospital complaining of broken ribs. (ECF No. 50-1 at 2; 50-2 at 1). Defendant Plyler observed that Plaintiff was able to talk, walk, move, and function “fine.” No. apparent injuries were noted for Plaintiff. (50-1 at 3; 50-2 at 2). Based on Amber McKinney's injuries, her statements, and witness statements, Defendant Plyler arrested Plaintiff for Domestic Battery and took him to jail (ECF No. 50-1 at 3; 50-2 at 2). At the jail, EMS (Emergency Medical Services) was called to evaluate Plaintiff's condition, and he was “cleared.” (ECF No. 50-2 at 2). Once Amber McKinney was treated, Plaintiff was returned to the hospital for examination. (50-1 at 3; 50-2 at 2). Defendant Plyler was not involved with Plaintiff's criminal case after the March 19, 2015, arrest. (ECF No. 50-2 at 2).

         Medical records from Baptist Health Medical Center - Arkadelphia, indicate Plaintiff was admitted at 12:22 a.m. on March 20, 2015. (ECF No. 50-6 at 1). He presented with a complaint of a rib injury. (Id. at 3). On examination, he exhibited tenderness in the right rib cage, with no edema. He exhibited tenderness on the heel of the right hand. He had normal range of motion. Contusions[2] to his rib, nose, and hand were noted, but did not require workup. A headache and urinary tract infection were also noted, but did not require workup. (ECF No. 50-6 at 4). Plaintiff received x-rays of his head, right hand, and right ribs. No. new fractures were apparent in the right rib or elsewhere. (Id. at 5-7). Healed fractures were apparent at the second and fifth metacarpals. (Id. at 7). There was no evidence of head injury or abnormality. (Id. at 5). Plaintiff also received a CT scan of the head, due to his report of trauma and headache. The CT scan was negative for any injuries or abnormalities. (Id. at 8). Plaintiff received two tablets of acetaminophen and a prescription for antibiotics. (Id. at 10). Plaintiff's urine drug screen was positive for THC and cocaine metabolite. (Id. at 9). Plaintiff was discharged from the hospital on March 20, 2015, at 2:16 p.m. (Id. at 2).

         On March 22, 2015, Defendant Daniel spoke with Amber McKinney on the phone, and she told him that she had a fractured wrist. (ECF No. 50-7; 50-8). He obtained her medical records and determined that Plaintiff would likely be charged with Domestic Battery in the Second Degree. (ECF No. 50-8).

         Defendant Daniel completed an Affidavit of Facts Constituting Reasonable Cause (hereafter Probable Cause) against Plaintiff for Domestic Battery in the Second Degree on March 22, 2015. (ECF No. 50-10). This Affidavit noted Amber McKinney's physical injuries, including cuts in her upper lip, abrasions to the side of her head and to her right knee, and a fractured right wrist. It stated she had identified Plaintiff as her attacker. (Id. at 2). Plaintiff appeared before Clark County Circuit Judge McCallum on March 22, 2015, for his first appearance. The Court found probable cause to detain him on the charge of Domestic Battery in the Second Degree, set bond for $75, 000 and required electronic monitoring at Plaintiff's expense. (ECF No. 50-11). Arraignment was set for April 14, 2015. (Id.). The Order was signed on March 22, 2015, but not filed by the Clerk of Court until April 7, 2015. (Id.).

         Plaintiff filed two jail grievances[3] stating he was being illegally detained because he was the victim of domestic battery. (ECF Nos. 50-13). Defendant Daniel responded to one grievance, stating he had not been aware of Plaintiff's claim to be the victim, and telling Plaintiff to make an appointment through jail administration to speak with him. (Id. at 1). Plaintiff met with Defendant Daniel on April 13, 2015, for an interview. (ECF No. 50 at ¶ 35). The Court reviewed the videotape of this interview. (ECF No. 50-5). Plaintiff stated the incident started while he was driving Amber McKinney home from work because he questioned her about a Facebook request she had received from another man and she “went haywire.” Plaintiff stated he told her that if she hit him again he was going to hit her back. As a result, there was more than one physical altercation between himself and Amber McKinney in and around the vehicle that day, but he stated she was the aggressor for all of them. After one of these altercations, Amber McKinney got out of the vehicle at a stop sign and sat in the highway. Plaintiff followed her, she returned to the car, and another “scuffle” ensued. According to Plaintiff, both parties hit, bit, and spit at each other during these altercations. Amber McKinney also grabbed him by the penis and would not let go, despite the fact the he had undergone surgery for a broken urethra early in the year when she had pulled on and “broken his penis.” Plaintiff asked why he was not interviewed before being arrested and charged when there were two people involved. Plaintiff further noted past incidents where Amber McKinney had assaulted him or other women.

         Defendant Daniel interviewed Amber McKinney again on October 14, 2015. (ECF No. 50 ¶ 26). In the video of this interview, she described a pattern of beatings and violence from Plaintiff, but also referenced at least one prior arrest for herself. (ECF No. 50-9). She stated she “broke his penis” in an attempt to escape him during a prior beating. (Id.).

         On March 17, 2016, Plaintiff's charges were amended to Domestic Battery in the Third Degree. (ECF No. 50-14). An Order transferring the case to District Court was signed the same day. (ECF No. 50-15). Plaintiff was released from the Clark County Jail on March 18, 2016. (ECF No. 17). After several continuances, the case was nolle prossed on May 28, 2016, because Amber McKinney did not wish to prosecute. (ECF No. 50-16).

         On May 22, 2018, this Court entered an Order directing Plaintiff to respond to the Summary Judgment Motion by June 12, 2018. (ECF No. 52). On June 13, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion to Deem Facts Admitted, noting Plaintiff had not filed his Response as directed. (ECF No. 55). Plaintiff filed his Response on June 15, 2018. (ECF No. 56).

         II. ...

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