United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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. (Doc. 23). For the reasons set forth in the
following Opinion, the Motion is GRANTED.
filed his Complaint on October 30, 2017. He is currently
incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Corrections, Ester
Unit. Plaintiff alleges several violations of his
constitutional rights by detectives in the Benton County
Sheriff's Office ("BCSO") on March 16, 2017.
(Doc. 1, p. 4-7). He claims his Fourth Amendment rights were
violated by Defendants when they executed a traffic stop on
his vehicle without either probable cause or reasonable
suspicion to do so. Id. at 4. Plaintiff alleges the
BCSO has a custom or policy of violating Fourth Amendment
rights by conducting searches and seizures without probable
cause. Id. at 5, 6. He further alleges officers are
not adequately trained and records will show a pattern of
violations. Id. at 5.
next alleges that Defendants Pomietlo and Brooks used
excessive force against him during his arrest when Defendant
Brooks used "a couple of hammer fist to the side of
[his] head," which resulted in the "grinding of
[his] skull into the asphalt." Id. Plaintiff
alleges he was "in no way combative" and instead
asked the detectives why they were hitting him. Id.
He believes that these Defendants were trained "never to
hit someone in the head or other places that can cause death
or specific undue harm." Id. He claims he
suffered injuries, including emotional pain and distress, as
a result of certain customs and policies of BCSO.
Id. at 6.
Plaintiff contends that all Defendants violated his rights
with their malicious prosecution of him. Id.
Plaintiff points out that the prosecuting attorney dropped
all but one of the charges contained in the probable cause
affidavit, thus indicating that Defendants acted with malice
against him in by filing the charges in the first place.
Id. Plaintiff alleges it is the policy or custom of
BCSO to deprive American citizens of their constitutional
rights through illegal actions and contacts. Id. at
attached the probable cause affidavit for his state criminal
case to his Complaint, and it provides a description of
Plaintiffs stop and arrest. (Doc. 1, pp. 10-12). In March of
2017, Defendant Nguyen received information from a reliable
confidential informant that drug trafficking, mainly
methamphetamine, was taking place at the Baymont Hotel in
Bentonville. Due to this report, Defendants Pomietlo and
Brooks were patrolling the area in two cars on March 16,
2017, at approximately 2:00 a.m. They noticed a vehicle
driving slowly around the hotel and parking at the back of
the hotel with the headlights left on. As Brooks approached
the vehicle, the headlights were turned off, but the
occupants remained in the vehicle. Brooks aimed a flashlight
into the vehicle and noted two passengers. Id. at
10. He activated his emergency lights and ordered the female
driver to show her hands, as both occupants were stiff and
rigid in their seats. Then Brooks ordered the passenger of
the vehicle, the Plaintiff, to show his hands, as well.
Plaintiff only raised his right arm. Brooks reported that
this "made the hair on the back of his neck stand
up." Id. at 11.
Brooks gave loud verbal commands for the occupants of the
vehicle to raise their hands so he could see them. The female
driver complied; Plaintiff did not. Brooks turned his
attention to Plaintiff and gave "louder more aggressive
orders for him to show both of his hands." Id.
Brooks heard a loud thud, as though something heavy had been
dropped in the vehicle, and Plaintiff then jumped out of the
vehicle and attempted to flee the scene. He ignored
Brooks's orders to stop. Brooks radioed for backup. While
running, Brooks saw Plaintiff concealing something in front
of him with his hands, which Brooks believed could be a
weapon of some kind.
Pomietlo stopped Plaintiff's flight by wrapping his arms
around his waist and taking him to the ground. Defendant
Brooks then took control of Plaintiff's left wrist.
Plaintiff refused to obey orders to place his free hand
behind his back and "continued to reach for his waist
with his right hand and curl his hand under his body."
Id. Brooks then executed "a couple hammer
fists" to the side of Plaintiffs head and was able to
gain compliance. Id. Plaintiffs head began to bleed
"slightly." Id. Plaintiff was then taken
to the emergency room at Northwest Medical and medically
item Plaintiff had been concealing at his waist was a small
purse containing what was later determined to be 241.1 grams
of methamphetamine. A small pink and black handgun was
located near the driver's side of the vehicle. It was
believed that Plaintiff had dropped the weapon to the floor
of the vehicle and the female driver had thrown it out the
vehicle window. Id. at 12.
was charged with trafficking a Controlled Substance (Class Y
felony), Possession of a Controlled Substance with the
Purpose to Deliver (Class A felony), Simultaneous Possession
of Drugs and Firearms (Class Y felony), Possession of a
Firearm by Certain Persons (Class B felony), Resisting Arrest
(Class B misdemeanor), and Fleeing (Class C misdemeanor).
now proceeds against Defendants in their official and
personal capacities as to all his claims. Id. at
4-6. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as
freedom from jail and prison and a mental health evaluation.
Id. at 7.
sentencing order provided along with Defendants* Motion for
Summary Judgment indicates that Plaintiff was assigned a
public defender for the charges associated with the facts set
forth above. Plaintiff eventually pleaded guilty to
Trafficking a Controlled Substance and Possession of a
Firearm by Certain Persons on August 7, 2018. (Doc. 25-2 at
33-34). Medical records from Northwest Medical Center show
that Plaintiff was treated for a closed head injury without
loss of consciousness and head lacerations. (Doc. 25-4 at 2).
His examination and head CT were normal. (Doc. 25-4 at 6).
His patient care orders directed him to clean the wounds and
apply Neosporin. (Doc. 25-4 at 7).
was deposed by Defendants on February 28, 2018. (Doc. 25-9).
During the deposition, Plaintiff testified that Defendant
Brooks told him and the female driver to raise their hands
"[q]uite a few times" while they were in the
vehicle. Id. at 26. Plaintiff admitted that he had
raised one hand while "getting the drugs" with the
other. Id. at 25. Plaintiff soon jumped out of the
vehicle and started running from police while carrying the
methamphetamine. He was only able to run for about ten or
fifteen feet before he was tackled by an officer.
Id. at 26. After he was tackled, he "got into
the fetal position; got into a ball" while keeping his
hands on the bag at his waist. Id. at 27. The
officers told him to give them his hands. Plaintiff
understood they wanted to handcuff him, but Plaintiff did not