United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Hot Springs Division
JAMES L. TONEY PLAINTIFF
CORPORAL HEATH DICKSON, Malvern Police Department “MPD”; SERGEANT KEITH PRINCE, MPD; ASSISTANT CHIEF JIM BAILEY, MPD; and CHIEF OF POLICE DONNIE TABER, MPD DEFENDANTS
P. K. HOLMES, III CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil rights action filed pro se by Plaintiff,
James L. Toney, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendants Heath Dickson, Keith Prince and Jim Bailey. (ECF
No. 55). Plaintiff filed a Response (ECF No. 60) and
Defendants filed a Reply. (ECF No. 63). The matter is ripe
is currently an inmate in the Arkansas Department of
Correction, Tucker Unit. This case arises from events that
occurred on August 23, 2017, while Defendants Dickson and
Prince were attempting to execute an arrest warrant on
Plaintiff at his home. At the time of the incident,
Defendants Dickson and Prince were officers with the City of
Malvern Police Department and Bailey was the Assistant Chief
of Police. Viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff,
the relevant facts are as follows.
August 23, 2017, Defendants Dickson and Prince arrived at
Plaintiff's residence at 9:09 p.m. to execute an arrest
warrant that came through the National Crime Information
Center (“NCIC”). Defendant Dickson knocked on
Plaintiff's door and Plaintiff opened the door. (ECF No.
57-2, p. 1). Defendant Dickson advised Plaintiff that there
was a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest and that Defendant
Dickson was going to take Plaintiff in for possession
charges. Id. Defendant Dickson then asked Plaintiff
if he had been given papers on a warrant when he was arrested
a few days earlier. Plaintiff stated he was not served papers
on a warrant. Id. Defendant Dickson asked Plaintiff
a second time if he was served papers on a warrant. Plaintiff
then told Defendant Dickson that he did have the papers in
his billfold. Id.
Dickson asked Plaintiff to show him the papers. Defendants
Dickson and Prince followed Plaintiff inside his home while
he began searching for the warrant papers. Plaintiff yelled
toward the back of his home and asked an unidentified person
if they knew where his billfold was. Defendants Dickson and
Prince followed Plaintiff throughout his living room and into
the kitchen using their flashlights to look around. (ECF No.
57-1). Defendant Prince moved toward the kitchen counter
where there appeared to be a billfold. Plaintiff told him not
to touch it because the billfold belonged to someone else.
Plaintiff then advised Defendants Dickson and Prince that his
billfold must be in his truck and he walked toward the front
Dickson and Prince followed Plaintiff outside of the home to
his vehicle and watched Plaintiff search the vehicle for the
warrant. While Plaintiff was looking in the front seat of his
vehicle for the warrant papers, Defendants Dickson and Prince
received a call concerning an assault with physical injury at
another location. Defendants asked Plaintiff to find the
warrant so that they “didn't have to take him
in.” (ECF No. 57-1). Defendants Dickson and Prince then
left Plaintiff's residence. (ECF No. 57-2). The entire
incident lasted just under three minutes. (ECF No. 57-1).
twenty (20) minutes after Defendants Dickson and Prince left
Plaintiff's home, the warrant for Plaintiff's arrest
that Defendants Dickson and Prince had relied on was cleared
rendering it inactive. (ECF No. 57-2, p. 7). After learning
that the warrant had cleared the NCIC system that evening,
Defendants Dickson and Prince returned to Plaintiff's
residence. Defendant Dickson knocked on Plaintiff's door,
but Plaintiff did not open it. Defendant Dickson advised
Plaintiff through the closed door that the warrant was
invalid, and that they would not be coming
back. Id. at p. 2.
filed his Complaint on September 25, 2017. (ECF No. 1). On
February 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint
naming Corporal Heath Dickson, Sergeant Keith Prince, and
Assistant Chief Jim Bailey as Defendants. (ECF No. 20).
Plaintiff initially asserted three claims in his Amended
Complaint: (1) violation of his Fourth Amendment Rights
during the attempted execution of an arrest warrant on August
23, 2017; (2) unlawful seizure of his property on August 30,
2017, by Defendant Dickson; and (3) “superior aware of
harassment…wrongfully Charge's victimize by
Malvern Police Department” against Defendant Jim
Bailey. Id. at pp. 4-13. On August 9, 2018,
Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed claims 2 and 3 of his Amended
Complaint leaving only the claims against Defendants Dickson,
Prince and Bailey for the alleged violation of his Fourth
Amendment rights. (ECF No. 46).
Specifically, Plaintiff claims:
…Around 9:00 p.m. …I heard Someone knocking At
my Door, I thought it was my Brother but when I opened The
Door it was officer Heath Dickson And Sgt. Prince, The Pushed
me Aside And barged into my house…Officer Dickson
Stated He Had a Warrant He and Sgt. Prince Started Searching
my Residence. I Asked To See The Warrant Officer Dickson
Stated (Shut your mouth I don't need one.) Officer
Dickson Shined his flash light Down My hallway and Sgt.
Prince Searched my Kitchen. He picked up my Brothers Wallet
from The Counter and Searched it. I Asked Him To put it Down
and To See Their warrant for the Second Time and They
Refused. I Asked Them To leave…They Refused. About
five or Ten minutes had Past They Received A Call and
Left…I Reported This Incident To officer Bailey and he
never Responded. About 10:30 p.m. officer Dickson And Sgt.
Prince Returned. They Beat on my door for about Five minutes
(ECF No. 20, p. 5). Plaintiff is suing Defendants Dickson,
Prince and Bailey in their individual and official
capacities. He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
(ECF No. 20, p. 13).
September 14, 2018, Defendants filed the instant Motion for
Summary Judgment and a Memorandum Brief in Support of the
motion, arguing that they are entitled to judgment as a
matter of law because: (1) Defendants did not violate
Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right to be free from
unreasonable search and seizure; (2) they are entitled to
qualified immunity; and (3) Plaintiff has not identified any
policy or custom of the City of Malvern which violates his
constitutional rights. (ECF No. 56). On October 12, 2018,
Plaintiff filed a Reply restating his claims against
Defendants. (ECF No. 60).