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Hawkins v. Dean

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

May 14, 2019

OFFICER DEAN, Hempstead County, Arkansas[1] DEFENDANT



         Before the Court is Defendant Officer Justin Dean's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 42). Plaintiff has not responded and her time to do so has passed.[2] The Court finds this matter ripe for consideration.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In January 2017, Defendant Dean was employed as a police officer for the City of Hope, Arkansas. (ECF No. 48). On January 11, 2017, Defendant arrived at 1601 West 6th Street in Hope, Arkansas, responding to a police dispatcher reporting a disturbance at that address. (Id.). Upon arrival, Defendant made contact with Demarquion Sasser. (Id.). Sasser told Defendant that he and his mother-Plaintiff-got into a verbal argument while inside the residence. (Id.). Sasser also reported that Plaintiff attempted to attack his girlfriend, at which time Sasser stood between them. (Id.). According to Sasser, Plaintiff grabbed him by the neck and choked him for a couple of seconds before releasing him. (Id.). Sasser and his girlfriend were then able to get outside the residence and call the police. (Id.).

         Defendant attempted to make contact with Plaintiff “but she would only scream and yell” at him. (Id.). Plaintiff refused to answer any questions and closed the door, thereby locking Defendant out of the residence. (Id.). Defendant requested a criminal information check on Plaintiff from the police dispatcher, who reported that Plaintiff was on parole. (Id.). Defendant then contacted Reyn Brown (“Brown”), a parole officer, who came to the scene and was able to gain access to the residence. (Id.). Brown attempted to place Plaintiff under arrest for a parole violation, but Plaintiff failed to submit to arrest. (Id.). Brown called Defendant into the residence for assistance. (Id.). The officers then arrested Plaintiff. (Id.). “The reason stated for the arrest was that . . . Plaintiff had purposely created apprehension of immediate physical injury to a family or household member, which is third degree assault on a family or household member under Arkansas law.” (Id.).

         Plaintiff filed her pro se Complaint on January 5, 2018, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on February 1, 2018. (ECF No. 4). Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) was granted on February 2, 2018. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff sues Defendant in his individual and official capacities. Plaintiff alleges, in relevant part, that Defendant unlawfully entered her home and arrested her without probable cause. Plaintiff asserts that her Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment constitutional rights were violated by Defendant's actions. Plaintiff, likewise, asserts that Defendant was negligent because he should have called the Department of Human Services for the protection of her minor children when she was arrested. Plaintiff seeks $500, 000.00 in compensatory damages, $500, 000.00 in punitive damages, and $500, 000.00 in damages for mental anguish. (ECF No. 4).

         In the instant motion, Defendant asserts that he is entitled to summary judgment. First, he argues that he had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff and, accordingly, there was no Fourth Amendment violation. Defendant next argues that, alternatively, he is entitled to qualified immunity with respect to Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claim. Likewise, Defendant argues that he is entitled to summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim for excessive bail because there is no evidence that he had any role in the setting of Plaintiff's bail. Finally, Defendant argues that Plaintiff has set forth no evidence of an unconstitutional policy, practice, or custom of the City of Hope, Arkansas, to support her official capacity claims and that, therefore, summary judgment is warranted on those claims.


         Summary judgment is appropriate if, after viewing the facts and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the record “shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “Once a party moving for summary judgment has made a sufficient showing, the burden rests with the non-moving party to set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists.” Nat'l Bank of Comm. v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602, 607 (8th Cir. 1999).

         The nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586. “They must show there is sufficient evidence to support a jury verdict in their favor.” Nat'l Bank, 165 F.3d at 607 (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). “A case founded on speculation or suspicion is insufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment.” Id. (citing Metge v. Baehler, 762 F.2d 621, 625 (8th Cir. 1985)). “When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007).


         Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a federal cause of action for the deprivation, under color of law, of a citizen's “rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws” of the United States. In order to state a claim under section 1983, a plaintiff must allege that each defendant acted under color of state law and that he or she violated a right secured by the constitution. West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Dunham v. Wadley, 195 F.3d 1007, 1009 (8th Cir. 1999). The deprivation must be intentional-mere negligence will not suffice to state a claim for deprivation of a constitutional right under section 1983. See Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330 (1986).

         A. Fourth Amendment Claim

         As set forth above, Plaintiff claims that Defendant unlawfully entered her home and arrested her in ...

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