United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Jonesboro Division
Marshall Jr., United States District Judge.
This case is about a post-arrest scuffle at the Blytheville
evening in July 2016, Blytheville Officer John Caruthers and
Lieutenant Johnathon Frazier stopped John Pugh for driving in
the middle of Carolyn Avenue. Pugh cooperated, allowing his
car to be searched, but he failed his field sobriety tests.
The officers arrested him for driving left of center,
refusing a blood alcohol test, and driving while intoxicated.
jail, Pugh called his mother to bail him out. Pugh and
Officer Caruthers had exchanged words about Pugh's arrest
before the call. No. 21-4. The video from Officer
Caruthers's body camera shows Pugh telling the officer to
"not argue" with him over whether he refused to
blow. And Pugh told his mother during the call, with both
Caruthers and Frazier in the room, that the officers had
"railroaded" him. Ibid. He was agitated.
the call, Pugh tried to put the handset back on its receiver,
missed, and the handset fell on the ground. No. 21-3 at 3-4.
Lieutenant Frazier told him several times to pick it up; and
Pugh refused. These exchanges were salted with profanity from
escalated. Pugh, who wasn't handcuffed, picked up his
cell phone from a table in the hallway. Lieutenant Frazier
grabbed his left arm. Pugh pulled it away in pain because he
had a cyst on that arm. Officer Caruthers grabbed Pugh's
right arm, and the officers took him to the floor. They tried
to pull Pugh's arms out from under him to handcuff him,
but he resisted. The Officers yelled at Pugh to submit.
Officer Caruthers struck Pugh in the side with his knee
trying to get to his arms. This knee strike caused a severe
and painful bruise. No. 33 at 2. Officer Caruthers eventually
grabbed Pugh's right thumb to pull his arm out from under
him. He heard and felt Pugh's thumb pop and Pugh yelled
"you broke my thumb." Pugh's thumb wasn't
broken, but it became badly swollen. No. 33 at 3-4. The
officers handcuffed Pugh. Eventually he was taken to the
Mississippi County Sheriffs office. Pugh later paid his fine
for driving left of center, while his other two charges were
dismissed. These are the material facts, viewed in Pugh's
favor where genuinely disputed. Rau v. Roberts, 640
F.3d 324, 327 (8th Cir. 2011).
has pleaded several claims against Lieutenant Frazier, Police
Chief Ross Thompson, and the City of Blytheville. Officer
Caruthers is not a defendant. No 28. Pugh sued him
in the first version of this case, which the Court dismissed
without prejudice at Pugh's request. In his second
complaint, Pugh didn't name Officer Caruthers. In
response to the current motion for summary judgment, Pugh
moved to amend and bring Officer Caruthers back in. The Court
denied the request for a belated amendment: it came four
months after the Final Scheduling Order's deadline for
proposed amendments, No. 7 at 1; Officer Caruthers's
large role in the scuffle had been known for several years,
No. 27; and Pugh offered no explanation for the delay.
summary judgment papers, Pugh has abandoned many claims. A
handful remain: excessive force by Lieutenant Frazier;
failure to train and supervise by Chief Thompson; municipal
liability against Blytheville; and state-law claims for
assault and battery.
says the takedown at the police department was excessive and
violated the Constitution. Objective reasonableness is the
governing Fourth Amendment standard. Graham v.
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989); Wilson v.
Spain, 209 F.3d 713, 715-16 (8th Cir. 2000). Officer
Caruthers, not Lieutenant Frazier, pulled back Pugh's
thumb and struck him in the side with his knee. No. 30 at 6.
Caruthers, though, isn't in the case. And the force that
Lieutenant Frazier used - grabbing Pugh's arm after he
refused to pick up the phone's handset-was reasonable.
Pugh's cyst wasn't apparent, but his pulling away
was. A reasonable officer would have seen that reaction as
resistance, which Frazier did. Crumley v. City of St.
Paul, Minnesota, 324 F.3d 1003, 1008 (8th Cir. 2003).
Taking Pugh to the floor was not unreasonable in the
summary judgment response, Pugh also argues that Frazier
violated his clearly established rights by not intervening to
protect him from Officer Caruthers's force. No. 29 at
15-16. But that claim isn't pleaded in Pugh's
complaint, No. 2; it would thus be unfair to consider this
new claim on summary judgment, and the Court declines to do
so. WireCo WorldGroup, Inc. v. Liberty Mutual Fire
Insurance Company, 897 F.3d 987, 992-93 (8th Cir. 2018).
Pugh's only pleaded claim against Lieutenant Frazier
Pugh's failure-to-train and failure-to-supervise claims
against Chief Thompson fail, too. To get to a jury, he must
show that Chief Thompson "had notice that the training
procedures and supervision were inadequate and likely to
result in a constitutional violation." Andrews v.
Fowler, 98 F.3d 1069, 1078 (8th Cir. 1996). But Pugh
hasn't pointed to any prior complaints about similar
conduct by these or other officers.
is municipal liability. Even if a constitutional violation
occurred, Pugh hasn't shown that a Blytheville policy or
custom caused it. Contrary to Pugh's argument, the
City's policy isn't inconsistent with the law. The
policy requires that officers "only use reasonable
force" that other well-trained officers would use in the
circumstances. No. 21-6 at 1-2. The policy also gives Bly
theville officers options on how much force to use based on
the subject's actions. No. 21-6 at 3. A policy that
doesn't "affirmatively sanction"
unconstitutional actions isn't unconstitutional.
Szabla v. City of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, 486 F.3d
385, 390-91 (8th Cir. 2007) (en banc). And
there's no proof of other instances that would amount to
a custom or practice of unconstitutional force by
Blytheville. Atkinson v. City of Mountain View,
Missouri, 709 F.3d 1201, 1216 (8th Cir. 2013).
Pugh's claims against the City therefore fail.
motion for summary judgment, No. 19, is granted as modified.
Pugh's abandoned federal claims will be dismissed without
prejudice. Satcher v. University of Arkansas at Pine
Bluff Board of Trustees,558 F.3d 731, 734-35 (8th Cir.
2009). His remaining federal claims will be dismissed with
prejudice. The Court declines to exercise jurisdiction over
his state-law claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3);
Anderson v. Franklin County, Missouri, 192 F.3d
1125, 1131 (8th Cir. 1999). They are dismissed ...