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Bowie v. Meyer

United States District Court, D. Maryland

February 11, 2015

RICKY DARNELL BOWIE, JR., #362329, Plaintiff,
v.
OFC. MEYER, OFC. PRIOR, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

PAUL W. GRIMM, District Judge.

I. Background

On March 27, 2013, Plaintiff Ricky Darnell Bowie filed a Fourth Amendment complaint against Frederick County Police Officers Meyer and Prior and the Frederick City Police Department pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, seeking compensatory damages and disciplinary action against the officers. Bowie claimed that he was subject to false arrest, the use of excessive force, and false imprisonment. Compl., ECF No.1.

Counsel for defendants filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, construed as a motion for summary judgment, and Plaintiff filed an opposition. ECF Nos. 15 & 17. On March 10, 2014, defendants' motion was granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff's false arrest and false imprisonment claims were dismissed without prejudice and his excessive force claim was allowed to proceed. The complaint against defendant Frederick City Police Department was dismissed and defendants Meyer and Prior were granted additional time to file a further response to the excessive force claim. ECF Nos. 18 & 19.

Defendants answered the complaint and Plaintiff was given additional time to file a motion for appointment of counsel. ECF No. 21. He did not so do. On July 2, 2014, defendants Meyers and Prior filed a motion for summary judgment, which remains unopposed.[1] ECF No. 22. The motion may be determined on the pleadings and shall be granted without oral hearing. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014).

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates through "particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations..., admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, " that "there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter oflaw." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833-34 (4th Cir. 2013). If the party seeking summary judgment demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). The existence of only a "scintilla of evidence" is not enough to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251 (1986).

The "judge's function" in reviewing a motion for summary judgment is not "to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." ld. at 249. If "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict" for the non-moving party, there is a dispute of material fact that precludes summary judgment. Id. at 248. Therefore, on those issues on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, it is his or her responsibility to confront the summary judgment motion with an affidavit or other similar evidence showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 256.

III. Discussion

Facts

The facts set out in Plaintiffs unverified complaint were summarized in this Court's March 10, 2014 Memorandum and bear repeating. Plaintiff states that on February 2, 2013, he was approached by a Frederick County police officer while riding his bicycle. He claims that later that afternoon, when he was given an automobile ride by an "old school friend, " that same police officer followed them in his patrol car and conducted an automobile stop. He complains that he was arrested without probable cause, handcuffed and subjected to a continuous assault by the two defendants, in which he was slammed to the pavement, elbowed several times, held down by the neck, and kneed to the left ribs and lower back. Plaintiff acknowledges verbally arguing with the officers, but claims that he was cuffed from behind at all times. He asserts that his legs were "tied up, " he was dragged to the back of the car, thrown into a patrol car, and taken to the Frederick County Detention Center. Plaintiff complains that his wrists were bleeding from tight handcuffs and he suffered scratches and bruises from the incident. Compl.

Defendants previously affirmed that on the date in question Plaintiff was charged with resisting arrest, second-degree assault of a police officer, and possession of a controlled dangerous substance (marijuana). Defs.' Mem. in Support oflst Mot. Exs. A-I & A-2, ECFNos. 15-3 & 15-4. There is no dispute that Plaintiff pled guilty to resisting arrest and the remaining counts were nolle prossed. Id. Ex. A-I.

Legal Analysis

In their original dispositive motion defendants relied on Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) to dismiss Plaintiff's excessive force claim. I noted that the "Heck analysis requires close factual examination of the underlying conviction" and there was insufficient information in the record to determine whether Plaintiff's "claim of excessive force necessarily would ...


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