United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
Shaun Mouzon (“plaintiff” or
“Mouzon”) has filed this action alleging that
defendant police officers Charles Mewshaw, Torran Burrus,
Fabien Laronde, Chris Szakolczai, and Kevin Saliba
(collectively, “defendants”) violated 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and committed several state-law torts on the
evening of January 28, 2013. (ECF No. 47.) On that evening,
the officers stopped Mouzon's vehicle for an alleged
traffic offense, which led to a confrontation which resulted
in Mouzon being shot numerous times.
pending before this Court is defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment (“Defendants' Motion”) (ECF
No. 40). This Court conducted a hearing on the pending Motion
on July 17, 2017. (ECF No. 63.) For the reasons stated
below, Defendants' Motion (ECF No. 40) is GRANTED IN PART
and DENIED IN PART. Specifically, it is GRANTED as to
plaintiff's false arrest and false imprisonment claims
(Counts II and III). The Motion is also GRANTED as to
plaintiff's claims regarding the legality of the initial
stop and defendants Burrus and Laronde's “bystander
liability” under § 1983 (Count VII).
Defendants' Motion is DENIED as to plaintiff's
battery claims (Count I) and plaintiff's excessive force
claims under § 1983 (Count VII), which are asserted
against all five defendant officers. The Motion is also
DENIED as to Mouzon's malicious prosecution claim against
defendant Laronde only (Count X).
ruling on a Motion for Summary Judgment, this Court must view
all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. Lee v. Town of Seaboard, ---F.3d---, 2017 WL
2989483, at *1 (4th Cir. July 14, 2017). See Jacobs v.
N.C. Admin. Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 568-69
(4th Cir. 2015).
alleges that defendants violated his civil rights and
committed state-law torts by using excessive force against
him during an unlawful traffic stop on the evening of January
28, 2013. (ECF No. 47 at ¶¶ 12-25.) That night,
plaintiff was driving his car in West Baltimore when
defendants Mewshaw, Laronde, and Burrus, driving in a patrol
car, observed Mouzon's vehicle commit several traffic
violations. In particular, the officers saw Mouzon turn right
onto Edmondson Avenue from Dennison Street without stopping
at the stop sign on Dennison. (ECF No. 40-7.) Mouzon's
vehicle then stopped behind other cars on Edmondson Avenue
awaiting a red light at the intersection of Hilton Street.
(Id.) The officers followed Mouzon's vehicle
onto Edmondson Avenue and stopped their vehicle directly
behind Mouzon's. (Id.) The unmarked patrol
car's emergency lights were illuminated, and the officers
quickly exited their vehicle with their guns drawn.
(Id.) Defendants Szakolczai and Saliba arrived on
the scene in a separate vehicle, drew their weapons, and
approached Mouzon's vehicle. (Id.)
a brief exchange, some of the defendant officers, apparently
fearing that Mouzon would either shoot or otherwise injure
them, fired their weapons at Mouzon, striking him numerous
times. See, e.g., ECF No. 40-3 at 6-7. Plaintiff
nevertheless navigated his vehicle through the intersection,
but ultimately lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a
curb. (ECF No. 57-8 at 5.) Plaintiff was found to be unarmed
when the police approached his vehicle after firing at him.
(Id. at 9.) Plaintiff was taken to the University of
Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he underwent extensive
treatment to recover from the gunshot wounds. (Id.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court
“shall grant summary judgment if the movant 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(c). A material fact is one that “might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law.” Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718
F.3d 308, 313 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). A
genuine issue over a material fact exists “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson,
477 U.S. at 248. When considering a motion for summary
judgment, a judge's function is limited to determining
whether sufficient evidence exists on a claimed factual
dispute to warrant submission of the matter to a jury for
resolution at trial. Id. at 249.
undertaking this inquiry, this Court must consider the facts
and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party. Libertarian Party of Va., 718
F.3d at 312; see also Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
378 (2007). This Court “must not weigh evidence or make
credibility determinations.” Foster v. University
of Md.-Eastern Shore, 787 F.3d 243, 248 (4th Cir. 2015)
(citing Mercantile Peninsula Bank v. French, 499
F.3d 345, 352 (4th Cir. 2007)); see also Jacobs, 780
F.3d at 569 (explaining that the trial court may not make
credibility determinations at the summary judgment stage).
Indeed, it is the function of the fact-finder to resolve
factual disputes, including issues of witness credibility.
See Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 1866-68 (2014).
Memorandum Opinion addresses only those counts of
plaintiff's Amended Complaint (ECF No. 47) which remain
pending following the July 17, 2017 Hearing.
Count I - Battery
raise two arguments in support of their Motion for Summary
Judgment on plaintiff's battery claims. First, defendants
Burrus and Laronde argue that because they never shot or
otherwise touched plaintiff, they did not commit a battery as
a matter of law. (ECF No. 40-1 at 21.) Second, defendants
Mewshaw, Saliba, and Szakolczai assert that their shooting of
Mouzon was legally justified based on their reasonable fear
of imminent harm- whether by a weapon or by his vehicle-by
Mouzon. (Id. at 20.)
respect to defendants Burrus and Laronde, plaintiff argued
during the July 17 Hearing that there exists a genuine issue
of material fact as to whether these officers fired their
weapons at him. Specifically, Mouzon relies on his own
deposition testimony, during which he stated that both
Laronde and Burrus shot at him. (ECF No. 64 at 32-38.) As to
defendants' second argument-that they acted in
self-defense-Mouzon argues that there exist genuine issues of
material fact as to the reasonableness of the officers'
fear of imminent harm. (ECF No. 46-1 at 20-21.)
Maryland law, “[a] battery is a harmful or offensive
contact with a person resulting from an act intended to cause
the person such contact.” Northfield Ins. Co. v.
Boxley, 215 F.Supp.2d 656, 661-62 (D. Md. 2002) (citing
Saba v. Darling, 320 Md. 45, 575 A.2d 1240, 1242
(1990)). “A touching is harmful if it causes physical
pain, injury, or illness, and it is offensive if it offends a
person's reasonable sense of dignity.” Id. See
Robinson v. Cutchin, 140 F.Supp.2d 488 (D. Md. 2001).
the evidence presented “‘in the light most
favorable to the' nonmoving party, ” as this Court
must, there exist genuine issues of material fact regarding
(1) whether Laronde and Burrus fired at Mouzon and (2)
whether all of the shooting officers' use of force was
legally justified or done in self-defense. Jacobs,
780 F.3d at 568-69 (quoting Tolan, 134 S.Ct. at
1865). Although the Baltimore Police Department's
(“BPD”) investigation concluded that only
Officers Mewshaw, Saliba, and Szakolczai fired their weapons
on the night in question, Mouzon specifically identifies
Burrus and Laronde as shooters in his sworn deposition
testimony. (ECF Nos. 57-8, 57-9; ECF No. 64 at 32-38.) While
the BPD reports and Mouzon's admittedly limited ability
to view and identify the shooters may undermine his testimony
at trial, “[s]ummary judgment cannot be granted merely
because the court believes that the movant will prevail if
the action is tried on the merits.” Jacobs,
780 F.3d at 569 (quoting 10A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur
R. Miller, et al., Federal Practice &
Procedure § 2728 (3d ed. 1998)). Accordingly,
Defendants' Motion must be DENIED as to plaintiff's
battery claim (Count I), as to all five defendant officers.
Counts II and III - False Arrest and False
argue that because their initial stop of Mouzon was legally
justified based on Mouzon's violation of traffic laws in
the officers' presence, plaintiff is unable to prove his
false arrest and false imprisonment claims as a matter of
law. (ECF No. 40-1 at 10.)
argues in opposition that his alleged violation of traffic
laws does not justify the officers' seizure of him. (ECF
No. 46-1 at 23.) At the July 17 Hearing, plaintiff's
counsel cited portions of Maryland's Transportation Code
for the proposition that the violation of traffic laws