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Jones v. Jordan

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 13, 2019

ERIC JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSHUA JORDAN, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          George L. Russell, III United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendants Joshua Jordan (“Ofc. Jordan”) and Russell J. Tonks's (“Ofc. Tonks”) (collectively, “Officer Defendants”) Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 94) and Plaintiff Eric Jones's Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (“Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment”) (ECF No. 104). The Motions are ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2018). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will deny both Motions.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         On August 17, 2014, the Baltimore Police Department (“BPD”) received two 911 calls regarding drug trafficking on Paton Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland. (Defs.' Mot. Ex. A [“911 Calls”] at Aud. 389920-21, ECF No. 94-3). One of the callers reported that approximately forty individuals were engaged in drug transactions near the intersection of Paton and Denmore Avenues. (Id. at Aud. 389920). Both callers identified a man dressed in all black, wearing a black hat, as the dealer. (Id. at Aud. 389920-21). At 3:17 p.m., responding to a dispatch, Officer Defendants arrived at the scene. (Defs.' Mot. Ex. F [“Radio”] at Aud. 389925, ECF No. 94-8).

         Upon arrival, Ofc. Tonks confirmed via BPD radio transmission (“radioed”) that there were thirty to forty people on the 5200 block of Denmore Avenue, near Paton Avenue. (Id.; Jordan Dep. at 197:1-3, Apr. 23, 2018, ECF No. 104-7).[2] Ofc. Jordan appeared to identify the dealer, radioing, “Curbie, he's running right now.” (Radio at Aud. 389925; Jordan Dep. 198:15-20, ECF No. 104-7). Ofc. Tonks responded, “Which way is he running?” (Radio at Aud. 389925). Ofc. Jordan radioed that the suspect, dressed in all black, with a slim build, had disappeared up an alley and that he “can't find him.” (Radio at Aud. 389926; Jordan Dep. 202:1-7, ECF No. 104-7). One of the Officer Defendants then radioed that he was going towards “Wilton Heights, ”[3] presumably to search for the fleeing suspect. (Radio at Aud. 389926). That Officer Defendant then radioed, confirming his own location as “Florence [Avenue], ” which is at least two blocks away from the dispatch site. (Id.). A few seconds later, Ofc. Tonks asked Ofc. Jordan, “Still got eyes on him?” (Radio at Aud. 389927; Jordan Dep. 203:3-8, ECF No. 104-7). Ofc. Jordan stated he was still looking for him. (Radio at Aud. 389927). At 3:18:40 p.m., Ofc. Jordan reported that he was “going up Elmer [Avenue].” (Radio at Aud. 389928; Jordan Dep. 207:4-8, ECF No. 104-7). Elmer Avenue is at least two blocks away from the dispatch site and does not intersect with Paton Avenue.

         Much of what happened next is hotly disputed. What is not disputed is that, at some point, Officer Defendants stopped Jones and another unidentified individual near the corner of Denmore and Hayward Avenues.[4] (Jordan Dep. 48:3-10, ECF No. 104-7; Jones Dep. 185:8-12, Sept. 13, 2018. ECF No. 94-5). At that time, Jones was fifty-two years old, was working part-time as a plumber, and had spent “maybe a couple days” at an apartment complex several blocks southeast of the corner of Denmore and Hayward Avenues, though his permanent address was in a different neighborhood of North Baltimore. (Pl.'s Mot. Ex. O [“Criminal Case Docket”], ECF No. 104-18; Jones Dep. 156:1-12, 163:1-164:11). All parties agree that Jones was not free to leave, though it is disputed whether Officer Defendants ordered Jones to sit on the curb or to lie face-down on the ground. (Compare Jordan Dep. 51:5-14, ECF No. 104-7, with Jones Aff. ¶¶ 12-13, ECF No. 104-5, and Jones Dep. 223:5-11, ECF No. 104-6). It is undisputed that Jones tried to leave at some point thereafter. Officer Defendants allege they asked Jones if he had anything illegal on his person, at which point he left without answering. (Jordan Dep. 75:2-6, Apr. 23, 2018, ECF No. 94-10; Tonks Dep. 79:6-80:2, Apr. 17, 2018, ECF No. 94-9).[5] Jones states Officer Defendants “started asking about my identification and were rude to me” but “[a]s I did nothing wrong, I got up and started walking away.” (Jones Aff. ¶ 14). Officer Defendants argue Jones ran away; Jones denies running. (Jordan Dep. 75:5-6, 17-18, ECF No. 94-10; Jones Aff. ¶¶ 14-19). It is undisputed that Ofc. Jordan tackled Jones to the ground shortly thereafter. (Jordan Dep. 75:9-13, ECF No. 94-10; Tonks Dep. at 50:15-19, ECF No. 94-9; Jones Aff. ¶ 16).

         Officer Defendants' radio calls punctuate these disputed events and provide a rough timeline of what occurred. At 3:20:22 p.m., Ofc. Jordan radioed, “He's on the run.” (Radio at Aud. 389929; Jordan Dep. 208:15, ECF No. 104-7). One of the Officer Defendants radioed, “Heading down to Florence [Avenue].” (Radio at Aud. 389929). Ofc. Tonks then radioed, “We got him.” (Radio at Aud. 389929; Jordan Dep. 208:16-17, ECF No. 104-7). Officer Defendants at that point reported their location as the 5200 block of Florence Avenue. (Radio at Aud. 389929).

         At 3:25:20 p.m., one of the Officer Defendants reported a “1014”[6] at Hayward and Florence. (Radio at Aud. 389930). At 3:34:49 p.m., Officer Defendants called in a “1038”[7]for an approximately fifty-year-old male with facial abrasions, presumably Jones. (Radio at Aud. 389931). Officer Defendants then transported Jones to Sinai Hospital. (Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. Ex. M [“Hospital Records”], ECF No. 104-15; Radio at Aud. 389933; Jordan Dep. 246:7-8, ECF No. 104-7). Jones suffered bilateral subdural hematomas, traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage along the left cerebral convexity, and small right anterior frontal lobe hemorrhagic contusions. (Hospital Records at 3, 5). As a result of these injuries, Jones underwent brain surgery. (Id. at 5).

         Jones's Hospital Records indicate that he tested positive for cocaine use. (Hospital Records at 8). Bags of suspected cocaine and marijuana were found in Jones's sock, (Defs.' Mot. Ex. E [“Incident Report”] at 3, ECF No. 94-7), though Jones asserts that no chemical analyses were performed to verify the identity of the substances. (Jones Aff. ¶ 33). After being discharged, Jones was charged with: (1) Controlled Dangerous Substance (“CDS”) possession of marijuana; (2) CDS possession of marijuana L/T 10 G; (3) second degree assault; (4) resisting arrest; (5) CDS possession of paraphernalia; (6) CDS possession with intent to distribute; and (7) CDS possession, not marijuana. (Criminal Case Docket). Jones was acquitted of all counts except for CDS possession with intent to distribute, for which the prosecutor entered a nolle prosequi. (Id.).

         On July 22, 2016, Jones sued Officer Defendants, as well as BPD and former BPD Police Chief Anthony W. Batts (collectively, the “BPD Defendants”) and Unknown Individual Officers and Unknown Supervisors of the BPD. (ECF No. 1). On October 25, 2016, Jones filed an Amended Complaint, alleging: a violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution for unlawful search and seizure brought under § 1983 (Count I); two supervisory liability claims for violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments brought under § 1983 (Counts II and III); a violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments for fabrication of evidence brought under § 1983 (Count IV); violation of Articles 24 and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights (Count V); malicious prosecution (Count VI); assault and battery (Count VII); false imprisonment (Count VIII); and false arrest (Count IX). (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 95-149). Jones seeks monetary damages. (Id. at 38).

         On December 4, 2017, the Court bifurcated the claims against Officer Defendants from the claims brought against BPD Defendants, essentially staying the case with respect to BPD Defendants until after the resolution of Jones's claims against Officer Defendants. (Dec. 4, 2017 Order, ECF No. 42).

         On December 14, 2018, Officer Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 94). Jones filed an Opposition and Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on January 11, 2019. (ECF No. 104). On January 31, 2019, Officer Defendants filed an Opposition and Reply. (ECF No. 111). On February 13, 2019, Jones filed a Reply. (ECF No. 112).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the facts in a light most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing all justifiable inferences in that party's favor. Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). Summary judgment is proper when the movant 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 of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A). Significantly, a party must be able to present the materials it cites in “a form that would be admissible in evidence, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2), and supporting affidavits and declarations “must be made on personal knowledge” and “set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4).

         Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to identify evidence showing there is genuine dispute of material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). The nonmovant cannot create a genuine dispute of material fact “through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another.” Othentec Ltd. v. Phelan, 526 F.3d 135, 141 (4th Cir. 2008) (quoting Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985)).

         A “material fact” is one that might affect the outcome of a party's case. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; see also JKC Holding Co. v. Wash. Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing Hooven-Lewis v. Caldera, 249 F.3d 259, 265 (4th Cir. 2001)). Whether a fact is considered to be “material” is determined by the substantive law, and “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord Hooven-Lewis, 249 F.3d at 265. A “genuine” dispute concerning a “material” fact arises when the evidence is sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If the nonmovant has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case where she has the burden of proof, “there can be ‘no genuine [dispute] as to any material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

         When the parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment, the court must “review each motion separately on its own merits to ‘determine whether either of the parties deserves judgment as a matter of law.'” Rossignol v. Voorhaar, 316 F.3d 516, 523 (4th Cir. 2003) (quoting Philip Morris Inc. v. Harshbarger, 122 F.3d 58, 62 n.4 (1st Cir. 1997)). Moreover, “[w]hen considering each individual motion, the court must take care to ‘resolve all factual disputes and any competing, rational inferences in the light most favorable' to the party opposing that motion.” Id. (quoting Wightman v. Springfield Terminal Ry. Co., 100 F.3d 228, 230 (1st Cir. 1996)). This Court, however, must also abide by its affirmative obligation to prevent factually unsupported claims and defenses from going to trial. Drewitt v. Pratt, 999 F.2d 774, 778-79 (4th Cir. 1993). If the evidence presented by the nonmovant is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment must be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50.

         B. ...


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