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Griggs v. City of Fort Wayne

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

September 21, 2017

DAVID GRIGGS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF FORT WAYNE, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Susan Collins United States Magistrate Judge

         Griggs filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit against Defendants the City of Fort Wayne (“the City”) and Fort Wayne Police Officers John Greenlee and John Chavez (together, “the Officers”) on March 18, 2015, after an encounter with the Officers on June 8, 2013, that resulted in Griggs's arrest for disorderly conduct and public intoxication.[1] Griggs advances claims against the Officers for false imprisonment and false arrest in violation of his right under the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable seizure; retaliation in violation of the First Amendment;[2] failure to intervene to prevent a civil rights violation; and false imprisonment and false arrest in violation of Indiana state law. Griggs also contends that the City is liable under a theory of respondeat superior for the alleged false imprisonment and false arrest committed by the Officers in violation of state law.

         Now before the Court is Griggs's timely-filed motion for partial summary judgment, [3]together with a supporting brief and exhibits, seeking summary judgment in his favor as to Defendants' liability on all claims. (DE 36; DE 37). Defendants filed a response brief in opposition (DE 38), and Griggs filed a reply brief in support of his motion (DE 39). The matter is now ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, Griggs's motion for partial summary judgment will be DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND[4]

         A. Statement of Material Facts

         This matter arises out of an encounter between Griggs and the Officers that took place at about 2:00 a.m. on June 8, 2013, in the downtown area of Fort Wayne, Indiana. (DE 38-1 ¶¶ 4-5; DE 38-2 ¶¶ 4-5; DE 35-6 at 4, 6; DE 35-2 at 3). Griggs had just left the beer tent at Fort Wayne's annual Germanfest with his then wife Judy; their adult son, David Nelson Griggs (“Nelson”); Griggs's friend, Tim Bacon; and a few others. (DE 35-6 at 6). Germanfest had just ended for the evening, so there was a crowd of other pedestrians leaving the area as well.[5] (DE 35-3).

         The Officers were on duty with the Fort Wayne Police Department (“FWPD”) at the time of the encounter. (DE 38-1 ¶ 4; DE 38-2 ¶ 4). Greenlee is a FWPD patrol officer and has been employed as an officer for 19 years. (DE 38-1 ¶ 2). Chavez was a FWPD reserve lieutenant at the time, and has been employed as an officer for 13 years. (DE 38-2 ¶ 2). Based on their experience, the Officers knew that it was not uncommon for an individual to be impaired when leaving Germanfest. (DE 38-1 ¶ 6; DE 38-2 ¶ 6).

         The Officers were in full police uniform and in a marked squad car, which Greenlee was driving; the windows were down in the squad car. (DE 38-1 ¶ 4; DE 38-2 ¶ 4; DE 35-3). They were driving westbound (either on Duck Street or in a parking lot) towards the Allen County Jail, intent on pulling out onto southbound Clinton Street. (DE 38-1 ¶ 5; DE 38-2 ¶ 5; DE 35-3; DE 35-4). Before doing so, the Officers had to stop and wait for the pedestrian traffic, which was heavy due to Germanfest having just ended. (DE 38-1 ¶ 6; DE 38-2 ¶ 6). Many of the pedestrians stopped, creating a 12-foot gap in traffic, and Greenlee let the squad car idle through the gap, which crossed the sidewalk. (DE 38-1 ¶ 7; DE 38-2 ¶ 7; DE 35-3; DE 35-6 at 6-7). In doing so, the Officers were “yelling out at some pedestrians.” (DE 35-6 at 6-7).

         As the squad car was progressing through the gap in the crowd, Chavez heard and saw Bacon (who was walking with Griggs) shout “fucking cops” while looking at Chavez. (DE 38-2 ¶ 7; DE 35-4). Greenlee just heard a male voice on Chavez's side of the car shout “fucking cops”; at some point later, Greenlee concluded that it was Griggs who had shouted. (DE 38-1 ¶ 8; DE 35-3). In any event, Greenlee stopped the car, and both Officers exited the vehicle, intent on speaking with the man who had shouted. (DE 38-1 ¶ 9; DE 38-2 ¶ 8; DE 35-3; DE 35-4). The Officers approached Griggs and Bacon, stating something to the effect of, “What did you call us?” (DE 35-6 at 7). Griggs, perceiving the Officers' conduct as “aggressive, ” began shouting to the crowd to film the interaction between him and the Officers, yelling “film this guys” and “I'm going to film this.” (DE 38-1 ¶ 10; DE 38-2 ¶ 9; DE 35-3; DE 35-4; DE 35-6 at 8). Chavez began speaking with Griggs and Bacon; Bacon was very calm, but Griggs continued to shout and be unruly. (DE 35-3; DE 35-4; DE 38-1 ¶¶ 11, 13; DE 38-2 ¶¶ 10, 12). The Officers observed that Griggs had red, watery eyes and that he smelled of alcohol. (DE 38-1 ¶ 12; DE 38-2 ¶ 11; DE 35-4).

         Greenlee asked Griggs and Bacon for their identification. (DE 38-1 ¶ 14; DE 38-2 ¶ 14). Bacon produced his without a fuss, but Griggs refused to produce his. (DE 35-11 at 1). Greenlee asked Griggs a second time to produce his identification, but again Griggs did not comply. (DE 35-11 at 1). Instead, Griggs pulled out his cellphone and started recording the Officers, shouting to his son, Nelson, to do the same. (DE 35-4; DE 35-6 at 7; DE 35-11 at 1). Finally, on Greenlee's third request, Griggs produced his identification. (DE 38-1 ¶ 14; DE 38-2 ¶ 14; DE 35-3; DE 35-4).

         Greenlee took the identification back to the squad car to copy down the men's information, and Chavez waited with Griggs and Bacon. (DE 38-1 ¶ 15; DE 38-2 ¶ 15). During this time, Griggs continued to rant and shout, becoming increasingly agitated. (DE 38-1 ¶ 15; DE 38-2 ¶ 16). The Officers told Griggs several times to calm down and lower his voice, but he did not comply. (DE 38-1 ¶ 19; DE 38-2 ¶¶ 17-18; DE 35-4; DE 35-11 at 1). The majority of his shouts were directed at the crowd of approximately 40 to 45 people that had stopped to watch the incident. (DE 38-1 ¶ 15). The crowd that had gathered to watch the encounter slowed the flow of pedestrian traffic leaving Germanfest. (DE 38-1 ¶ 16).

         When Greenlee returned the identifications to Griggs and Bacon, Greenlee reminded the two men that there were better ways to conduct themselves in public. (DE 38-1 ¶ 17). Bacon agreed, but Griggs did not. (DE 38-1 ¶ 17). Griggs proclaimed that he did not have to be quiet; he then called Greenlee a “fucking asshole” and stated that “[he was] tired of this mother fucker.” (DE 35-4; DE 38-2 ¶ 18; DE 38-1 ¶¶ 18-19; DE 35-11). Griggs also shouted to his wife to call his lawyer.[6] (DE 35-3; DE 35-4; DE 35-11). Finally, Chavez ordered Griggs to stand up and place his hands behind his back, informing him that he was under arrest for disorderly conduct; Chavez then handcuffed Griggs. (DE 38-4; DE 38-2 ¶ 19; DE 35-11).

         No field sobriety tests were performed on Griggs. (DE 35-3; DE 35-4; DE 35-11). However, Greenlee determined, based on Griggs's appearance, odor, and behavior throughout the encounter, as well as the time and location of the encounter, and based on Greenlee's training and experience, that Griggs was showing signs of impairment. (DE 38-1 ¶ 20; DE 38-2 ¶ 12). Griggs was arrested for both disorderly conduct and public intoxication. (DE 35-3; DE 35-5; DE 35-6; DE 38-1 ¶ 20; DE 38-2 ¶ 21).

         After the arrest, the Officers transported Griggs to the lock up, where he refused to give a breath sample. (DE 38-1 ¶ 21; DE 38-2 ¶ 21; DE 35-3; DE 35-4; DE 35-11). Because of this refusal, the Officers transported Griggs to St. Joseph Hospital for medical clearance pursuant to FWPD policy. (DE 38-1 ¶ 21; DE 38-2 ¶ 21; DE 35-3; DE 35-4). At St. Joseph Hospital, Griggs refused to be treated by the medical staff. (DE 38-1 ¶ 22; DE 38-2 ¶ 21; DE 35-9 at 3-4). No blood alcohol testing was performed, and no evidence of intoxication was documented by the medical staff. (DE 35-9 at 3-4). Griggs presented as polite, with a normal mood and affect; he was “alert, oriented to person, place, and time.” (DE 35-9 at 3-4). He denied taking any medications or having any medical problems. (DE 35-9 at 3-4). The Officers told the emergency room doctor that Griggs was under arrest for disorderly conduct, but they did not mention the public intoxication charge. (DE 35-9 at 3). The medical clearance was given for Griggs to go back to the lock up. (DE 35-9 at 7).

         On September 7, 2013, the charges of public intoxication and disorderly conduct against Griggs were dismissed. (DE 35-5 6 at 2).

         B. Cell Phone Videos of the Encounter

         In support of his motion, Griggs submits two cell phone videos of the encounter-one taken by Griggs and the other taken by Nelson, who was standing approximately 20 feet away. (DE 34; DE 35-10). These videos begin at some point during the encounter, and thus, they capture some, but not all, of the Officers' interaction with Griggs. (DE 38-1 ¶¶ 23, 24; DE 38-2 ¶¶ 22, 23). Because of Griggs's and Nelson's vantage points, the videos also do not capture the crowd that stopped to watch the incident or Griggs's eyes, which were red and watery. (DE 38-1 ¶ 22; DE 38-2 ¶ 23). Additionally, not all of the dialogue in the videos is discernible.

         The discernible, relevant dialogue in the videos is summarized as follows:

Officer: “No, your I.D.”
Griggs: “I'll get my I.D.”
Officer: “I need your I.D. . . . I need your I.D.”
Griggs: “I'm getting my I.D.”
Officer: “You're not getting your I.D.”
Griggs: “I'm getting my I.D.”
Officer: “Where's your I.D.? You're not giving me your I.D.”
Griggs: “No, you're being an asshole. It's right here. You've seen it.”
Officer: “I'm being an asshole? You are calling me an asshole? Why you calling me an asshole? Give me your I.D.”
Griggs: “Right here.”
Officer: “Give me your I.D. I need it out of your wallet. You shouldn't call me an asshole on camera.”
Griggs: “I can call anyone an asshole I want.” Officer: “You can, but it's not very nice there Mr. Griggs.”
Griggs: “That's right it's not nice. Why are you stepping on me!
Officer: “I need to get to my car please.”
Griggs: “You don't push me! I didn't do anything wrong!”
Officer: “Why don't you have a seat before I put you in handcuffs. Have a seat or I put you in handcuffs.”
Griggs: (While seated) “We didn't do anything wrong. We're walking down here. You guys are just being jerks.”
Officer: “Yep. We heard what he said. Right?”
Griggs: “I don't know what he said, but . . do you have a thin skin or something? What is your problem?”
Griggs: “Judy, call Bruce Stier. Call him right now. Judy, . . . go in the parking lot and call my lawyer, right now! Judy, . . . walk away, call the lawyer. Right ...

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