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Stewart v. Hensler

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

February 20, 2019

TYQUAN STEWART bey, Plaintiff,
v.
G. HENSLER, Police Officer, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          SUSAN COLLINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pro se Plaintiff Tyquan Stewart (bey) (“Stewart”) filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit against Defendants the City of Fort Wayne (“the City”) and Fort Wayne Police Officers G. Hensler, T. Hughes, T. Strausborger, and G. Nicklow (together, “the Officers”), after a traffic stop on June 28, 2016, of a vehicle in which Stewart was a passenger. (DE 1). During the stop, the occupants were asked to exit the vehicle, and Stewart was frisked for weapons and issued a citation for a violation of Indiana's open-container law.[1] In his operative complaint[2] (DE 73), Stewart sues the Officers for false arrest in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment and Indiana law, and he seeks to also hold the City liable for the alleged false arrest under a theory of respondeat superior. Stewart further alleges in his complaint that during the traffic stop he was discriminated against based on his religion (DE 73 at 2-3), and in his motion for summary judgment, he claims discrimination based on his race and gender as well (DE 104-1 at 4).

         On November 19, 2018, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, together with a supporting brief and exhibits, seeking judgment as a matter of law in their favor on all of Stewart's claims. (DE 100; DE 101). In lieu of filing a response to Defendants' summary judgment motion, Stewart filed his own motion for summary judgment on November 26, 2018, together with a supporting memorandum and the squad car and body camera videos of the incident, [3] claiming that he is entitled to judgment in his favor on all claims. (DE 104; DE 105; DE 106).

         On November 28, 2018, Defendants moved to strike Stewart's motion for summary judgment on the basis that it was filed one week after the dispositive motions deadline.[4] (DE 107). On December 19, 2018, Stewart filed a “motion” in opposition to Defendants' motion to strike, which the Court deems to be a response brief to Defendants' motion to strike. (DE 108). On December 20, 2018, Defendants filed a reply brief to their motion to strike, and on December 21, 2018, Defendants filed a response brief to Stewart's motion for summary judgment. (DE 109; DE 110). Stewart has not filed a reply brief to his motion for summary judgment, and the time to do so has now passed. N.D. Ind. L.R. 7-1(d)(2)(B). Therefore, these matters are now ripe for adjudication.

         For the following reasons, Defendants' motion for summary judgment will be GRANTED, and Stewart's motion for summary judgment will be DENIED.[5]

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND [6]

         This case arises out of a traffic stop that occurred on June 28, 2016, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (DE 100-1 at 2; DE 100-2 at 1; DE 100-3 at 1, ¶ 5). That day, Fort Wayne Police Officers Timothy Hughes (“Hughes”) and George Nicklow (“Nicklow”) were on duty in full police uniform and operating an unmarked police vehicle. (DE 100-3 at 1, ¶ 5). Officers Hughes and Nicklow observed a black Oldsmobile Bravada turn left from Turtle Creek Boulevard onto Paulding Road, which had two lanes of travel in each direction. (DE 100-3 at 1-2, ¶¶ 6, 7). The Officers further observed that when making the left turn, the Bravada traveled into the left-hand lane, and then proceeded through the left-hand lane into the right-hand lane of travel without signaling its lane change. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶ 8).

         The Bravada was being driven by Stewart's sister, Natasha Stewart (“Natasha”), and Stewart was sitting in the front-passenger seat; Stewart's brother, Antoan Stewart (“Antoan”), was sitting in the back seat of the Bravada. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶¶ 10-11). Stewart admits that the Bravada traveled into the far right lane, but states that he was not paying enough attention at the time to know whether Natasha had signaled the lane change. (DE 100-1 at 18-19, Dep. 83-84).

         After observing the Bravada change lanes without signaling, Officers Hughes and Nicklow initiated a traffic stop of the Bravada. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶ 9). The Bravada then stopped in a nearby parking lot. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶ 12).

         After the Bravada stopped, Officer Nicklow approached the driver's side of the vehicle, and Officer Hughes approached the passenger's side. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶ 12). Officer Hughes states that as he was approaching the vehicle, he saw Stewart making furtive movements. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶ 13). Specifically, Officer Hughes states that he saw Stewart lean forward and reach underneath his seat as though he was attempting to hide something. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶ 13). Stewart, however, denies that he reached for anything on the floorboard of the car. (DE 100-1 at 16-17, Dep. 80-81). Stewart testified, rather, that he just turned around to talk with Antoan because he knew there was a warrant out on Antoan and there was “a good possibility that [Antoan] was about to go to jail.” (DE 100-1 at 16-17, Dep. 80-81). Stewart told Antoan that the family would try to come together to pay the amount necessary to get Antoan out, and Stewart then reached back to shake Antoan's hand and “that was it.” (DE 100-1 at 16-17, Dep. 80-81).

         Upon reaching the Bravada, Officers Hughes and Nicklow obtained identification from the vehicle's occupants. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶ 14). When checking the identifications, Officers Hughes and Nicklow discovered that Antoan had two body attachments out for his arrest. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶ 14). Antoan was removed from the vehicle, handcuffed, and placed in the back of the squad car. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶ 14). The identifications also revealed that Stewart had alerts attached to his name that indicated he was a known resistor and that he had been denied a handgun permit. (DE 100-3 at 2, ¶ 15).

         Officer Hughes grew increasingly concerned that the item Stewart appeared to have been hiding beneath his seat was a gun or other weapon. (DE 100-3 at 3, ¶ 16). Due to concerns for officer safety, Officers Hughes and Nicklow asked Stewart to exit the vehicle, and Stewart was frisked for weapons.[7] (DE 100-3 at 3, ¶¶ 17, 18; DE 100-4 at 2, ¶¶ 8, 9). Natasha was not frisked. (DE 100-1 at 19, Dep. 83). Several officers then searched the areas of the Bravada in Stewart's immediate control for weapons. (DE 100-3 at 3, ¶ 19; DE 100-4 at 2, ¶ 10). Officer Hughes discovered a mostly-empty bottle of Bud Light under Stewart's seat and an open bottle of Hennessey in the center console. (DE 100-3 at 3, ¶ 19; DE 100-4 at 2, ¶ 10). The bottle of Bud Light was still cold and was located in the area where Stewart appeared to be reaching when Officer Hughes approached the Bravada. (DE 100-3 at 3, ¶ 20).

         In interacting with Stewart, Officers Hughes and Nicklow smelled alcohol on Stewart's breath. (DE 100-3 at 3, ¶ 21; DE 100-4 at 2, ¶ 11). Accordingly, they administered a portable breathalyzer test (“PBT”) to Stewart, but the device was not functioning properly. (DE 100-3 at 3, ¶ 22; DE 100-4 at 2, ¶ 12). Natasha was not given a PBT. (DE 100-1 at 19, Dep. 83). Stewart was then issued a citation for violation of Indiana's open-container law, Ind. Code § 9-30-15-3, and Natasha was given a citation for failure to signal lane change, a violation of Ind. Code § 9-21-8-25. (DE 100-3 at 3, ¶¶ 23, 24; DE 100-4 at 2, ¶ 13). After receiving the citations, Stewart and Natasha left the scene in the Bravada. (DE 100-3 at 3, ¶ 25; DE 100-4 at 2, ¶ 14).

         In July 2016, Natasha entered a plea of admission to the citation for failure to signal lane change, a judgment was entered against her, and she paid the assessed fine. (DE 100-2 at 4). In September 2016, after a bench trial, the state court concluded that Stewart had violated Indiana's open-container law, and assessed him a fine of $35.50. (DE 100-1 at 4-5, Dep. 11-12).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         On a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he 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(a); see Payne, 337 F.3d at 770. When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, “a court may not make credibility determinations, weigh the evidence, or decide which inferences to draw from the facts; these are jobs for a factfinder.” Payne, 337 F.3d at 770 (citations omitted). The only task in ruling on a motion for summary judgment is “to decide, based on the evidence of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial.” Waldridge v. Am. Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1994) (citations omitted).

         If the evidence is such that a reasonable factfinder could return a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party, summary judgment may not be granted. Payne, 337 F.3d at 770. A court must construe the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and avoid “the temptation to decide which party's version of the facts is more likely true[, ]” as “summary judgment cannot be used to resolve swearing contests between litigants.” Id. (citations omitted). However, “a party opposing summary judgment may not rest on the pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial.” Id. at 771 (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)).

         “When, as here, cross-motions for summary judgment are filed, we look to the burden of proof that each party would bear on an issue of trial; we then require that party to go beyond the pleadings and affirmatively to establish a genuine issue of material fact.” Diaz v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 499 F.3d 640, 643 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Santaella v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., 123 F.3d 456, 461 (7th Cir. 1997)); see also M.O. v. Ind. Dep't of Educ., 635 F.Supp.2d 847, 850 (N.D. Ind. 2009). “The contention of one party that there are no issues of material fact sufficient to prevent the entry of judgment in its favor does not bar that party from asserting that there are issues of material fact sufficient to prevent the entry of judgment as a matter of law against it.” M.O., 635 F.Supp.2d at 850 (citation omitted); see Zook v. Brown, 748 F.2d 1161, 1166 (7th Cir. 1984). That is, cross-motions for summary judgment do not alter each party's burdens in the summary judgment analysis; each responsive party must ...


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