United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. HAROLD ALBRITTON, Senior District Judge.
This cause is before the court on two separate Motions for Summary Judgment, one filed by Defendant Dale County Deputy Sheriff Mason Bynum ("Defendant Bynum") (Doc. # 63) and the other filed by the remaining Defendants, including the City of Dothan (Doc # 67). The other individual Defendants are Dothan police officers Ray Mock, Chad Hammack, Jason Adkins, and David Saxon. Also before the court are Plaintiff John Williams' ("Plaintiff") Response in Opposition to the Motions for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 76) and Replies thereto filed by Defendant Bynum (Doc. # 80) and the remaining Defendants (Doc. # 79).
The Defendants have moved for summary judgment on each of three remaining claims in this action. Those claims are a federal § 1983 claim of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment against all individual Defendants, a state law battery claim against the individual Defendants except Defendant Bynum,  and a negligent retention and supervision claim pursuant to § 1983 against the City of Dothan. The court has federal question subject matter jurisdiction over the federal claims and may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343(a), and 1367.
For the reasons to be discussed, the Motions for Summary Judgment are due to be GRANTED as to the federal claims and the state law claim is due to be dismissed without prejudice.
II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment is proper "if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and... the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
The party asking for summary judgment "always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, " relying on submissions "which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 323. Once the moving party has met its burden, the nonmoving party must "go beyond the pleadings" and show that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324.
Both the party "asserting that a fact cannot be, " and a party asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed, must support their assertions by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record, " or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c)(1)(A)-(B). Acceptable materials under Rule 56(c)(1)(A) include "depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials."
To avoid summary judgment, the nonmoving party "must do more than show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). On the other hand, the evidence of the non-movant must be believed and all justifiable inferences must be drawn in its favor. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986).
After the nonmoving party has responded to the motion for summary judgment, the 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).
The submissions of the parties establish the following facts, construed in a light most favorable to the non-movant, the Plaintiff:
On April 20, 2012, the Plaintiff attended a family social gathering during the day. While he was there, he received a call from a woman with whom he had been previously acquainted. The woman knew the Plaintiff's then-wife's cousin. Unbeknownst to the Plaintiff, on this occasion the woman was also serving as a confidential informant (CI) for the Wiregrass Violent Crime Drug Task Force ("the Task Force"). She asked the Plaintiff for half an ounce of methamphetamine. The Plaintiff told the CI he could procure the methamphetamine for her. After he left the social gathering with his then-wife and children, he dropped them off at the family home. He then went to see an acquaintance who fronted him the methamphetamine to sell to the CI. After he received the methamphetamine, he drove to the CI's home. By the time he traveled to meet the CI at her home, it was night, and therefore completely dark outside.
Earlier that day, members of the Task Force met to discuss the information they had received from the CI regarding the planned drug transaction. Before the Plaintiff arrived at the CI's home, all of the individual Defendants and former Defendant Culbreath were positioned at the home, waiting for the Plaintiff to arrive. Defendants Mock and Hammack were parked in the yard, Defendants Adkins and Saxon were parked at a nearby residence, and former Defendant Culbreath was parked two driveways down from the CI's home. Defendant Bynum was also present waiting for the Plaintiff to arrive.
As the Plaintiff arrived at the CI's home, he was holding the methamphetamine in his lap, packaged in a sandwich bag. He was not carrying a firearm. When he pulled into the driveway, he saw a black SUV parked there. He speculated that the vehicle belonged to the CI's boyfriend, who he thought would not be home at the time of the planned transaction. This caused him to back his vehicle out of the driveway in order to leave. While he was backing up, he saw flashing blue and red police lights illuminate in the vehicle. He continued to back up in his vehicle, which then fell into a ditch on the other side of the street from the CI's driveway. After the vehicle went into the ditch, the Plaintiff left the vehicle and began to flee on foot in an attempt to get away from the police that he now knew were pursuing him. He was still holding the methamphetamine when he began to run away.
After he began to run, the Plaintiff was tackled by one of the police officers on the scene, Officer Mock. Shortly before he was tackled, he threw the methamphetamine in hopes of getting rid of it. After the police officer tackled him, Plaintiff was positioned on the ground on his stomach. At that point, one or more of the officers began to strike or beat him on the face and on his head. He heard one officer use a racial epithet to say he planned to "teach [the Plaintiff] a lesson." The Plaintiff fell to the ground with his hands outstretched in front of him, and when the officers began to strike him he moved his hands in an attempt to "cover up" his head and protect himself from the blows inflicted by the officers. The officers eventually tased the Plaintiff twice, which prevented him from being able to move. After tasing him, the officers moved his hands behind his back and handcuffed him. The entire encounter lasted approximately thirty to forty-five seconds. No ...