United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
OWEN BOWDRE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case concerns Plaintiff's allegations that City of
Birmingham police officersviolated his rights under state and
federal law in arresting him following an altercation on
April 26, 2014. This matter is before the court on
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 31).
Plaintiff filed a response. (Doc. 34).
Statement of Facts
in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the evidence
before the court shows the following. On April 26, 2014, Mr.
Huston was involved in an altercation at Steps and
Traditions, a Veterans Administration-run medical,
rehabilitation, and mental health facility in Birmingham,
Alabama. Mr. Huston was living at Steps and Traditions at the
time. During the altercation, Mr. Huston cut a fellow
resident of the facility with a butter knife. The Birmingham
Police Department dispatched Officer Eric Burpo to the scene.
When Officer Burpo arrived at Steps and Traditions and exited
his vehicle, he observed a man bleeding. Officer Burpo later
learned the man was Cody Carter, the individual Mr. Huston
injured. Individuals at the scene pointed Officer Burpo in
the direction of Mr. Huston. Officer Burpo approached Mr.
Huston and asked him to sit in the backseat of his patrol
car, and Mr. Huston complied.
Officer Burpo finished interviewing Mr. Carter and two
witnesses, who identified Mr. Huston as the person who cut
Mr. Carter, other officers arrived at the scene. Officer
Burpo then opened the door of the patrol car and asked Mr.
Huston to turn around so that he could handcuff him. Mr.
Huston was then handcuffed while still in the patrol car.
Officer Burpo claims that he handcuffed Mr. Huston. Mr.
Huston disputed at his deposition that Officer Burpo
handcuffed him, but could not say which officer handcuffed
him instead. Mr. Huston asked Officer Burpo if he could stand
up outside of the car to be handcuffed because he had a knee
injury and a back injury, but he was ignored.
Burpo drove Mr. Huston to the Birmingham Police Headquarters
in his patrol car. Either en route to Headquarters or upon
arrival there, Mr. Huston told the officer(s) present that he
could not feel his hands and asked them to loosen his
handcuffs. When the patrol car arrived at Headquarters, (an)
officer(s) “snatched” him out of the back seat of
the car. Upon exiting the patrol vehicle, Mr. Huston yelled
out, because, according to Mr. Huston, the handcuffs were
causing him pain. Inside Headquarters, Officer Burpo removed
Mr. Huston's handcuffs. Mr. Huston was released without
being charged with a crime.
relevant times, the Birmingham Police Department maintained a
policy of observing the rights and dignities of individuals
with whom members of the Department came into contact. The
policy included not using excessive force; not falsely
arresting or imprisoning individuals; not assaulting or
battering individuals; not maliciously prosecuting
individuals; not willfully, wantonly, and/or negligently
conducting any arrest procedure; and not failing to
investigate claims of excessive force. The Department did not
have a policy, custom, or practice of violating
individuals' constitutional rights, but maintained a
policy against violating the Americans with Disabilities Act
and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. All Birmingham officers,
including Eric Burpo, were trained in these policies.
Birmingham City police officers undergo extensive training at
the Birmingham Police Academy, which is accredited both by
the state and by an external commission with stringent
accreditation standards. The training covers all aspects of
police work, including execution of search warrants, the
standards for arrest and detention, and use-of-force
standards. The Academy supplies officers with a copy of the
Birmingham Police Department Rules and Regulations, which
contains the procedures officers are to follow. These rules
and regulations cover the proper use of handcuffs.
training officers receive at the Academy teaches them to
respect the constitutional and statutory rights of
individuals with whom they come into contact. Birmingham City
officers are taught the specific policies of the Department
regarding proper arrest procedures and use of force to effect
an arrest, and are taught to use only such force as is
reasonably necessary to effect a lawful arrest. All
Birmingham City officers, including Officer Eric Burpo,
received this training.
Huston's deposition notice included a request for
document production that asked him to produce all medical
records showing that he was injured. He did not present any
medical records to the Defendant. Mr. Huston testified that
he saw a primary care physician for a back injury prior to
the April 26 incident and that he “rarely even go[es]
to the doctor, ” that he “stay[s] fit, ”
and that he is “in shape.” (Doc. 31-2 at 34).
During his deposition, Mr. Huston stated that his only claim
against the City related to his being handcuffed.
judgment allows a trial court to decide cases when no genuine
issues of material fact are present and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 56. When a district court reviews a motion for
summary judgment, it must determine two things: whether any
genuine issues of material fact exist, and whether the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
moving party “always bears the initial responsibility
of informing the district court of the basis for its motion,
and identifying those portions of ‘the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, ' which it
believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56).
the moving party meets its burden of showing the district
court that no genuine issues of material fact exist, the
burden then shifts to the non-moving party “to
demonstrate that there is indeed a material issue of fact
that precludes summary ...