United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
STEVEN D. KING, Plaintiff,
ADAM AUSTIN, et al. Defendants.
V. S. GRANADE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation
which recommends that Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment be granted in part and denied in part. (Doc. 65).
Plaintiff has filed an objection to the Report and
Recommendation in which he attempts to address the
deficiencies in his Complaint which were addressed by the
Magistrate Judge (Doc. 66). Defendants have filed an
objection to the Report and Recommendation asserting that
summary judgment is also due to be granted with regard to
Plaintiffs claims for excessive force and deliberate
indifference to which the Magistrate Judge did not recommend
judgment as a matter of law. (Doc. 70).
relevant factual background is detailed in the Report as
On May 19, 2015, Plaintiff Steven D. King alleges in his
complaint that `he was with his ex-girlfriend at a house on
Main Street in Prichard, Alabama when police officers entered
the home and ordered him to lay [sic] face down on
the floor. King claims he immediately followed the
officers' commands and his hands were secured in cuffs
behind his back. While lying face down on the ground,
handcuffed and compliant, King claims Officer Defendants
Jennings Powell, Jeffrey Hillburn, and Joseph Goff proceeded
to beat and kick him. He further alleges the officers pushed
guns to his head and exclaimed they would kill him if he
According to King, he was then led outside the house and
“kicked off” a “very high cliff”
(approximately two to three stories high) by Defendant
Officers Jeffrey Hillburn, Joseph Goff, and Louis Screws,
causing him to fall and hit his head on the paved street
below. While lying in the street, King alleges the officers
again pushed guns to his head warning him “not to
move.” King asserts he immediately requested but was
denied medial [sic] attention and was placed in a
police vehicle for transport to the Mobile County Police
Department. While en route to the Mobile Police Department,
King claims he “begged for medical attention and
water” but it was again denied.
(Doc. 65 at 1-2)(internal citations omitted).
object to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation as to the
excessive force claim against Jennings Powell, Jeffrey
Hillburn, and Joseph Goff on the grounds that the affidavits
of the police officers do not tend to support Plaintiff's
claim, because the amount of force used was reasonable, and
because it is Plaintiff's burden to submit the necessary
medical records to establish that the force used was more
than de minimus. (Doc. 70, section I., (A) and (B)).
Defendants additionally object to the Magistrate Judge's
recommendation as to Plaintiff's deliberate indifference
claim on the grounds that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden
to establish “a serious medical need”. (Doc. 70,
section II.). Defendants' objections will be addressed in
Claim of Excessive Force against Jennings Powell, Jeffrey
Hillburn, and Joseph Goff
to Plaintiff, the officers violated the Fourth
Amendment's ban on the use of excessive force to effect
an arrest by the assault that occurred after he was placed in
handcuffs (behind his back) and fully compliant and
nonresistant. (Doc. 65 at 9-10). Specifically,
Plaintiff's rights were violated when the officers kicked
and beat him while he was handcuffed, lying face down on the
ground. (Id. at 11).
noted by the Magistrate Judge, "Fourth Amendment
jurisprudence has long recognized that the right to make an
arrest ... necessarily carries with it the right to use some
degree of physical coercion or threat thereof to effect
it." Jean-Baptiste v. Gutierrez, 627 F.3d 816,
821 (11th Cir. 2010) (internal quotes omitted). However,
"[a]ny use of force must be reasonable, "
id., and "[i]t is clearly established that the
use of excessive force in carrying out an arrest constitutes
a violation of the Fourth Amendment." Davis v.
Williams, 451 F.3d 759, 767 (11th Cir. 2006). "Our
cases hold that a gratuitous use of force when a criminal
suspect is not resisting arrest constitutes excessive
force." Hadley v. Gutierrez, 526 F.3d 1324,
1330 (11th Cir. 2008); Reese v. Herbert, 527 F.3d
1253, 1273-74 (11th Cir. 2008); Slicker v. Jackson,
215 F.3d 1225, 1232-33 (11th Cir. 2000).
regard to the amount of force used incident to
Plaintiff's arrest (inside the home), the Magistrate
Judge stated as follows:
When viewing the record in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, there are however disputed issues of material fact
in this action regarding whether or not the force applied by
Defendants violated the Fourth Amendment. Notably, there
remains an issue regarding the amount of force used and the
compliance of the plaintiff that is not resolved by the
record evidence. […] In addition to the factual
uncertainty of the seizure, the extent of any injury
inflicted is ...