United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Eastern Division
SHIRLEY MCBRAYER FLOOD, as Personal Representative of the Estate of David Daniel McBrayer, deceased, Plaintiff, ALABAMA PEACE OFFICERS STANDARDS AND TRAINING COMMISSION, et al., Defendants.
ANNEMARIE CARNEY AXON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the court on Defendant City of
Jacksonville, Alabama's (“the City”) motion
for summary judgment. (Doc. 76).
early November 2014, David Daniel McBrayer displayed symptoms
of an undiagnosed mental illness. After being arrested for
disorderly conduct, police officers noticed that Mr. McBrayer
was acting strangely and called his father, telling him that
Mr. McBrayer needed help for a mental illness. A few days
after the police released Mr. McBrayer into his father's
custody, a neighbor at Mr. McBrayer's apartment complex
called the police to report that someone was shooting a BB
gun into a car in the parking lot. When officers arrived,
they found Mr. McBrayer in his apartment. As they started
moving away, Mr. McBrayer left his apartment, went to his
car, and began to return to his apartment holding a box
cutter. As he approached the area near the officers, he
brandished the box cutter and yelled that he felt threatened
by the officers. The officers responded by drawing their
weapons and repeatedly ordering him to drop the
“knife.” Instead, he approached the officers,
moving in the direction of his apartment, still holding out
the box cutter, while yelling that he was going home. As the
distance between Mr. McBrayer and one of the officers closed,
the officer shot him five times, killing him almost
McBrayer's estate, through Ms. Flood, filed this lawsuit,
asserting that the City failed to adequately train its police
officers “to provide reasonable accommodations for
mentally disabled citizens.” (Doc. 23 at 10-11). The City
moves for summary judgment. (Doc. 76). The court WILL
GRANT the motion for summary judgment and
WILL ENTER SUMMARY JUDGMENT in favor of the
City and against Ms. Flood because Ms. Flood has not
presented evidence from which a reasonable jury could find
that the officer who shot Mr. McBrayer violated his
motion for summary judgment, the court “draw[s] all
inferences and review[s] all evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party.” Hamilton v.
Southland Christian Sch., Inc., 680 F.3d 1316, 1318
(11th Cir. 2012) (quotation marks omitted).
November 8, 2014, Jacksonville Police Department Officers
Gilbar and Lyons responded to a call about a possible attempt
to break into a Dollar General and found Mr. McBrayer outside
the store holding a hammer. (Doc. 76-3 at 14, 67). They
arrested him for disorderly conduct and took him to the
Jacksonville jail. (Id. at 14). Within six hours,
Mr. McBrayer's strange behavior caused the jailors to
suspect that he might have a mental illness. (Id. at
12, 16). As a result, a jailer named Jonathan Wilbanks called
a county mental health officer, who was unable to report to
the jail that night and recommended that Mr. Wilbanks call
Mr. McBrayer's family. (Id. at 12).
November 10, 2014, Mr. Wilbanks called Mr. McBrayer's
father, Bradford McBrayer,  to tell him that his son was at
the jail and needed “mental help.” (Doc. 76-3 at
16; Doc. 80 at 20). Bradford McBrayer picked his son up from
the jail late that night. (Doc. 80 at 20).
total, Mr. McBrayer was held in the Jacksonville County Jail
for about two days. (See Doc. 76-3 at 14; Doc. 80 at
20). Officer Dale Edwards worked both days, meaning that he
might have “walked through the jail” and fed the
three inmates-including Mr. McBrayer-who were incarcerated on
those days. (See Doc. 76-3 at 7, 33). Assistant
Chief Gerald Wineman testified that “everybody in the
jail” knew that Mr. McBrayer needed “mental
help.” (Doc. 76-3 at 16).
November 12, two days after Mr. McBrayer's release from
jail, one of Mr. McBrayer's neighbors, Lyssa Scott,
called the police to report that Mr. McBrayer had shot
another neighbor's car with a BB gun. (Doc. 80 at 7). The
officers who responded told her that Mr. McBrayer “was
mentally unstable and advised if he came back around to call
the police.” (Id.). The parties dispute
whether Officer Edwards was one of those officers, as Ms.
Scott did not name them in the report. (See Doc. 81
at 8-9; Doc. 85 at 7-8). The court finds Ms. Flood has
presented sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror
could infer that Officer Edwards was one of the officers who
spoke with Ms. Scott. In his deposition, Officer Edwards
testified that he went to the apartment complex twice that
night. (See Doc. 76-2 at 12) (testifying that no one
identified Mr. McBrayer “the first time, but we were
called back a second time”). It is reasonable to infer
that the first time was in response to Ms. Scott's call,
and that Officer Edwards was one of the officers who advised
Ms. Scott that Mr. McBrayer was mentally unstable.
the officers' instructions, Ms. Scott called the police
back when Mr. McBrayer returned later that night. (Doc. 80 at
7). This time, Officer Edwards, Officer Dan Tomlinson, and
Corporal Howard Bishop went to the apartment complex to
investigate. (Doc. 76-2 at 7, 12). Officer Edwards and
Corporal Bishop knocked on Mr. McBrayer's door while
Officer Tomlinson went around the back, but although Officer
Tomlinson could see Mr. McBrayer inside, Mr. McBrayer did not
answer the door. (Id. at 6-7). Corporal Bishop
ordered the officers to return to “service, ” but
as they were leaving, Officer Tomlinson reported that Mr.
McBrayer had left his apartment. (Id. at 12-13).
Officer Edwards and Officer Tomlinson approached Mr.
McBrayer, who was by that time rummaging through the trunk of
his car. (Id.).
this time, Officers Tomlinson and Edwards turned on their
body cameras. The first thirty seconds of each recording is
silent, but Officer Edwards has testified about what was said
during that time and Ms. Flood does not dispute Officer
Edwards' testimony on that point. (See Doc. 91;
see also Doc. 76-2 at 8; Doc. 81 at 2-3 ¶ 7).
The videos show that as Mr. McBrayer walked back toward his
apartment carrying a box cutter in his right hand, the
officers approached him with Officer Tomlinson to the left
and Officer Edwards to the right. (Doc. 76-2 at 7-8; Doc.
76-1 (Edwards Video) 00:00-00:26). When the officers got
within a few feet of Mr. McBrayer, he “scream[ed] . . .
‘I feel threatened'” and raised the box
cutter in Officer Tomlinson's direction. (Doc. 76-2 at 8;
see Doc. 76-1 (Tomlinson Video) at 00:13-00:30). He
quickly became agitated, brandishing the box cutter and
yelling that he was going home, to which the officers told
him, “No, you're not.” (Doc. 76-1 (Tomlinson
Video) at 00:15-00:33; Doc. 76-1 (Edwards Video) at
officers, who pulled their guns when he raised the box
cutter, repeatedly shouted for Mr. McBrayer to drop
“the knife.” (Doc. 76-1 (Tomlinson Video) at
00:33-00:41; Doc 76-1 (Edwards Video) at 00:23-00:50). Mr.
McBrayer, pointing the knife at Officer Edwards, told him to
get out of the way and said “I'm going home.”
(Doc. 76-1 (Edwards Video) at 00:38-00:42). Meanwhile, the
officers continued to repeat their commands for Mr. McBrayer
to drop the knife, and he continued to ignore those commands.
(Doc. 76-1 (Tomlinson Video) at 00:35-00:41; Doc. 76-1
(Edwards Video) at 00:38-00:50).
McBrayer continued moving in the direction of his apartment,
and Officer Edwards backed up as Mr. McBrayer got closer to
him. (Doc. 76-1 (Tomlinson Video) at 00:33-00:41; (Doc. 76-1
(Edwards Video) at 00:23-00:50). As Mr. McBrayer moved toward
Officer Edwards, Officer Edwards fired his gun five times,
hitting Mr. McBrayer in the chest. (Doc. 76-1 (Tomlinson
Video) at 00:41-00:50; Doc. 76-1 (Edwards Video) at
00:50-00:55). After Mr. McBrayer fell to the ground, ...