United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. BURKE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Moses Stryker brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
against the City of Homewood, Alabama ("the City"),
and police officers Jason Davis, Frederick Blake, and Brian
Waid, in their individual capacities. Mr. Stryker alleges that
Officers Davis, Blake, and Waid used excessive and
unnecessary force while arresting him in the early morning
hours of May 23, 2014. In Count I of his second amended
complaint,  Mr. Stryker asserts an excessive force
claim against the individual defendants under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. In Count II, he asserts a Section 1983 claim
against the City for failure to train and supervise. Mr.
Stryker asserts state law claims against only the individual
defendants for assault and battery (Count III), negligence
(Count IV), and wantonness (Count V).
matter is now before the Court on a motion for summary
judgment filed by the City (Doc. 87), and a separate motion
for summary judgment filed collectively by Officers Davis,
Blake, and Waid. (Doc. 88). The motions have been fully
briefed by all parties to the case. The individual defendants
argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity as to Mr.
Stryker's Section 1983 claim. As to the state law claims,
they argue that they are entitled to peace officer immunity
under Ala. Code § 6-5-338(a). The City argues that
because Mr. Stryker cannot survive summary judgment on his
Section 1983 claim against the individual defendants, his
Section 1983 claim against the City necessarily fails. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the
City's and the defendants' motions for summary
judgment are due to be GRANTED with respect
to Mr. Stryker's Section 1983 claims in Counts I and II.
The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Mr. Stryker's state law claims in Counts III, IV, and V,
and these claims are due to be DISMISSED WITHOUT
Summary Judgment Standard
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). To demonstrate that there is a genuine
dispute as to a material fact that precludes summary
judgment, a party opposing a motion for summary judgment must
cite "to particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). "The court need consider only
the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in
the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).
considering a summary judgment motion, the Court must view
the evidence in the record in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and draw reasonable inferences in favor of
the non-moving party. White v. Beltram Edge Tool Supply,
Inc., 789 F.3d 1188, 1191 (11th Cir. 2015).
"[A]tthe summary judgment stage[, ] the judge's
function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine
the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a
genuine issue for trial." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). "'Genuine
disputes [of material fact] are those in which the evidence
is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
non-movant. For factual issues to be considered genuine, they
must have a real basis in the record.'" Evans v.
Books-A-Million, 762 F.3d 1288, 1294 (11th Cir. 2014)
(quotingMize v. Jefferson City Bd. of Educ, 93 F.3d
739, 742 (11th Cir. 1996)). "A litigant's
self-serving statements based on personal knowledge or
observation can defeat summary judgment." United
States v. Stein, 881 F.3d 853, 857 (11th Cir. 2018);
see Feliciano v. City of Miami Beach, 707 F.3d 1244,
1253 (11th Cir. 2013) ("To be sure, Feliciano's
sworn statements are self-serving, but that alone does not
permit us to disregard them at the summary judgment
stage."). Even if the Court doubts the veracity of the
evidence, the Court cannot make credibility determinations of
the evidence. Feliciano, 707 F.3d at 1252 (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). However, conclusory
statements in a declaration cannot by themselves create a
genuine issue of material fact. See Stein, 881 F.3d
at 857 (citing Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife
Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990)).
the standard for granting summary judgment mirrors the
standard for a directed verdict. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 250 (citing Brady v. Southern R. Co., 320 U.S.
476, 479-480 (1943)). The district court may grant summary
judgment when, "under governing law, there can be but
one reasonable conclusion as to the verdict."
Id. at 250. "[T]here is no issue for trial
unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving
party .... If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted." Id. at 249-50 (internal citations
Statement of Facts
Moses Stryker is a 58 year-old male who, in 1989, immigrated
to the United States from Liberia, West Africa. (Doc. 69, p.
1, ¶ 1; Doc. 91-1, pp. 369-71, 482). Mr. Stryker is a
naturalized citizen and permanent resident of the United
States. (Doc. 69, p. 1, ¶ 1). Prior to coming to
America, Mr. Stryker worked for eleven years as a police
officer for the Liberian National Police, specifically,
within the criminal investigation division. (Doc. 91-2, pp.
6-8). In 2003, Mr. Stryker began driving for Swift
Transportation as a truck owner and operator. (Doc. 91-1, p.
story begins in the early morning hours of May 23, 2014, on
Highway 280 in Birmingham, Alabama. Mr. Stryker and Musie
Ibedingl, a truck driver whom Mr. Stryker was training for
his employer, Swift Transportation, were traveling on Highway
280 around midnight when they allegedly side-swiped a sedan
driven by Tammy Barnette. (Doc. 91-2, p. 10; Doc. 101-1, p.
5). Mr. Stryker and Mr. Ibedingl were unaware of having hit
Ms. Barnette (Doc. 91-1, pp. 444, 467), and they continued to
drive toward their delivery destination at the Walmart
Supercenter on Lakeshore Drive in Homewood, Alabama. (Doc.
91-2, pp. 11, 23; Doc. 101-1, p. 8). Once at Walmart, shortly
before 2:00 a.m, Mr. Ibedingl struggled to maneuver the
truck, an eighteen wheeler, in the manner necessary to park
at the loading dock. (Doc. 91-1, p. 385; Doc. 91-2, pp.
10-11). Mr. Stryker traded places with Mr. Ibedingl and
assumed the driver's position. (Doc. 91-2, p. 11).
Moments later, Ms. Barnette appeared in her vehicle-having
followed the truck for approximately ten miles from Highway
280 to the Walmart shopping center-and parked her car in
front of Mr. Stryker's truck in an apparent attempt to
prevent Mr. Stryker from leaving the scene. (Doc. 91-2, pp.
11-12; Doc. 101-1, p. 6). Ms. Barnette indicated to Mr.
Stryker that she would not move her car until the police
arrived. (Doc. 91-2, p. 11). Ms. Barnette's boyfriend,
Merle Bailey, was also present at the Walmart shopping center
in a separate vehicle which was parked near Ms. Barnette.
(Doc. 101-1, pp. 7-8). Mr. Stryker and Mr. Bailey had a brief
verbal exchange. (Doc. 101-1, p. 8). Mr. Stryker testified
that Mr. Bailey smelled of alcohol and that he wanted to
avoid further contact with him until police arrived (which he
did by retreating to his truck). (Doc. 91-1, p. 392, 448-50;
Doc. 91-2, pp. 13-14).
time later, at approximately 2:00 a.m, Homewood police
officer Jason Davis arrived on the scene. (Doc. 91-2, p. 14).
Officer Davis's blue lights were on; however, he turned
off the video recorder before exiting his vehicle. (Doc.
91-3, p. 28). Officer Davis instructed the parties to move
their vehicles in order to clear the roadway. (Doc. 91-3, p.
31). He told Ms. Barnette to pull her car into one area of
the lot and he instructed Mr. Stryker to move his truck to a
side alleyway some distance away (approximately 50 feet from
Ms. Barnette's vehicle). (Doc. 91-3, pp. 31-32; Doc.
101-9, p. 9). Mr. Stryker complied but pleaded with Officer
Davis to leave his truck in a well-lighted space. (Doc. 91-2,
p. 22). According to Mr. Stryker, Officer Davis became
irritated and stated "if I didn't shut up he would
lock my ass up." (Doc. 91-2, pp. 20-21).
moving the truck, Mr. Stryker, Mr. Ibedingl and Officer Davis
walked around the truck to inspect it for damage. (Doc. 91-1,
pp. 399-400; Doc. 91-2, p. 23). Officer Davis stated that he
did not see any damage to the truck. (Doc. 91-1, p. 400; Doc.
91-2, p. 23). Officer Davis also indicated to Mr. Stryker
that the accident occurred outside of his jurisdiction, and
he would have to call authorities from the proper
jurisdiction to come and investigate. (Doc. 91-1, p. 400). Officer
Davis testified that Mr. Stryker became agitated at this
point and began speaking loudly in another language or in a
thick accent which Officer Davis could not understand. (Doc.
91-3, pp. 32-33).
walking around the truck, Mr. Stryker and Mr. Ibedingl
returned to the truck. (Doc. 91-1, p. 400). Mr. Stryker then
remembered that his company policy requires him to take
photographs of any damage in the event of an accident, and so
he retrieved his company camera from the cab of his truck and
began walking toward Ms. Barnette's vehicle. (Doc. 91-1,
pp. 400-401). However, Officer Davis stopped him and asked
what he had in his hand. (Doc. 91-1, pp. 400-401). Mr.
Stryker explained that it was a camera, and that his company
policy required him to photograph any damage resulting from
an accident. (Doc. 91-2, p. 31; Doc. 91-1, pp. 402-04).
Officer Davis told Mr. Styker that he could not take any
photos, and that he should put the camera away. (Doc. 91-2,
p. 31; Doc. 91-3, pp. 35-36).
Stryker contends that Officer Davis told him to place the
camera in his pocket, but that as a former police officer
himself, he was fearful to do that knowing that an officer
could mistake reaching into a pocket as reaching for a
weapon. (Doc. 91-1, pp. 414-15; Doc. 91-2, p. 30).
Nonetheless, Mr. Stryker attempted to place the camera in his
pocket, at which point Officer Davis drew his weapon (Doc.
91-1, p. 414; Doc. 91-3, p.35). Mr. Stryker asked Officer
Davis "are you going to kill me?" (Doc. 91-1, p.
415; Doc. 91-2, p. 31). Once Officer Davis realized that Mr.
Stryker had a camera (and not a weapon), he re-holstered his
firearm, and suggested to Mr. Stryker that he return to his
truck. (Doc. 91-1, pp. 36, 146-48, 415; Doc. 91-3, pp.
35-36). Mr. Stryker testified that at this point Officer
Davis shoved him. (Doc. 91-1, p. 405; Doc. 91-2, p. 33).
Officer Davis claims that he merely redirected Mr. Stryker by
placing his hand on Mr. Stryker's shoulder, at which time
Mr. Stryker attempted to elbow him but missed. (Doc. 91-1, p.
39-40, 41; Doc. 91-3, p. 36; Doc. 91-2, p. 35). Officer Davis
testified that in response to Mr. Stryker swinging his elbow,
he (Officer Davis) employed a maneuver known as an "arm
bar takedown," but that Mr. Stryker spun around and
evaded him and began walking back to his truck. (Doc. 91-1,
p. 46; Doc. 91-3, p. 37). Mr. Stryker denies attempting to
elbow Officer Davis. (Doc. 91-1, p. 482).
Stryker walked away, Officer Davis tased Mr. Stryker in the
back. (Doc. 91-2, p. 37). Officer Davis testified that he did
this in response to Mr. Stryker trying to elbow him and
evading the arm-bar takedown. (Doc. 91-3, p. 37). After
getting tased, Mr. Stryker began crawling toward the truck.
(Doc. 91-2, pp. 37-38). Mr. Stryker testified that after
Officer Davis tased him, he realized that he was under
arrest. (Doc. 91-2, p. 46). However, he also believed that
Officer Davis was trying to kill him, so he sought to return
to his truck for safety. (Doc. 91-2, pp. 38-39). Meanwhile,
Officer Davis requested 9-1-1 backup through his chest
microphone. (See Doc. 91-5) (9-1-1 audio recording
conventionally filed with Clerk of Court). Officer Davis then
tased Mr. Stryker a second time. (Doc. 91-3, p. 39). Mr.
Stryker continued his efforts to climb into the truck. (Doc.
91-1, p. 412). Mr. Stryker testified: "The officer
walked away so I started dragging myself to get into the
truck to get away from him." (Doc. 91-1, p. 412).
Officer Davis pursued him up the stairs, struck him in the
neck region, and tugged on his legs to pull him down. (Doc.
91-1, pp. 412-13). However, Mr. Stryker clutched the safety
bar in the driver's side of the cabin and refused to let
go. (Doc. 91-1, p. 417).
Stryker then climbed into the cab of the truck, rolled up the
window, and locked the driver's side door. (Doc. 91-1,
pp. 418-19; Doc. 91-3, p. 39). Mr. Stryker yelled at Mr.
Ibedingl, who was standing nearby, to get into the passenger
side of the truck, which he did. (Doc. 91-1, p. 418). Officer
Davis then used his police baton to break the driver's
side window, causing glass to shatter in Mr. Stryker's
face. (Doc. 91-1, pp. 420-21; Doc. 91-3, pp. 39-40). Mr.
Stryker began sliding to the passenger side of the cabin and
Mr. Ibendingl exited the truck. (Doc. 91-1, p. 426). Officer
Davis entered the passenger side and attempted a second time
to remove Mr. Stryker from the truck. (Doc. 91-1, p. 426;
Doc. 91-3, pp. 41- 42). Mr. Stryker clutched the safety bar
in the passenger side of the truck. (Doc. 91-2, p. 44). At
some point during the struggle, Officer Davis sprayed
chemical spray in Mr. Stryker's face and struck him with
his fist several times in the carotid artery and wrist and
hand area (in an effort to force him to loosen his grip).
(Doc. 91-3, p. 42). Officer Davis testified that he
"hammer-fisted" Mr. Stryker and denies hitting Mr.
Stryker with his baton. (Doc. 91-3, p. 42). Mr. Stryker
alleges that Officer Davis hit him in the head and neck with
an object or a "blunt instrument." (Doc. 69, p. 7,
¶ 39; Doc. 91-1, p. 412). Officer Davis testified that
he punched Mr. Stryker in the back a number of times in an
effort to bring him out of the truck. (Doc. 91-1, p. 225).
Blake and Waid, each of whom were on duty at the time,
appeared on the scene in separate vehicles. (See
Doc. 91-1, pp. 200-04; Doc. 91-1, pp. 245-46). Both heard the
distress call from Officer Davis requesting back-up.
(See Doc. 91-1, pp. 201-03; Doc. 91-1, p. 245-46).
Officer Blake appeared first and observed a struggle between
Officer Davis and Mr. Stryker as Mr. Styker held onto the
safety bar in the passenger side of the truck and Officer
Davis attempted to remove him. (Doc. 91-1, pp. 209-10).
Officer Blake ordered Mr. Stryker to "let go" and
then tugged on Mr. Stryker's belt and punched him in the
kidney area. (Doc. 91-1, pp. 212-15, 217-18; Doc. 91-10, p.
44). Mr. Stryker eventually released the safety bar and
Officer Blake forced him to the ground. (Doc. 91-10, pp.
47-48). Once on the ground, Officer Blake put both of his
knees on Mr. Stryker's back. (Doc. 91-10, pp. 49, 53).
Officer Blake told Mr. Stryker "stop resisting" and
"give us your hands." (Doc. 91-10, pp. 54, 56, 68).
Waid approached and observed Officers Davis and Blake in a
struggle to remove Mr. Stryker from the vehicle. (Doc. 91-1,
pp. 249-50). Officer Waid testified that after Officers Davis
and Blake put Mr. Stryker on the ground, he (Mr. Stryker) was
still resisting and fighting. (Doc. 91-1, p. 252). Officer
Waid then "hammer fisted him three to five times in the
jaw or the ear, maybe the side of the neck" in order to
gain compliance. (Doc. 91-11, pp. 47-48).
Stryker denies that he resisted the officers' attempts to
handcuff him (Doc. 91-2, p. 48), and alleges that the
officers continued to kick him and "choke
him" even after handcuffs were placed on
(Doc. 91-2, p. 49). Mr. Stryker recalls hearing Officer Blake
command him to "stop resisting" and to "give
us your hands." (Doc. 100, p. 17, ¶ 12). Once
restrained, Mr. Stryker testified that Officers Davis, Blake
and Waid dragged him across the parking lot. (Doc. 91-1, pp.
428-29, 434, 477-78). Mr. Stryker was then placed under
arrest and put in a police car without further incident.
(See Doc. 91-1, p. 435).
Ibedingl was also placed in handcuffs but was released
shortly thereafter. (Doc. 91-1, p. 352). Mr. Ibedingl was not
arrested or charged with a crime. (Doc. 91-1, p. 353).
the dust settled, one of the officers transported Mr. Stryker
directly from the Walmart shopping center to UAB hospital for
treatment. (Doc. 91-1, p. 435-36). Mr. Stryker suffered a
broken jaw which required surgery. (Doc. 69, p. 17, ¶
81; Doc. 91-1, p. 479). Emergency room staff also removed
glass from Mr. Stryker's face and eyes. (Doc. 69, p. 17,
¶ 80). Mr. Stryker's jaw was wired shut for
approximately eight weeks in order to allow it to heal. (Doc.
69, p. 17, ¶ 81). Mr. Stryker also suffered back
injuries requiring surgery and which prevent Mr. Stryker from
returning to work as a truck driver. (Doc. 69, p. 17, ¶
City brought a criminal action against Mr. Stryker, styled
City of Homewood v. Stryker, CC-2015-3645
and CC-2015-3646, filed in the Circuit Court of Jefferson
County, Alabama, on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting
arrest, and refusal to comply with a lawful order. (Doc.
101-3; Doc. 101-5; Doc. 101-6; Doc. 101-8). Prior to the
criminal trial, the City dismissed the charges against Mr.
Stryker for assault and disorderly conduct. (See
Doc. 101-7, pp. 2, 3). Following a jury trial, Mr. Stryker
was acquitted on the charge of resisting arrest (Doc. 101-4,
p. 2). Mr. Stryker was convicted on the charge of refusal to
comply with a lawful order. (Doc. 91-7, p. 2; Doc. 91-8, p.
2). The trial order states in relevant part:
10/21/16 On this date the jury returned its
verdict which read, 'We, the jury find the Defendant,
Moses Jutomue Stryker, Guilty of
Refuse to Comply with Lawful Order as
charged in the complaint,' and was signed by the
foreperson, Lisa Arrington. In accordance
with the jury verdict the Court therefore Adjudges you
It is the sentence of the Court that the Defendant,
Moses Jutomue Stryker, is fined the sum of
$500 plus court costs, which shall be paid
in full by 9:00 A.M. on January 19,
(Doc. 91-8, p. 2) (bold supplied in original).
to the reassignment of this case to the undersigned, the City
and Officers Blake and Waid filed a motion to dismiss.
(See note 1, supra, and Docs. 40, 44).
Officer Davis did not join in the motion. The Court, Hopkins,
J., determined that the motion filed by Officers Blake and
Waid was due to be granted with respect to all alleged
conduct occurring prior to Mr. Stryker's removal from the
truck. See Stryker v. City of Homewood et al.,
2:16-CV-0832-VEH, 2017 WL 3191097, *11-19 (N.D. Ala. July 28,
2017) ("The officers' motion is GRANTED as to all of
the Plaintiffs claims relating to his removal from the
vehicle."). In light of Judge Hopkins's ruling, this
Court, in ruling on the present motion for summary judgment,
will not consider any alleged conduct concerning Officers
Blake and Waid occurring prior to Mr. Stryker's removal
from the truck. Consistent with the Court's ruling on the
motion to dismiss, the Court will only consider the conduct
of these officers as it relates to events occurring after Mr.
Stryker was outside of the truck and on the ground. The
Court's inquiry concerning Officer Davis's conduct is
not limited in scope as Officer Davis was not a party to the
motion to dismiss.
recap the claims in this matter, as against Officers Davis,
Blake, and Waid, Mr. Stryker asserts a Section 1983 excessive
force claim as well as state law claims for assault and
battery, negligence and wantonness. Against the City, Mr.
Stryker asserts a single count under Section 1983 for failure
to train and supervise. The Court will first address Mr.
Stryker's Section 1983 claim against the individual
defendants. In light of the Court's partial dismissal of
the Section 1983 claim against Officers Blake and Waid, the
Court analyzes the claim separately as it relates to Officer
Davis, and will then turn to the "post-removal from the
truck" conduct involving Officers Blake and Waid. The
Court will then turn to Mr. Stryker's Section 1983 claim
against the City, and will conclude with a discussion of Mr.
Stryker's remaining state law claims.
Section 1983 Excessive Force Claims
1983 creates a private right of action for constitutional
violations committed by persons acting under "color of
state law." City of Newport v. Fact
Concerts, Inc., 453 U.S. 247, 258 (1981); see
generally Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (1961). The
statute provides in pertinent part:
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance,
regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or
the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be
subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person
within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any
rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution
and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action
at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for
42 U.S.C. § 1983. Section 1983 is not itself a source of
substantive rights; it instead provides a method for
vindicating federal rights elsewhere conferred. Baker v.
McCollan, 443 U.S. 137, 144, n. 3 (1979). In cases
alleging excessive force incident to an arrest, the source of
federal rights arises under the Fourth Amendment's
protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989)
("Where, as here, the excessive force claim arises in
the context of an arrest or investigatory stop of a free
citizen, it is most properly characterized as one invoking
the protections of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees
citizens the right "to be secure in their persons ...
against unreasonable ... seizures" of the person");
Lee v. Ferraro, 284 F.3d 1188, 1197-98 (11th Cir.
2002) ("The Fourth Amendment's freedom from
unreasonable searches and seizures encompasses the plain
right to be free from the use of excessive force in the
course of an arrest").
Section 1983 creates a private right of action for
constitutional violations by government officials, the
doctrine of qualified immunity simultaneously operates to
provide a shield from liability to government officials
performing discretionary functions. See generally Case v.
Eslinger, 555 F.3d 1317, 1326 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223 (2009)
("'Qualified immunity balances two important
interests-the need to hold public officials accountable when
they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield
officials from harassment, distraction and liability when
they perform their duties reasonably.'")). The
purpose of qualified immunity is to ensure that government
officials are not required to "err always on the side of
caution because they fear being sued." Hunter v.
Bryant, 502 U.S. 224, 229 (1991). "Qualified
immunity gives government officials breathing room to make
reasonable but mistaken judgments, and protects all but the
plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the
law." Stanton v. Sims, 571 U.S. 3, 6 (2013)
(internal quotations and citations omitted).
Qualified Immunity Standard
receive qualified immunity, the public official carries the
initial burden of demonstrating that "he was acting
within the scope of his discretionary authority when the
alleged wrongful acts occurred." Courson v.
McMillan, 939 F.2d 1479, 1487 (11th Cir. 1991). If the
defendant is not acting within the scope of his discretionary
authority, he may not enjoy the benefit of qualified
immunity. Lee v. Ferraro, 284 F.3d 1188, 1194 (11th
present case, no question exists as to whether Officers
Davis, Blake and Waid were acting in a discretionary capacity
while arresting Mr. Stryker. The burden therefore shifts to
Mr. Stryker "to show that qualified immunity is not
appropriate." Lee, 284 F.3d at 1194. The United
States Supreme Court has set forth a two-part test for
determining the appropriateness of a qualified irnmunity
defense. See Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194 (2001),
receded from by Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223
(2009). Under Saucier, a court must
ask, "[t]aken in the light most favorable to the party
asserting the injury, do the facts alleged show the
officer's conduct violated a constitutional right?"
Saucier, 533 U.S. at 201. If a constitutional right
would have been violated assuming the plaintiffs version of
the facts as true, the court must then determine
"whether the right was clearly established."
Eleventh Circuit has identified the following considerations,
conceptualized as the "Graham factors," for
determining whether an excessive force claim amounts to a
In order to determine whether the amount of force used by a
police officer was proper, a court must ask "whether a
reasonable officer would believe that this level of force is
necessary in the situation at hand." [Willingham v.
Loughnan, 261 F.3d 1178, 1186 (11th Cir. 2001).] The
Supreme Court has held that "[d]etermining whether the
force used to effect a particular seizure is
'reasonable' under the Fourth Amendment requires a
careful balancing of 'the nature and quality of the
intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment
interests' against the countervailing governmental
interests at stake." Graham, 490 U.S. at 396,
109 S.Ct. at 1871 (quoting Tennessee v. Garner, 471
U.S. 1, 8, 105 S.Ct. 1694, 1699, 85 L.Ed.2d 1 (1985)
(internal quotations omitted)). Moreover, "Fourth
Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that the right to
make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily carries with
it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or
threat thereof to effect it." Id. at 396, 109
S.Ct. at 1871-72 (citing Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1,
22-27, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 1880-83, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968)).
The Supreme Court has established that, in order to balance
the necessity of using some force attendant to an arrest
against the arrestee's constitutional rights, a court
must evaluate a number of factors, "including the
severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an
immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and
whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to
evade arrest by flight." Id., 109 S.Ct. at
1872. . . . Graham dictates unambiguously that the
force used by a police officer in carrying out an arrest must
be reasonably ...