Raina Connor v. Tavares Thompson


UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 5:12-cv-00701-H. Copies to all parties and the district court. [999809449]. [15-1353]

Download PDF
Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 1 of 24 UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 15-1353 RAINA CONNOR, Carter, Administratrix of the Estate of Adam Wade Plaintiff - Appellee, v. TAVARES THOMPSON, in his official and individual capacities; WAKE COUNTY SHERIFF DONNIE HARRISON, in his official and individual capacities; THE OHIO CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants – Appellants, and XYZ CORPORATION, in its capacity as Surety on the official bond of the Sheriff of Wake County; JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-10, individually and in their official capacities as Deputy Sheriffs of Wake County; WAKE COUNTY; ASHLEY STEINBERGER; KELLY MITCHELL, Defendants. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Raleigh. Malcolm J. Howard, Senior District Judge. (5:12-cv-00701-H) Argued: January 26, 2016 Decided: May 2, 2016 Before AGEE and THACKER, Circuit Judges, and Henry E. HUDSON, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, sitting by designation. Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 2 of 24 Affirmed in part and dismissed in part by unpublished per curiam opinion. ARGUED: James Nicholas Ellis, POYNER SPRUILL LLP, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellants. Huntington MacCallum Willis, MARTIN & JONES, PLLC, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee. ON BRIEF: Caroline P. Mackie, POYNER SPRUILL LLP, Raleigh, North Carolina; Roger A. Askew, Jennifer McGuire Jones, WAKE COUNTY ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellants. Hoyt G. Tessener, G. Christopher Olson, MARTIN & JONES, PLLC, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. 2 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 3 of 24 PER CURIAM: Todd McElfresh called 911 to request help transporting his nephew, Adam Carter, to a local psychiatric hospital because Carter was threatening to kill himself. Tavares Thompson, a Wake County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Deputy, was the first to respond. When Thompson encountered Carter, holding what appeared to be a paring knife. the latter was Thompson, upon seeing the knife, instructed Carter to drop it. When Carter failed to comply, Thompson fired his gun twice. Both shots struck Carter, resulting in his death. Raina Connor, 1 acting as the administratrix of Carter’s estate, (“Appellee”) subsequently sued Thompson, along with Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison and the Ohio Casualty Insurance Company (collectively, alleges, inter excessive force County Sheriff alia, and “Appellants”). 2 that assault failed to Appellee’s Thompson’s and battery, provide actions and adequate that complaint constitute the Wake training and 1 Appellee’s name is spelled “Conner” in the third amended complaint below, and that spelling has been used by the parties in numerous documents submitted to both the district court and this court. But her name appears as “Connor” in the initial complaint and on the district court’s and this court’s dockets. It is unclear which version of Appellee’s name is a misspelling, so we use the spelling consistent with the docketing notice that initiated this appeal. 2 The complaint also names a number of additional defendants who do not join in this appeal. 3 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 4 of 24 supervision to its employees and is liable for Carter’s death pursuant to Services, Monell 436 U.S. v. 658 New York City (1978). The Department district of Social court denied Appellants’ motion for summary judgment on each of these claims, and Appellants filed this appeal in response. We affirm in part and dismiss in part. I. A. On February 11, 2012, Adam Carter was living with his uncle, Todd McElfresh, in Raleigh, North Carolina, along with a third roommate, Tom Boykin. When McElfresh and Boykin woke that morning, drunk they struggled speak found with to a Carter alcoholism, and doctor. indicated Carter suicidal. that told he his Carter, was uncle willing that who to he “need[ed] . . . help,” J.A. 574, 3 and later asked McElfresh to “[c]all Holly Hill,” id. at 586, which is a psychiatric hospital in Raleigh. McElfresh made the call, but nobody answered. McElfresh then called a friend, who, after listening to an explanation of Carter’s situation, advised McElfresh to call 911. McElfresh did get 3 an answer there, and after Citations to the “J.A.” refer to the Joint Appendix filed by the parties in this appeal. 4 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 5 of 24 emergency responders were en route, the dispatcher stayed on the line and tried to talk Carter out of attempting suicide. The efforts were not entirely successful. After speaking to the dispatcher for a few minutes, Carter handed the phone back to McElfresh, and walked to the kitchen. He retrieved a paring knife and attempted, unsuccessfully, to cut his wrist while Boykin tried to talk him out of it. Deputy Thompson arrived shortly thereafter. He met McElfresh outside the house and followed him into an entrance foyer. McElfresh then proceeded alone up a four-step stairwell leading to the living room where Carter was waiting. McElfresh told Carter that his ride had arrived, and both men started downstairs toward the foyer. Carter was still holding the paring knife he had used to try to cut his wrist. Thompson saw the knife when Carter was about halfway down the four stairs. the knife. He drew his gun and told Carter to drop The command was repeated several times, by Thompson as well as McElfresh and Boykin, but Carter did not comply. When Carter reached the bottom of the stairs, Thompson fired twice, killing him. B. Aside from this general description, the parties dispute what exactly happened between the time Thompson saw the knife and the time he fired his weapon. 5 The district court Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 6 of 24 properly recognized that, at the summary judgment stage, all disputes of material fact must be resolved in favor of Appellee, the non-moving party. accept, 4 and Given the posture of this appeal, we must therefore incorporate, the district court’s characterization of the disputed facts: [T]he details of the brief time (mere second[s] to minutes) between Deputy Thompson entering the residence and the firing of his weapon[] are disputed. . . . Chief among the disputes are (1) exactly where Deputy Thompson was standing in relation to the front door (whether back against a wall or directly in front of the door); (2) the position of the knife during Carter’s descent on the stairs (whether he changed hands, raised the knife, etc.); and, (3) Carter’s speed and agility in descending the stairs (whether falling down drunk or lunging at the deputy). However, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, here the plaintiff, the court notes the following evidence: Thompson testified that he saw Carter with the knife in his hand while Carter was on the second step and while Thompson had just crossed the threshold of the front door. The front door remained opened at all times. The knife Carter had in his hand was a small paring knife. Carter slowly staggered down two steps while holding on to the wall to support himself. McElfresh testified that Carter never rushed toward Thompson or made any aggressive moves or steps. Conner ex rel. Carter v. Wake Cty., No. 5:12-cv-701, 2015 WL 1125065, at *2 (E.D.N.C. Mar. 12, 2015). 4 See infra Part III.A. 6 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 7 of 24 C. Based on the foregoing, Appellee sued Appellants, on October 25, 2012, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Complaint asserts in relevant Appellee’s Third Amended part causes of action for excessive force, inadequate training and supervision, and Monell liability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as assault and battery pursuant to North Carolina state law. On judgment. May 30, 2014, Appellants summary in dispute which It found “substantial fact preclude the judgment as to the excessive force claim.” 1125065, at *3. the for The district court denied the motion with respect to each claim at issue in this appeal. questions moved excessive entry of summary Conner, 2015 WL It further reasoned, “[a]s summary judgment on force claim is precluded because of disputed facts, so also is a decision on qualified immunity at this stage of the litigation,” id., and the court went on to deny summary judgment on the Monell liability, inadequate training supervision, and assault and battery claims as well. and Appellants timely appealed. II. “We review de novo a district court’s decision to deny a summary judgment motion asserting qualified immunity. Summary judgment is appropriate ‘if the movant shows that there is no 7 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 genuine Filed: 05/02/2016 dispute as to any Pg: 8 of 24 material fact entitled to judgment as a matter of law.’” and the movant is Smith v. Ray, 781 F.3d 95, 100 (4th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a)). “In reviewing [a] district court’s decision denying qualified immunity, we generally accept the facts as the court viewed them.” Danser v. Stansberry, 772 F.3d 340, 345 (4th Cir. 2014). III. A. “[W]e first satisfy ourselves before proceeding to decide this case. of our jurisdiction” Cooper v. Sheehan, 735 F.3d 153, 157 (4th Cir. 2013). Appellee has argued that we are without this jurisdiction disputes of fact. because appeal turns solely on We disagree with that characterization. “[D]enial of a claim of qualified immunity, to the extent that it turns on an issue of law, is an appealable ‘final decision’ within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1291 . . . .” Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 530 (1985). hand, a “District Court’s determination that On the other the summary judgment record . . . raised a genuine issue of fact . . . [i]s not a final decision.” (1995) these (internal two rules Johnson v. Jones, 515 U.S. 304, 313 quotation marks allow to us omitted). review the In legal combination, conclusions underlying a district court’s denial of qualified immunity in an 8 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 interlocutory Filed: 05/02/2016 appeal but do Pg: 9 of 24 not permit us to reconsider any “determin[ation] . . . of . . . which facts a party may, or may not, be able to prove at trial.” Id. “In other words, . . . we have jurisdiction over a claim that there was no violation of clearly established law court viewed them.” accepting the facts as the district Winfield v. Bass, 106 F.3d 525, 530 (4th Cir. 1997) (en banc). For this reason, we do not consider Appellants’ assertions that Carter had his knife extended in a thrusting position or that Deputy Thompson had his back to a wall at the time of the shooting. The district court identified both issues as disputed, writing, “Chief among the [factual] disputes are (1) exactly where Deputy Thompson was standing in relation to the [open] front door . . . [and] (2) the position of the knife during Carter’s descent on the stairs.” Conner ex rel. Carter v. Wake Cty., No. 5:12-cv-701, 2015 WL 1125065, at *2 (E.D.N.C. Mar. 12, 2015). The district court’s articulation of these disputes in the light most favorable to the Appellee -- that Carter never raised the knife or “made any aggressive moves” and that “Thompson had just crossed the threshold of the front door[,] [which] remained opened at all times,” id. -- binds us. Nonetheless, outright. The crux the of appeal Appellants’ need not be argument is dismissed the legal contention that Thompson is entitled to qualified immunity on 9 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 10 of 24 any view of the factual record -- including the view adopted by the district court. Resolving that contention is within our jurisdiction, and occasional reference to alternative views of the facts does not strip the jurisdictionally appropriate claim from the case. See Cooper, 735 F.3d at 158 (“Although the Officers evidence mention that they believe will ultimately disprove Cooper’s version of the facts, for purposes of this appeal they have accepted the facts as viewed by the district court. Proceeding from that foundation, the Officers make the legal argument that constitutional rights. of our they did not contravene Cooper’s In these circumstances, we are satisfied jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine . . . .”). Accordingly, whether the facts, we as proceed viewed by Thompson to qualified immunity. whether our jurisdiction to the resolve the district question court, of entitle After doing so, we will address extends to the remaining issues on appeal. B. We turn, then, to Appellants’ primary contention -that Thompson is entitled to qualified immunity from the excessive force claim raised in this case. “Qualified constitutional immunity violations protects but 10 who, officers in light who of commit clearly Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 established Filed: 05/02/2016 law, were lawful.” could Pg: 11 of 24 reasonably believe that their actions Henry v. Purnell, 652 F.3d 524, 531 (4th Cir. 2011) (en banc). A “qualified immunity analysis,” therefore, “typically involves two inquiries: (1) whether the plaintiff has established the violation of a constitutional right, and (2) whether that right was clearly established at the time of the alleged violation.” Cir. 2015). Raub v. Campbell, 785 F.3d 876, 881 (4th We consider each inquiry in turn, beginning with the question whether Appellee could establish before a trier of fact that Thompson used unconstitutionally excessive force when he shot Carter. 1. A “claim that law enforcement officials used excessive force in the course of making an arrest, investigatory stop, or other ‘seizure’ of [a] person” is “properly analyzed under the Fourth Amendment’s ‘objective reasonableness’ standard.” v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 388 (1989). Graham Consequently, we evaluate the facts “from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and the use of hindsight must be avoided. Additionally, the reasonableness of the officer’s actions . . . [must be] determined based on the information possessed by the officer at the moment that force is employed.” Waterman v. Batton, 393 F.3d 471, 477 (4th Cir. 2005) (citations omitted). 11 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 The Filed: 05/02/2016 objective Pg: 12 of 24 reasonableness standard “requires a careful balancing of the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests against countervailing governmental interests at stake.” the Smith v. Ray, 781 F.3d 95, 101 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting Graham, 490 U.S. at 396). To perform this balancing, we look to “the facts and circumstances of each particular case,” with an eye toward three factors: “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 attempting to evade arrest by flight.” resisting arrest or Graham, 490 U.S. at 396. In this case, Thompson deployed deadly force, which requires that a particular governmental interest be at stake to satisfy our balancing test. Because “[t]he intrusiveness of . . . deadly force is unmatched,” it may only be used when an “officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.” Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 3, 9 (1985). Our task, then, is to determine whether the facts and circumstances found by requisite probable cause. The Appellee here. first and the district court establish this We hold that they do not. third Graham factors plainly favor Neither provides a basis on which a reasonable 12 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 13 of 24 officer could conclude that Carter posed a threat of death or serious injury to others. As to the first factor, Carter known to Thompson. had committed no crime His uncle called 911 because Carter was suicidal and needed help. “When the subject of a seizure ‘ha[s] not this committed any crime, subject’s] favor.” factor weighs heavily in [the Estate of Armstrong ex rel. Armstrong v. Vill. of Pinehurst, 810 F.3d 892, 899 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting Bailey v. Kennedy, 349 F.3d 731, 743-44 (4th Cir. 2003)). As court’s to the third factor, nothing view of the facts supports a in the conclusion district that Carter intended to flee, nor was he actively resisting arrest. Viewed in the light most favorable to Appellee, the evidence would show that Carter direction slowly of the staggered Deputy down after his the steps uncle said in the to because Carter’s ride to Holly Hill had arrived. general follow him Such behavior imparts no indication that would create a governmental interest in inflicting deadly force. See Smith, 781 F.3d at 102-03 (Where an arrestee “did not strike at [the arresting officer], attempt to flee the scene, or even turn her back to him,” the third Graham factor did not authorize use of force.). Here, second whether factor the parties’ nonetheless Carter’s actions arguments favored are 13 the center use reasonably of on whether force, believed the namely, to have Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 14 of 24 constituted an immediate threat to Thompson or another person. Viewing the record in the light most favorable to Appellee, Carter possessed a paring knife, refused to comply with repeated commands to drop the weapon, and continued down the stairs (and thus closer to Thompson) rather than stopping. As for the knife, we have held “the mere possession of a [deadly weapon] by a suspect is not enough to permit the use of deadly force. . . . Instead, deadly force may only be used by a police officer when, based on a reasonable assessment, the officer or another person is threatened with the (emphasis in original). 5 possession of his weapon.” Cooper, 735 F.3d at 159 And while Carter stubbornly maintained knife, the assumed circumstances Thompson confronted do not establish that Carter threatened anyone with it. For appropriately the present assumed that inquiry, Carter the never changed hands, or acted aggressively with it. district raised his court knife, We have held that holding a weapon in a non-threatening position while “ma[king] no sudden moves[] . . . fail[s] to support the proposition that a reasonable officer would have 5 had probable cause to See also Pena v. Porter, 316 F. App’x 303, 312 (4th 2009) (“Absent any additional factors which would give Officers probable cause to fear for their safety or for safety of others, the mere presence of a weapon is sufficient to justify the use of deadly force.”). 14 feel Cir. the the not Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 threatened.” been Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 15 of 24 Cooper, 735 F.3d at 159. informed that Carter was Thompson, moreover, had suicidal, which explained the reason for holding the knife. (concluding themselves that and where had police created a officers could See id. at 160 failed “nocturnal have to identify disturbance” on the plaintiff’s property, the plaintiff’s “rationale for bearing a firearm while investigating [that] disturbance . . . ‘should have been apparent to [the Officers] at the time of the shooting.’” (quoting Pena v. Porter, 316 F. App’x 303, 312 (4th Cir. 2009))). The “slowly district stagger[ing] . . . support himself.” that court an also while assumed holding that on to Carter the wall Conner, 2015 WL 1125065, at *2. individual can barely walk contravenes was to Evidence a police officer’s argument that deadly force was necessitated by the risk that the individual might charge and attack the officer. See Clem v. Corbeau, 284 F.3d 543, 552 (4th Cir. 2002). Viewing totality, officer we fail “probable the to district see cause how to court’s they believe would that assumed give a [Carter] facts in reasonable pose[d] a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.” Garner, 471 U.S. at 3. Those assumed facts depict a non-aggressive, partially incapacitated, non-criminal holding a knife in his own 15 residence while providing no Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 16 of 24 indication that the knife was about to be used to harm someone else. 6 Using deadly force against such an individual is unconstitutional, and the district court, therefore, did not err by denying question Appellants’ whether motion for Thompson’s summary actions judgment violated on the Carter’s constitutional rights. 2. We turn, then, to the second inquiry in our qualified immunity analysis: Was this constitutional violation clearly established when it occurred? Even when state officials violate the Constitution, “[t]he doctrine of qualified immunity shields [the] officials from civil liability violate clearly rights.” curiam) so long established as their statutory conduct or does not constitutional Mullenix v. Luna, 136 S. Ct. 305, 308 (2015) (per (internal sufficiently quotation clearly marks established 6 to omitted). expose A an right is official to If this case proceeds to trial, the trier of fact would not be bound to accept this set of assumed facts as we are. Accordingly, our conclusion that Thompson’s use of force was objectively unreasonable and our underlying reasoning -- both of which are expressly based on a set of facts that the ultimate trier of fact need not accept -- likewise do not bind that trier of fact on remand. See, e.g., Clem, 284 F.3d at 552 (“Of course, [the plaintiff] ultimately may not be able to prove these facts, but, if he can, . . . [the defendant officer] violated [the plaintiff]’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive police force.”) 16 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 17 of 24 liability if “every reasonable official would have understood that what he is doing violates that right.” Id. Reichle v. Howards, 132 S. Ct. 2088, 2093 (2012)). to say that an official action is (quoting “This is not protected by qualified immunity unless the very action in question has previously been held unlawful; but it is to say that in the light existing law the unlawfulness must be apparent.” Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640 (1987) (citation of pre- Anderson v. omitted). We evaluate whether the unlawfulness of a particular violation was apparent “in light of the specific context of the case, not as a broad general (quoting proposition.” Brosseau v. Haugen, In case, Mullenix, 543 U.S. 136 S. Ct. at 308 194, 198 (2004) (per a suicidal and curiam)). this Thompson confronted obviously impaired but non-aggressive man who refused to drop a knife held in a non-threatening stagger[ing]” down stairs. manner while “slowly Conner, 2015 WL 1125065, at *2. front door remained open behind Thompson at all times. The We think the unconstitutionality of using deadly force in that specific context was apparent. Three decades ago, the Supreme Court set forth the requirement that police officers limit deadly force to situations where “probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury 17 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 18 of 24 to the officer or others” exists. we have since held that Garner, 471 U.S. at 3. officers who commit a And violation “manifestly included within” the “core constitutional principle” announced in Garner are not entitled to qualified immunity. Clem, 284 F.3d at 553 (quoting Buonocore v. Harris, 65 F.3d 347, 357 (4th Cir. 1995)). Thompson’s violation fits within that principle. reasonable officer could think that a suicidal, No non-criminal individual holding a small paring knife and otherwise acting in a nonthreatening manner who had difficulty standing and walking presents justification proscription. to bar to deviate from Garner’s bright-line Garner, therefore, constitutes sufficient notice qualified immunity in this case. See Weinmann v. McClone, 787 F.3d 444, 451 (7th Cir. 2015) (holding that Garner (and Graham) provided adequate clearly established law to guide an officer’s conduct when he encountered an armed suicidal person “who is neither resisting arrest nor threatening anyone save himself” even where no circuit precedent was more directly analogous); Mercado v. City of Orlando, 407 F.3d 1152, 1160 (11th Cir. 2005) (Where officers found a suicidal individual “crying on the floor of his kitchen with a loose cord around his neck and a kitchen knife placed up to, but not poking into, his chest,” the decision to use deadly force was “‘so far beyond the hazy border between excessive and 18 acceptable force that the Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 19 of 24 official had to know he was violating the Constitution [based on Garner and other broadly stated excessive force articulations] even without caselaw on point.’” (alterations omitted) (quoting Willingham v. Loughnan, 321 F.3d 1299, 1303 (11th Cir. 2003)). There concerning the threatening officers is who also use of existing force individual. acted in against Most 2007 Fourth Circuit an armed, specifically, were not precedent entitled non- held we but that to qualified immunity after deploying deadly force against an individual who “stood at the threshold of his home, holding [a] shotgun in one hand,” but otherwise doing nothing “to support the proposition that a reasonable officer would have had probable cause to feel threatened.” Accepting Cooper, Appellee’s 735 version F.3d of at 159; events, see id. Thompson, at 160. acting in 2012, had no less notice that deadly force was clearly unlawful when he fired as Carter descended two steps inside his home, refused to drop a paring knife, but otherwise did nothing to support the conclusion that he posed an immediate threat to anyone’s safety. As the district court recognized, then, summary judgment in Thompson’s favor is precluded at both steps of the qualified immunity analysis. The facts, as we must view them for purposes of summary judgment, would be sufficient to support a trier of fact’s finding that 19 shooting Carter amounted to Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 excessive force. Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 20 of 24 Moreover, a reasonable officer would know that shooting Carter under the circumstances presented by Appellee’s version of the facts would be unlawful. C. Appellants challenge the judgment decision on two other fronts. district court’s summary They assert the decision erroneously withheld summary judgment on the remaining § 1983 claims and further argue North Carolina’s doctrine of public officers’ claim. immunity precludes the pending assault and battery However, our conclusion that Thompson is not entitled to qualified immunity at this stage of the litigation forecloses both objections. 1. Appellants argue they are entitled to summary judgment on the constitutional claims lodged against the Wake County Sheriff -- an inadequate training and supervision claim and a claim brought pursuant to Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). 7 Having declined to award qualified immunity to Thompson, however, we lack jurisdiction to consider these claims. 7 For simplicity’s sake, we will refer to these two claims collectively as “supervisory claims” throughout the remainder of this opinion. The jurisdictional analysis that follows is the same for each claim. 20 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Generally, liability may judgment.” be erroneous reviewed Swint (1995). “[a]n v. ruling effectively Chambers Accordingly, Pg: 21 of 24 the Cty. denial on on appeal Comm’n, of [supervisory] 514 from U.S. Appellants’ final 35, motion 43 for summary judgment with respect to the claims against the Wake County Sheriff “[i]s not an appealable collateral order.” Id.; see also Evans v. Chalmers, 703 F.3d 636, 654 n.11 (4th Cir. 2012) (“We recognize that because cities do not possess qualified immunity from § 1983 claims, we do not have appellate jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine to hear the City’s appeal of the Monell claims.” Appellants pendent jurisdiction interlocutory individual issue are officers’ of . . . nevertheless to appeals. (citation omitted)). review Where [supervisory] such “our qualified correct a that denial we in certain determinations immunities liability, fully we of . . . resolve [may] pendent appellate jurisdiction over [such] claims.” have the exercise Evans, 703 F.3d at 654 n.11; see also Altman v. City of High Point, 330 F.3d 194, 207 n.10 (4th Cir. 2003). achieved when a qualified immunity “[F]ull[] resol[ution]” is analysis results in the conclusion that no individual officer committed a constitutional violation. Evans, 703 F.3d at 654. require predicate a constitutional 21 Since supervisory “claims violation to proceed,” Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 22 of 24 foreclosure of the individual predicate violation necessitates dismissal of the supervisory claims. Id. But the full resolution requirement is not met here, where we concluded that Appellee has articulated a version of events that would allow the trier Thompson used excessive force. of fact to conclude that When a predicate constitutional violation in fact occurs, affirmatively establishing individual and supervisory liability requires distinct showings. See City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 385 (1989); see also Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 799 (4th Cir. 1994) (listing the elements necessary to establish a constitutional violation pursuant to a supervisory liability theory). confirming the existence of And there is no sense in which a claim’s prerequisite understood as “fully resolv[ing] the claim[].” at 207 n.10. can be Altman, 330 F.3d “[I]n the face of a constitutional violation,” therefore, “we lack subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain an appeal of [supervisory] claim[s]” at an interlocutory stage. Martin v. City of Broadview Heights, 712 F.3d 951, 963 (6th Cir. 2013). Appellants’ request that we reverse the district court’s judgment with respect to the pending supervisory claims is, accordingly, dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. 22 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 Pg: 23 of 24 2. We do have jurisdiction to consider Appellants’ final challenge -- whether the district court erred by denying their motion for summary judgment assault and battery claim. by North Carolina’s with respect to the state law Dismissal of that claim is required doctrine of public officers’ immunity, Appellants argue, because the summary judgment record is devoid of evidence that Thompson acted maliciously, outside the scope of his authority. over [a] police officer[’s] appeal corruptly, or “[W]e have jurisdiction of the district court’s denial of public officers’ immunity” in an interlocutory appeal “[b]ecause, under North Carolina law, public officers’ immunity is an immunity from suit.” Bailey v. Kennedy, 349 F.3d 731, 738-39 (4th Cir. 2003) (applying North Carolina law). But “public officers’ immunity . . . is unavailable to officers who violate clearly established rights.” F.3d at 742. Bailey, 349 So in cases where “a jury could find that no reasonable officer could have believed his conduct to be lawful in light of the circumstances known to him at the time[,] [a] parallel state law claim of assault and battery is subsumed within the federal excessive force claim and so goes forward as well.” Rowland v. Perry, 41 F.3d 167, 174 (4th Cir. 1994) (applying North Carolina law) (citation omitted). 23 Appeal: 15-1353 Doc: 59 Filed: 05/02/2016 That summary holding judgment on Pg: 24 of 24 controls this Thompson’s case. Our qualified denial immunity of defense necessarily entails our judgment that, on the required view of the facts, no reasonable officer could have believed Thompson’s conduct was lawful. The state law assault and battery claim based on the same conduct is thus “subsumed within the federal excessive force claim,” Rowland, 41 F.3d at 174, and suffers its same fate. We affirm the district court’s conclusion that summary judgment is not appropriate. IV. For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the district court is affirmed with respect to the excessive force and assault district and court’s battery claims. determination of Appellants’ the appeal supervisory of claims the is dismissed for want of jurisdiction. AFFIRMED IN PART AND DISMISSED IN PART 24

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?