Garcia v. Wright et al
ORDER granting 32 Motion for Summary Judgment and adopting 57 Report and Recommendations. This matter is dismissed with prejudice. Signed by Honorable Jimm Larry Hendren on January 29, 2014. (adw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
JOSE ALONSO GARCIA
Civil No. 12-5037
OFFICER WRIGHT (#341),
Springdale Police Department;
and SERGEANT KIMER, Springdale
O R D E R
(document #32); the Report And Recommendation Of The Magistrate
Judge (“R&R”) (document #57); and Plaintiff’s Written Objections
To Recommendation Of The Magistrate Judge (“Objections”) (document
#60), and the Court, being well and sufficiently advised, finds
and orders as follows:
In his § 1983 Complaint, plaintiff Jose Alonso Garcia
contends that defendants subjected him to the use of excessive
force during his arrest on January 29, 2012.
Defendants denied the material allegations of the Complaint,
and then moved for summary judgment.
United States Magistrate Judge Erin L. Setser conducted an
evidentiary hearing to flesh out the evidence, and entered the R&R
violation had occurred and that defendants were protected by
She recommended that Garcia’s claim be
Garcia objects to the R&R.
His Objections are somewhat
rambling, making it difficult to discern the specifics of the
objections, but it appears that Garcia challenges the sufficiency
As explained in Stoner v. Watlingten, 735 F.3d 799, 802
(8th Cir. 2013), “[t]he doctrine of qualified immunity protects
government officials ‘from liability for civil damages insofar as
their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have
In resolving the issue of qualified immunity, the Court
“must examine the record to determine which facts are genuinely
disputed and view those facts in the light most favorable to the
contradicted by the record . . . that no reasonable jury could
Wright v. U.S., --- Fed. Appx. ---, 2013 WL
6211744 (8th Cir. 2013).
In order to prove that defendants are liable for the use
of excessive force, Garcia must show not just that defendants used
force in arresting him, but that they used unreasonable force.
The Supreme Court 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.”
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989).
In other words, some force may
well be reasonable in making an arrest.
Whether the level of force is reasonable depends on the facts
of the case -- viewed from the perspective of “a reasonable
officer on the scene” -- “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.
The following facts are not in genuine dispute, either
contradictory on the issue:
Garcia admits fleeing from defendants after leaving
“what has been classified as a cluster of narcotics area.”
He admits that his conduct while fleeing endangered
others, and the dashcam videos of the police cars confirm that
admission, showing him making extremely wide right-hand turns that
take him into the oncoming traffic lane, and driving several times
down the wrong side of the street for extended distances.
The car chase came to an end in a dark cul de sac.
Garcia was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at
the time, and the dashcam videos show him getting out of his car
with a bottle of beer in his hand.
There were two other people in Garcia’s car.
Garcia hit one of the officers, although he contends he
did so accidentally.
When one of the officers attempted to push Garcia’s
upper body down on the trunk of the car he successfully resisted,
enough so that he “stopped every time and I never hit the thing.”
Garcia later pled guilty to a charge of aggravated
assault on an officer in connection with the events in question.
Even giving Garcia the benefit of all doubts, the foregoing
demonstrates that police officers were presented with a tense
situation, one that could well be fraught with danger, and that
Garcia was not completely compliant during his arrest.
these circumstances, it was not unreasonable for defendants to use
a certain amount of force to ensure that Garcia -- and his
passengers -- were safely under their control and could not run,
pull a gun, or otherwise endanger their safety, or the safety of
The amount of force used -- even giving Garcia the
benefit of the doubt -- cannot be considered excessive under the
While at times Garcia claims that his head was
slammed into the trunk of a police car three times, at other times
he admits that his head was not slammed into the trunk because of
While he claims that he was struck in the neck
three times, causing knots to arise, he also admits that the knots
did not arise for several days after his arrest, and that they
were, in fact, evidence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer,
and were surgically removed a few months after his arrest.1
The foregoing facts do not demonstrate a violation of
Garcia’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable
reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police
officers are often forced to make split-second judgments -- in
circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving -about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular
Id., 490 U.S. at 396-97.
That description certainly applies to the situation here,
even under Garcia’s description of events.
A fleeing suspect,
under the influence of drugs and alcohol, endangers others during
flight from a known area of drug trafficking, and leads officers
into a dark cul de sac.
During arrest, he offers some degree of
resistance, and sustains several blows to his neck, a bump on his
head and some cuts and bruises where handcuffs were applied. This
does not amount to the use of excessive force.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the R&R
should be adopted; that Garcia’s Objections thereto should be
overruled; that defendant’s First Motion For Summary Judgment
Garcia also complains that he had a bump on his head and mild cuts and bruises
caused by the handcuffs placed on him when he was arrested, but it is not clear that he
contends these were evidence of the use of excessive force, nor would the Court find
them so, in light of the circumstances of the arrest.
should be granted; and that this matter should be dismissed with
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Report And Recommendation Of
The Magistrate Judge (document #57) is adopted in toto.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Written Objections To
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants’ First Motion For
Summary Judgment (document #32) is granted, and this matter is
dismissed with prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Jimm Larry Hendren
JIMM LARRY HENDREN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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