Bonner v. Romulus Police Department et al
ORDER Regarding Motions in Limine granting in part and denying in part 136 and 137 . Signed by District Judge Denise Page Hood. (LSau)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
CASE NO. 14-10196
HON. DENISE PAGE HOOD
ORDER REGARDING MOTIONS IN LIMINE [#136; #137]
On January 8, 2014, Plaintiff Brian Bonner (“Bonner”) filed a pro se civil
rights Complaint against various government entities and officials and a private
(Doc # 1)
All claims were dismissed without prejudice except the
allegations against Defendants Romulus Police Department Officers Haynes
(“Haynes”) and Perkins (“Perkins”). (Doc # 53) The Court appointed counsel to
represent Bonner on March 23, 3016. (Doc # 103) On April 20, 2016, Bonner
filed a First Amended Complaint against Haynes and Perkins alleging violations of
his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Doc # 108) A
jury trial is scheduled for April 4, 2017. This matter is now before the Court on
several Motions in Limine filed by Defendants and Bonner. (Doc # 136; Doc #
157) The Motions have been fully briefed.
Bonner asserts Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 arising out of his arrest and subsequent detention on March 3, 2013.
According to Bonner, he arrived home that evening and saw assailants who looked
like they would cause him bodily harm. He fled and dove into a nearby house
through an open window to avoid being shot by his assailants. Officers Haynes
and Perkins reported to the scene and arrested Bonner instead of arresting Bonner’s
assailants, allowing them to escape. The officers handcuffed Bonner, and Bonner
complied with their commands.
Nevertheless, Haynes and Perkins repeatedly
stomped, kicked, and assaulted Bonner.
According to Bonner, the officers then took him to the police department
and denied him water and medical attention even though Bonner had
Bonner claims that Haynes and Perkins were deliberately
indifferent to Bonner’s serious medical need despite his plea to go to the hospital,
sense that he was about to have a seizure, and actually having a seizure. Haynes
and Perkins shoved Bonner into a filthy cell where he was denied medical care and
required to lie down in his own urine, feces, and blood. Haynes and Perkins
recommended that Bonner be charged with a “Burglary-Forced Entry”
misdemeanor. The following day, Bonner was taken to an arraignment hearing in
a pink gown and in a wheelchair. After the hearing, he was transferred to Clinton
County Jail where he was kept until March 20, 2013 when he was released on his
own recognizance. The misdemeanor charge was dropped.
Bonner alleges that, as a result of Defendants’ use of excessive force and
their failure to summon medical assistance when requested by Bonner, Bonner now
suffers from Lumbago spine pain, sciatica pain, chronic back pain, pinched nerves,
muscle spasms, arthritis, mood disorder, paranoia, and emotional distress.
Defendants stipulate to the fact that Haynes and Perkins arrested Bonner on
March 3, 2013 and were acting under color of state law when they did so.
Otherwise, Defendants deny all of Bonner’s claims and allegations.
Through the instant Motions in Limine, Defendants seek to exclude evidence
of Defendants’ past alleged misconduct or disciplinary actions, as well as evidence
of Romulus Police Department’s general orders, polices or procedures. Bonner
seeks to exclude reference to the name of Bonner’s past felony conviction.
A. Defendants’ Motion to Exclude Evidence of Defendants’ Past Alleged
Misconduct or Disciplinary Actions
Defendants seek to exclude evidence of Defendants’ past alleged misconduct
or disciplinary actions because such evidence is not relevant and would be more
prejudicial than probative.
Bonner responds that he does not intend to offer such evidence as exhibits
but reserves the right to use such evidence for impeachment at trial based on the
testimony of each Defendant.
Rule 401 of the Rules of Evidence defines relevant evidence as evidence
having “any tendency” to make a fact that is of consequence to the determination
of the action “more or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” The
standard set forth in Rule 401 is a liberal one. Churchwell v. Bluegrass Marine,
Inc., 444 F.3d 898, 905 (6th Cir. 2006). “[E]ven if a district court believes the
evidence is insufficient to prove the ultimate point for which it is offered, it may
not exclude the evidence if it has the slightest probative worth.” United States v.
Whittington, 455 F.3d 736, 738-39 (6th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted).
Rule 404(b)(1) states that “[e]vidence of a crime, wrong, or other act is not
admissible to prove a person’s character in order to show that on a particular
occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.” Rule 404(b)(2) states
that this “evidence may be admissible for another purpose, such as proving motive,
opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or
lack of accident. Fed. R. Evid. 404(b).
The Court finds that evidence of Defendants’ past alleged misconduct or
disciplinary actions is not relevant. Such evidence has no probative value as to
whether Haynes and/or Perkins used excessive force against Bonner on March 3,
2013, or as to whether they were deliberately indifferent to Bonner’s medical
needs. Defendants note, and the Court agrees, that the need for impeachment
evidence of Defendants’ prior misconduct or discipline would only arise if
Plaintiff’s Counsel inquired on these topics, which are not relevant. Bonner has
not shown that any of Defendants’ past alleged misconduct or disciplinary actions
would be admissible for any permissible purpose under Rule 404(b). The Court
grants Defendants’ motion to exclude evidence of Defendants’ past alleged
misconduct and disciplinary actions.
B. Defendants’ Motion to Exclude Evidence of Romulus
Department’s General Orders, Policies, or Procedures
Defendants seek to exclude evidence of Romulus Police Department’s
general orders, polices or procedures because such evidence is immaterial to the
question of whether a constitutional violation has been established. Defendants
note that there are no municipal defendants in this case.
Bonner responds that it seeks to introduce one document, the Romulus
Police Department “Official Order # 32.00.00 Prisoners and Lockup Operations
issued on June 1, 2012 to show that Defendants acted in conformity with the
procedure of the Romulus Police Department. Bonner was placed in cell # 2, and
Order # 32.00.00 states that cell # 2 “will be used for prisoners whose actions or
medical conditions requires them to be separated from the normal lock-up
population for their safety, police personnel safety, or to maintain hygienic
A review of the Joint Final Pretrial Order shows that (1) which cell Boner
was placed in, and (2) who put him in that cell remain questions of fact. The Court
finds that if Bonner can establish at trial that Haynes and/or Perkins placed him in
cell # 2, then Official Order # 32.00.00 may be relevant to whether Haynes and
Perkins were deliberately indifferent to Bonner’s medical needs, and may be more
probative than prejudicial.
Otherwise, the Court finds that evidence of Romulus Police Department’s
general orders, polices or procedures is not relevant to Bonner’s claims, given that
the City of Romulus is not a defendant in this action. Such evidence has no
probative value as to whether Haynes and/or Perkins used excessive force against
Bonner on March 3, 2013, or as to whether they were deliberately indifferent to
Bonner’s medical needs.
The Court denies in part, without prejudice, Defendants’ motion to exclude
evidence of Romulus Police Department’s general orders, policies, and procedures
as to Official Order # 32.00.00 only.
Otherwise, the Court grants in part
Defendants’ motion to exclude evidence of Romulus Police Department’s general
orders, policies, and procedures.
C. Bonner’s Motion to Exclude Reference to the Name of Felony
Bonner seeks to exclude reference to the name of his past felony conviction
as more prejudicial than probative. In 2002, Bonner was convicted of the felony of
Unarmed Robbery and of the misdemeanor of Unlawfully Driving Away an
Automobile. Bonner is still on parole for the Unarmed Robbery conviction. He
was discharged from the misdemeanor in 2002. Bonner proposes that the jury be
informed only that Bonner has been convicted of one felony, but not of the name
of that felony because the name would be more prejudicial than probative.
Defendants offer no objection to Bonner’s proposal but request that the
Court suspend judgment on this issue until trial.
Defendants assert that this
conviction could be crucial for assessing potential non-economic damages.
The Court grants in part Bonner’s Motion to Exclude Reference to the Name
of Felony Conviction as agreed to by the parties. The Court denies in part, without
prejudice, Bonner’s Motion to Exclude Reference to the Name of Felony
Conviction as to the non-economic damages argument.
For the reasons set forth above,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion in Limine (Doc # 136)
is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART WITHOUT PREJUDICE as to
Romulus Police Department’s Official Order # 32.00.00 only.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Bonner’s Motion in Limine to Exclude
Reference to the Name of the Felony Conviction (Doc # 137) is GRANTED IN
PART as agreed to by the parties, and DENIED IN PART WITHOUT
PREJUDICE as to the non-economic damages argument only.
S/Denise Page Hood
Denise Page Hood
Chief Judge, United States District Court
Dated: March 22, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel of
record on March 22, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
S/LaShawn R. Saulsberry
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?