Pierson v. Minneapolis Police Department et al
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS : IT IS ORDERED THAT:1.Defendants Metro Transit Police Department and Officer Greenwaldts Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc No. 30] is GRANTED in part and DENIED inpart as follows:a.Defendants Motion for Summa ry Judgment is DENIED as to Counts I and II of the Complaint;b.Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED as to Count III of the Complaint;c.All claims against Officer Greenwaldt in his official capacity are DISMISSED;2.Defendants City of Minn eapolis and Minneapolis Police Departments Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 13] is GRANTED;3.Counts III, IV, V, and VI of the Complaint are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE;4.Defendants Metro Transit Police Department, Minneapolis Police Department, andthe City of Minneapolis are DISMISSED as parties from the suit.(Written Opinion). Signed by Judge Joan N. Ericksen on March 14, 2012. (slf)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Elliot Lamar-Seccer Pierson,
Civil No. 10-1960 (JNE/FLN)
Minneapolis Police Department,
Metro Transit Police Department,
City of Minneapolis, and
Metro Transit Police Officer Greenwaldt,
Plaintiff Elliot Pierson brought claims against Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure and state law
claims of assault, battery, and gross negligence. Pierson alleges Defendants violated his rights
and committed torts when Defendant Officer Greenwaldt drove his squad car into Pierson who
was fleeing police on foot. Defendants moved for summary judgment on all of Pierson’s claims.
In a Report and Recommendation dated January 6, 2012, the Honorable Franklin L. Noel, United
States Magistrate Judge, recommended that Defendants’ motions for summary judgment be
denied in part and granted in part. Defendants Metro Transit Police Department and Officer
Greenwaldt objected to the Report and Recommendation. The Court has conducted a de novo
review of the record.1 See D. Minn. LR 72.2(b).
The Court notes that the Report and Recommendation and Defendants’ Objection contain
a discussion of the statute of limitations. The Court is satisfied with the Defendants’ explanation
that Pierson’s claims are not barred. (See Def.’s Objection to Report and Recommendation 5 n.1,
ECF No. 50).
Defendants argue that Pierson has not offered sufficient evidence to overcome their
asserted qualified and official immunity defenses. Defendants argue that Officer Greenwaldt’s
actions were objectively reasonable in the circumstances, and therefore, he is protected by
qualified and official immunity. Defendants allege that Officer Greenwaldt intended to use his
squad car as a barrier to prevent Pierson’s escape and did not intend to actually hit him. If
Officer Greenwaldt intended to hit Pierson, his actions constitute apprehension by use of deadly
force. See Ludwig v. Anderson, 54 F.3d 465, 473 (8th Cir. 1995) (“[W]e conclude that an attempt
to hit an individual with a moving squad car is an attempt to apprehend by use of deadly force.”).
“Whether or not [the officer’s] actions constituted application of ‘deadly force,’ all that matters
is whether [the officer’s] actions were reasonable.” Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 383 (2007).
Defendants acknowledge that the use of deadly force would not have been reasonable to
apprehend Pierson. (Def.’s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 14, ECF No. 18). They argue instead that
Officer Greenwaldt did not intend to hit Pierson. Thus, Officer Greenwaldt’s intent in driving
toward Pierson is a material fact. Defendants argue that Pierson’s testimony and the affidavit of
an eye witness about the speed and angle of the squad car when the collision occurred are not
sufficient to create a genuine dispute. They note that Pierson is mistaken about other details of
the apprehension, and they point out that he did not see Officer Greenwaldt’s car until just before
he was struck. Similarly, Defendants discount the witness’ testimony arguing that he was too far
away to accurately observe Officer Greenwaldt’s actions. Although these may be valid
arguments regarding the credibility of Pierson and the eye witness, the Court cannot make these
credibility determinations at the summary judgment stage. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Pierson has offered more than a scintilla of evidence that Officer
Greenwaldt intentionally drove into him. Thus, the Court finds disputed material facts exist and
summary judgment cannot be granted on Pierson’s § 1983 claim and assault and battery claims
against Officer Greenwaldt.
Based on its review of the record, and for the reasons stated, the Court adopts the Report
and Recommendation [Docket No. 44].
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
1. Defendants Metro Transit Police Department and Officer Greenwaldt’s Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc No. 30] is GRANTED in part and DENIED in
part as follows:
a. Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED as to Counts I and II of
b. Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED as to Count III of the
c. All claims against Officer Greenwaldt in his official capacity are DISMISSED;
2. Defendants City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Police Department’s Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 13] is GRANTED;
3. Counts III, IV, V, and VI of the Complaint are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE;
4. Defendants Metro Transit Police Department, Minneapolis Police Department, and
the City of Minneapolis are DISMISSED as parties from the suit.
Dated: March 14, 2012
s/ Joan N. Ericksen
JOAN N. ERICKSEN
United States District Judge
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