United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
LOUISE W. FLANAGAN, District Judge.
This matter is before the court on defendant's motion for summary judgment (DE 57) pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), which was fully briefed. Also before the court are plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (DE 47), motion for reconsideration (DE 51), and motion for trial (DE 69). Defendant did not respond to plaintiff's motions. Finally, the action is before the court on plaintiff's response to the court's October 10, 2013, order permitting plaintiff to particularize his action. In this posture, the issues raised are ripe for review. For the following reasons, the court grants defendant's motion for summary judgment, denies plaintiff's motion for reconsideration, denies plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, and denies as moot plaintiff's motion for trial. The court also dismisses the claims plaintiff raised in his particularized complaint.
STATEMENT OF THE CASE
On December 21, 2012, plaintiff filed this pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendant Brunswick County Deputy Sheriff Eric Sykes ("defendant") used excessive force against him at the time of his arrest. The court allowed plaintiff to proceed with this claim. Plaintiff subsequently filed two motions to amend his complaint, three motions to compel discovery, a motion to amend his request for admissions, and a motion "to reveal name and informant[.]"
On October 10, 2013, the court entered an order granting plaintiff's first motion to amend as a matter of right. The court also determined that plaintiff's amended pleadings were unclear and directed him to particularize his action. Because the court directed plaintiff to particularize his complaint, it denied as moot plaintiff's remaining motion to amend. The court also denied plaintiff's motions to compel as premature. Finally, the court denied plaintiff's request for admissions and his motion "to reveal name and informant[.]"
On October 17, 2013, plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment. Then, on October 25, 2013, plaintiff filed his response to the court's October 10, 2013, motion directing him to particularize his complaint. On the same date, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration of the court's ruling on his motions to compel. In response, defendant filed a motion to stay discovery pending the resolution of plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The motion was fully briefed. On November 21, 2013, the court entered an order granting defendant's motion to stay.
On December 16, 2013, defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff cannot establish a constitutional violation. In the alternative, defendant asserts the affirmative defense of qualified immunity. In support of his motion, defendant submitted his personal affidavit, the affidavit of Brunswick County Deputy Sheriff Brian Medlin ("Medlin"), and the video recordings from the defendant and Medlin's patrol vehicles.
Plaintiff responded to defendant's motion for summary judgment and included a document captioned "amend to declaration in opposition to defendants' motion for summary judgment, " a Brunswick County Sheriff's Office Investigation Report, a statement of disputed facts, and a statement made by the driver of the vehicle on the night at issue. Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for trial.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Aside from noted exceptions below, the undisputed facts are as follows. On August 16, 2012, plaintiff was a passenger in a car traveling along U.S. Highway 74/76 in a rural area in Brunswick County. (Medlin and Sykes Affs. ¶ 3.) At approximately 2:10 a.m., Medlin initiated a traffic stop of a car in which plaintiff was traveling as a passenger. (Medlin Aff. ¶ 3.) Defendant, a K-9 officer, was dispatched to the scene of the traffic stop to assist Medlin. (Sykes Aff. ¶ 3.) Narcotics detectives had informed both defendant and Medlin that plaintiff would be traveling through Brunswick County on the night at issue and would be transporting a large amount of heroin to Wilmington, North Carolina. (Medlin and Sykes Aff. ¶ 4.) The deputies also knew that plaintiff was on parole from a life sentence for a murder conviction in Forsyth County. (Id.)
When defendant arrived at the scene, Medlin was speaking with the driver of the vehicle. (Sykes Aff. ¶ 5.) Defendant then stood by the driver's side of the stopped car and spoke with plaintiff. (Id. ¶ 6.) Medlin asked plaintiff to get out of the car and stand next to the driver of the car. Medlin then asked permission to pat down plaintiff. (Sykes Aff.; Ex. A, T 2:31: 31-33.) Plaintiff consented to the pat down and complied with Medlin's request. (Id.)
After a brief discussion with the driver of the stopped vehicle, defendant searched the vehicle and observed a duffel bag on the back seat. (Sykes Aff. ¶ 6.) Defendant opened the bag and found what he believed, due to his experience as a patrol and K-9 officer, was a large amount of heroin. (Id.) Narcotics officers in the sheriff's office later reported that there were over one thousand nine hundred (1, 900) bindles of heroin in the duffel bag. (Id.)
After finding the heroin, defendant immediately went to plaintiff, put his hand on plaintiff's arm, put plaintiff's arm behind his back, and pushed plaintiff down onto his stomach. (Id. ¶ 7; Ex. T 2:34:14; Ex. B, T 2:35:06-08.) Contrary to plaintiff's contention that defendant uttered an obscenity as he pushed plaintiff to the ground, the video reflects that defendant instead ordered that plaintiff get down on the ground. (Sykes Aff. ¶ 7.) Defendant then placed plaintiff in handcuffs and waited for narcotics ...