Argued January 27, 2015
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Norfolk. (2:08-cv-00281-DEM). Douglas E. Miller, Magistrate Judge.
Michael Beverly, OFFICE
OF THE CITY ATTORNEY, Virginia Beach, Virginia, for Appellant.
Darren Marshall Hart, HART & ASSOC., P.C., Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.
Mark D. Stiles,
Christopher S. Boynton, OFFICE OF THE CITY ATTORNEY, Virginia Beach, Virginia,
Before TRAXLER, Chief Judge, and GREGORY and AGEE, Circuit Judges. Chief Judge Traxler wrote the opinion, in which Judge Gregory and Judge Agee joined.
TRAXLER, Chief Judge
Officer R. R. Ray appeals a district court order denying his motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity concerning Amanda Smith's excessive force claim. Finding no error, we affirm.
" In reviewing the denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity, we accept as true the facts that the district court concluded may be reasonably inferred from the record when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Waterman v. Batton, 393 F.3d 471, 473 (4th Cir. 2005). " To the extent that the district court has not fully set forth the facts on which its decision is based, we assume the facts that may reasonably be inferred from the record when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Id. Application of these rules produces the following facts.
On the afternoon of September 21, 2006, Officer R. R. Ray, a uniformed police officer for the City of Virginia Beach, was assisting private citizen Tony Bullard in finding T., who Bullard had represented was his missing juvenile stepson. Bullard and Ray had information that T. was at a house on Marlewood Way, which was an area with a high occurrence of criminal activity involving juveniles. When they arrived there, they looked through a window and saw several young men standing inside the residence. Bullard tentatively identified one of the young men as T. Ray then knocked on the door of the house and heard " scurrying" sounds coming from inside.
Smith opened the main door of the home. When Ray instructed her to come outside, she opened the screen door and stepped out. Both doors closed behind her.
At that point, Smith was standing on the front stoop, which was two or three steps up from the ground and which extended about one foot wider than the front door on each side. Ray asked Smith a few questions, as Bullard stood a few steps back. Smith answered all of Ray's questions clearly and cogently. He first asked her name and age and whether she owned the home. Smith told Ray her first name and that she was 22 years old, and she explained that she did not reside in the home. Ray then asked if T. was inside, and Smith answered that he was not.
Ray next asked if " Joel," an adult acquaintance of T.'s, was in the home. Smith told Ray that Joel was there and that she would get him. She asked Ray to " hold on," as she turned back toward the door. J.A. 1077. As she opened the screen door, Ray reached over her right shoulder and slammed the door shut. Startled, Smith took a single step away from the house off the small stoop but did not turn her back to Ray. According to Smith, Ray grabbed her arm with no verbal communication. Smith pulled her arm away, and, facing Ray, asked what he was doing. Rather than responding verbally, Ray tried to grab Smith again, and she again pulled her arm away. In the process of pulling away and asking what Ray was doing, Smith called Ray -- who is white -- a n****r. However, she did not turn away from Ray or run.
Rather than explain his actions, Ray grabbed Smith and threw her to the ground. When she hit the ground, he jumped on her, jamming his full weight into her back with his knee, and painfully twisting her right arm behind her back.
At that point, Ray ordered Smith to show him her arms. Ray already had her right arm, however, and Smith was using her left arm to press against the ground to ...