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Brown v. GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

March 30, 2015

BROWN et al.
v.
GEORGIACARRY.ORG, INC. et al

Reconsideration denied April 10, 2015

Page 57

Cert. applied for.

42 U.S.C. § 1983. Glynn Superior Court. Before Judge Scarlett.

Brown, Readdick, Bumgartner, Carter, Strickland & Watkins, Eric L. Bumgartner, Richard K. Strickland, for appellants.

John R. Monroe, for appellees.

BOGGS, Judge. Barnes, P. J., and Branch, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 58

Boggs, Judge.

We granted this interlocutory appeal to consider the trial court's denial of summary judgment on the issue of qualified immunity for government officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[1] Michael Justin Belt was arrested outside the Colonial Mall in Brunswick, Georgia in December 2008, on a charge of misdemeanor obstruction of a police officer, OCGA § 16-10-24 (a). The charge against him ultimately was dismissed in 2012, after jury selection was completed. Belt and GeorgiaCarry.Org, Inc.[2] (collectively " appellees" ) then brought this action against the arresting officers, seeking damages and declaratory relief. The officers moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted as to all of appellees' claims except the claim for malicious prosecution under § 1983, finding that genuine issues of material fact remained on the issue of qualified immunity. Because the evidence presented meets the minimal requirement of " arguable reasonable suspicion" in the context of qualified immunity in a § 1983 action, the trial court erred in denying the officers' motion for summary judgment. We therefore reverse.

On appeal from the denial of summary judgment the appellate court is to conduct a de novo review of the evidence to determine whether there exists a genuine issue of material fact, and whether the undisputed facts, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, warrant judgment as a matter of law.

[331 Ga.App. 891] (Citation and punctuation omitted.) Hood v. Todd, 287 Ga. 164, 165 (695 S.E.2d 31) (2010); see OCGA § 9-11-56 (c). So viewed, the record shows that on December 14, 2008, Belt went to the Colonial Mall in Glynn County, Georgia, while openly wearing a handgun in a waistband holster. Before Belt reached the mall entrance, a security guard approached him, informed him that the mall had a " no-weapons policy," and asked him to return his handgun to his vehicle, and Belt agreed and began walking to his truck. The security guard also informed Belt that there had been a shoplifting incident at the mall and that he should return his handgun to his vehicle for that reason as well. Belt testified that he was not informed that he was a suspect in the shoplifting.

As Belt returned to his truck in the mall parking lot, David O'Neal, a second security guard and off-duty police lieutenant for the City of ...


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