United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
WILLIAM T. MOORE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
(Doc. 13.) For the following reasons, Defendant's motion
is GRANTED as to Plaintiff's claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. As the Court has disposed of all claims over
which it had original jurisdiction, the Court declines to
exercise jurisdiction over Plaintiff's remaining state
law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
Accordingly, Plaintiff's state law claims are REMANDED to
the State Court of Chatham County. The Clerk of Court is
DIRECTED to close this case.
early morning hours of April 10, 2013, Plaintiff and three
companions left the Island Breeze restaurant and club after
one of them had a verbal altercation. (Doc. 16, Attach. 16 at
15; id., Attach. 17 at 1.) While walking in the
area, they heard a series of gunshots and decided to run away
to seek shelter. (Id., Attach. 17 at 2.) They jumped
over a wooden privacy fence into the yard of an individual
living nearby. (Id.) At the time they entered the
yard, at least one member of the group was armed with a
handgun. (Id., Attach. 16 at 16.) The resident of
that home-Ms. Dennison-saw at least one person in her
backyard and outside her window. (Id., Attach. 17 at
seeing these unfamiliar individuals in her back yard, Ms.
Dennison called 911 and flagged down Defendant-a police
officer with the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police
Department ("SCMPD") . (Id. at 7.)
Defendant was in the area responding to reports of shots
fired. (Id. at 6.) Ms. Dennison told Defendant that
"there's two people that broke into my
backyard." (Id. at 9.) Although Ms. Dennison
did not indicate that there had been a home invasion,
Defendant radioed in Ms. Dennison's statements as a
possible ongoing burglary and requested additional units.
(Id.) Defendant exited his police car and approached
the fence enclosing Ms. Dennison's backyard where he saw
two individuals climb over the fence and run away.
(Id. at 3.)
after Plaintiff left Ms. Dennison's backyard, he decided
to come back over the fence on the west side of the property
for his own safety. (Id.) Defendant heard a noise
and moved towards that area. (Id., Attach. 16 at 8.)
Although it was dark, Defendant did not use his flashlight
and admitted it was difficult to see. (Id., Attach.
17 at 7.) Ms. Seydler-Ms. Dennison's mother-was standing
outside of the front door near Defendant when Plaintiff came
over the fence moving towards them. (Id. at 4.)
Although Plaintiff denies hearing any commands to stop,
several witnesses stated that Defendant yelled at Plaintiff
to stop and identified himself as a police officer. (Doc. 13,
Attach. 7 at 13; id., Attach. 8 at 5; id.,
Attach. 10 at 6; id., Attach. 11 at 4; id.,
Attach. 14 at 1; id., Attach. 15 at
When Plaintiff failed to comply with Defendant's
requests, Defendant fired three shots in Plaintiff's
direction wounding him in his abdomen. (Doc. 16, Attach. 17
at 8.) Plaintiff believes he was shot either as he hit the
ground after scaling the fence or on his way down from the
fence. (Id. at 4.)
Plaintiff was shot, Defendant took him into custody.
(Id., Attach. 16 at 12.) Plaintiff was not carrying
a weapon, although a handgun was found nearby. (Id.
at 13.) Shortly thereafter, Defendant left the scene because
he had discharged his service weapon and was subject to an
investigation. (Id. at 14.) As a result, Defendant
was not Plaintiff's arresting officer. (Id.)
When asked why he was shot, Plaintiff stated that "I
guess I was shot to put me down. I guess [Defendant] was
scared for his own life." (Id. at 17.)
Plaintiff was not charged with burglary. (Doc. 13, Attach.
19.) He was charged with one count of criminal trespass and
one count of loitering and prowling. (Id.)
SCMPD investigated the incident and determined that Defendant
violated several SCMPD policies. (Doc. 16, Attach. 17 at 12.)
SCMPD policy prohibits an officer from using a firearm to
subdue a misdemeanor or felony suspect attempting to escape
and who does not present an imminent threat of death or
serious injury to the officer or others. (Id. at
13.) SCMPD also prohibits an officer from using a firearm to
stop a fleeing person who is guilty only of suspicious
conduct. (Id.) Finally, SCMPD policy sets
requirements for officers using their weapons in reduced
lighting including that officers learn how to produce their
flashlights. (Id. at 12.) Defendant was found to
have violated the policy regarding the use of deadly force
and the prohibited use of firearms. (Doc. 16, Attach. 15 at
3.) Defendant was also investigated for failing to truthfully
report a shooting incident, but was not found to have
violated that policy. (Id.) Defendant was ultimately
terminated from employment with the SCMPD as a result of this
investigation. (Id., Attach. 17 at 13.)
March 31, 2015, Plaintiff filed suit in the State Court of
Chatham County. (Doc. 1, Attach. 1 at 1.) He brought state
charges for assault, battery, negligent breach of ministerial
duty, intentional infliction of emotional distress,
attorney's fees, and punitive damages; as well as a
federal charge pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (IdJ On May
6, 2015, the case was removed to federal court because of the
presence of a federal question. (Doc. 1.) On March 30, 2016,
Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss. (Doc. 13.)
Defendant argues that he is entitled to qualified immunity as
to the § 1983 claim because a reasonable officer would
have determined that the force used was necessary under the
circumstances. (Id.) Plaintiff argues that Defendant
is not entitled to qualified immunity because Plaintiff was
not hiding from Defendant, had no weapon, and did not disobey
any commands that he heard. (Doc. 16, Attach. 1 at 15-16.)
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), "[a] party may move for summary
judgment, identifying each claim or defense-or the part of
each claim of defense-on which summary judgment is
sought." Such a motion must be granted "if the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Id. The "purpose of
summary judgment is to 'pierce the pleadings and to
assess the proof in order to see whether there is a genuine
need for trial.' " Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 advisory committee notes).
judgment is appropriate when the nonmovant "fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial."
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
The substantive law governing the action determines whether
an element is ...