United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
pro se and in forma pauperis, Eric LaTroy
Harris brings this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against two
unknown Counter Narcotics Team (CNT) agents at the Savannah
Chatham Metropolitan Police Department (SCMPD). Doc. 1. The
Court screened his Complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and
ordered him to amend it. Doc. 7. Having done so,
Court now screens his Amended Complaint.
is confined at Chatham County Detention Center. CV417-184,
doc. 1 at 3. He alleges that on July 13, 2017, SCMPD CNT
agents entered a home he was visiting and ordered him to the
ground. Id. at 5. He complied with their directive,
but after being handcuffed the agents lifted him bodily by
the arms and dragged him “through the house, down the
porch steps and through the driveway until they reached the
sidewalk where [he] was placed facedown.” Id.
This “treatment was unwarranted, ” he contends,
because he “never resist[ed] the agents in any way,
” had no illegal substances on his person, and
ultimately was not “charged with resisting arrest or
obstruction.” Id.As a result, he received
“multiple abrasions to [his] arms and legs as well as
[an] unknown injury to [his] back.” Id. He
seeks $1.5 million in compensation for the “cruel and
unusual punishment [he] received as well as for the
defamation of character, mental anguish, [and] pain and
suffering that [he] endured at the hands of SCMPD.”
Id. at 6.
construed, plaintiff alleges that SCMPD CNT officers utilized
excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment during
his drug-offense related arrest. “Determining whether
the force used to effect a particular seizure is
‘reasonable' under the Fourth Amendment requires a
careful balancing of the nature and quality of the intrusion
on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests against
the countervailing governmental interests at stake.”
Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 396 (1989) (quotes
and cites omitted).
Because “[t]he test of reasonableness under the Fourth
Amendment is not capable of a precise definition or
mechanical application, ” . . . its proper application
requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of
each particular case, including the severity of the crime at
issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the
safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively
resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.
Id. (cites omitted). The Court examines “the
fact pattern from the perspective of a reasonable officer on
the scene with knowledge of the attendant circumstances and
facts, and balanc[ing] the risk of bodily harm to the suspect
against the gravity of the threat the officer sought to
eliminate.” McCullough v. Antolini, 559 F.3d
1201, 1206 (11th Cir. 2009) (citing Scott v. Harris,
550 U.S. 372, 383 (2007)). “Although some amount of
force is generally needed to subdue a suspect, the amount
used must be reasonably proportionate to the need for
force.” Smith v. LePage, 834 F.3d 1285, 1294
(11th Cir. 2016); see also Scott, 550 U.S. at 383
(observing that in determining whether the Fourth Amendment
was violated, “we must still slosh our way through the
factbound morass of ‘reasonableness.'”).
Harris alleges that he was compliant with SCMPD CNT
officers' instructions, offered no resistance and posed
no threat whatsoever, and yet was still roughly dragged
through the house and unceremoniously dumped face-down on the
sidewalk. Doc. 1 at 5. As a result, he alleges, his back has
been seriously (and perhaps permanently) injured.
Id.; cf. Nolin v. Isbell, 207 F.3d 1253,
1257 (11th Cir. 2000) (“the application of de minimis
force, without more, will not support a claim for excessive
force”). That is enough to warrant a response from the
State, including the assertion of any immunity defense.
Harris' excessive force claim is
GREENLIT for service.
his defamation claim, however, the Constitution does not
forbid slander. Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693 (1976)
(an interest in reputation alone is not a liberty or property
interest protected by the due process clause); Williams
v. City of Savavannah, 2015 WL 994259, at *3 (S.D. Ga.
Nov. 12, 2015) (defamation and slander claims are not
actionable under § 1983). Therefore, defamation of
plaintiff's character --even if falsely accused of
possession -- does not give rise to a claim under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and the State need not respond to it.
Complaint is greenlit for service. The Clerk is
DIRECTED to forward a copy of this Order
along with his Amended Complaint to the Marshal for service
upon the defendants so that they may respond to his excessive
 When Harris filed his Amended
Complaint, he failed to note the original case number and it
was erroneously docketed as a new § 1983 action. The
Clerk is DIRECTED to administratively close
CV417-184, refile his Amended Complaint as such under
original case CV417-154, and the action will proceed under
original case CV417-154.
 Harris explains that he has been
charged with “possession [with] intent & possession
of a drug related object for ...