United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Valdosta Division
LAWSON, SENIOR JUDGE
case arises out of the August 30, 2017 arrest of Plaintiff
Jessica Wilson for obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
Presently pending before the Court is Defendants Tracy Demond
Gaskins and Kevin Trolinger's Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Doc. 8). After reviewing the pleadings, briefs,
affidavits, and other evidentiary materials presented, the
Court concludes that Defendants are entitled to qualified and
official immunity and GRANTS Defendants' motion.
August 30, 2017, Defendants Investigator Tracy Demond Gaskins
and Officer Kevin Trolinger, who are employed by the City of
Quitman Police Department, arrived at 838 East Lafayette
Street, the home of Plaintiff Jessica Wilson, to serve a
Brooks County arrest warrant. (DSOMF ¶ 1). Wilson met the
officers at the front door and asked why they were at her
home. (Id. at ¶¶ 2-3). Trolinger inquired
whether Wilson son Keldrick Virgil was home and requested
that Wilson summon him to the door. (Id. at ¶
4). Wilson called into the house for her son. (Id.
at ¶ 5). A young man then arrived at the door and
identified himself as Keldrick Virgil. (Id. at
¶ 6). Virgil was wearing neither a shirt nor shoes.
(Id. at ¶ 7).
verified Virgil's date of birth and explained that he and
the other officers were present to serve an arrest warrant
issued by Brooks County for Virgil. (Id. at
¶¶ 8-9). Wilson then turned to Gaskins and asked
why Brooks County issued a warrant for her son's arrest.
(Id. at ¶ 10). Gaskins responded, “All I
can tell you is they got a warrant for your arrest.”
(Id. ¶ 11). Trolinger stated that he believed
that the warrant may be for disruption of a public school, to
which Wilson responded that her son had just been suspended
from school the day before. (Ex. B, 11:17:00 - 11:17:11;
DSOMF ¶ 13). During this interchange, Virgil slowly
backed away from the doorway and out of the view of
Tolinger's body camera. (DSOMF ¶ 12).
requested that Wilson have her son put on some shoes.
(Id. at ¶ 15). As she walked into the house,
Wilson called to her son, “Put your shoes on baby, come
on.” (Id. at ¶ 16). Gaskins followed
Wilson up the front stairs of the house and into the entryway
of the home. (Id. at ¶ 17). Wilson told
Gaskins, “He's coming, you don't gotta come in,
he's coming . . . he's coming, he's coming,
he's coming.” (Id. at ¶
later, Trolinger entered the house. (Id. at ¶
20). It is apparent that when Trolinger entered the living
area of the home that the back door of the house was already
cracked open. (Id. ¶ 22). Wilson continued to
argue with Gaskins about the basis for the arrest warrant.
(Ex. B, 11:18:10 - 11:18:22). During the interchange between
Wilson and Gaskins, Wilson was on the phone. (DSOMF ¶
23). She walked away from the officers toward the back door.
(Id.). Wilson opened the door and looked outside,
then walked back toward the officers, leaving the door ajar.
(Id. at ¶¶ 24-25). Wilson told the
officers, “This is some bull right here - he was just
at school yesterday, they just suspended him
yesterday.” (Id. at ¶ 26).
officers permitted Wilson to speak with someone at the
school. (Id. at ¶ 28). While Wilson was still
on the phone, Gaskins asked, “Where's he at?”
(Id. at ¶ 29). Wilson nonchalantly replied,
“He left, I think.” (Id. at ¶ 30).
Gaskins then stated, “Well then let's go ahead and
book her up.” (Id. at ¶ 33). Wilson
calmly walked toward the back door where she exclaimed,
“He ran out the back door!” (Ex. B, 11:19:25 -
11:19:30). Wilson declared, “When he came in the house,
he went out the back door.” (DSOMF ¶ 35).
Trolinger responded to Plaintiff, “And when
Investigator Gaskins tried to come in the house, you said he
don't need to come in here.” (Id. at
¶ 36). Wilson protested, saying, “When I came in
the house, Keldrick was already out the back door. The door
was cracked.” (Id. at ¶ 37).
then contacted her mother, and the officers instructed her to
put on her shoes. (Ex. B, 11:19:48 - 11:20:08). Trolinger
placed Wilson in handcuffs. (DSOMF ¶ 40). As the
officers escorted Wilson out of the house and into the patrol
car, she continued to shout profanities and threatened a
lawsuit. (Id. at ¶ 41). Trolinger transported
Wilson to the Brooks County Detention Center where she was
cited for misdemeanor obstruction of a law enforcement
officer in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-10-24.
(Id. at ¶¶ 42-43; Doc. 1-2). Wilson was
later found not guilty of the offense. (Doc. 1-3). This
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
affidavits show there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact and … the moving party is entitled to a judgment
as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). A
genuine issue of material fact arises only when “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
party seeking summary judgment “always bears the
initial responsibility of informing the district court of the
basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of a material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323
(internal quotation omitted). If the movant meets this
burden, the burden shifts to the party opposing summary
judgment to go beyond the pleadings and present specific
evidence showing that there is a genuine issue of material
fact, or that the movant is not entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Id. at 324-26. This evidence must
consist of more than conclusory allegations. See Avirgan
v. Hull, 932 F.2d 1572, 1577 (11th Cir. 1991). Summary
judgment shall be entered “against a party who 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, 477 U.S. at 322.
the summary judgment stage, facts must be viewed in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a
‘genuine' dispute as to those facts.”
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). However,
when, as in this case, reliable video evidence is available,
the court should view the facts in the light depicted by the
video recording. Id. at 381; see also Penley v.
Eslinger, 605 F.3d 843, 848 (11th Cir. 2010) (inferences
for the nonmoving party may be drawn only “to the
extent supportable by the record”).