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Tyre v. Brantley

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division

September 19, 2019

GARY TYRE, individually; SAMANTHA JACOBS as Administrator of the Estate of JERROD WEBSTER TYRE; and YVONNE GILDER, individually, Plaintiffs,
v.
ROBERT L. BRANTLEY, JR.; and JOHN DOES 1–3, [1] Defendant.

          ORDER

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is Defendant Robert L. Brantley’s Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 34.) This 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action arises from Defendant Brantley’s use of deadly force during a standoff that resulted in the death of Jerrod Tyre (“Tyre”). (Doc. 1.) Plaintiffs Gary Tyre and Samantha Jacobs filed this lawsuit for damages on July 15, 2016. (Doc. 1.) Gary Tyre is Tyre’s father and Samantha Jacobs is the administrator of Tyre’s estate. (Id.) After Yvonne Gilder-Tyre’s mother-filed a Motion for Joinder, (doc. 9), Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint and named Ms. Gilder as an additional plaintiff, (doc. 12). Plaintiffs assert claims against Defendant pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendant Brantley violated Tyre’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id. at pp. 3–4.) Plaintiffs also seek to recover attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. (Id. at pp. 5–8.)

         Defendant subsequently filed the at-issue Motion for Summary Judgment and argues that Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment claim lacks the necessary evidentiary support and/or is barred by principles of immunity.[2] (Docs. 34, 35.) Plaintiffs filed a Response in opposition, (docs. 41, 42, 43), and Defendant filed a Reply, (doc. 45). For the following reasons, the Court finds that Defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all claims asserted against him in this lawsuit and, therefore, GRANTS Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, (doc. 34). The Court DIRECTS the Clerk of Court to enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal and to CLOSE this case.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are relevant to the disposition of Defendant Brantley’s Motion and are undisputed.

         The events giving rise to this action occurred on July 21, 2015, when the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department dispatched officers to Tyre’s residence. (Doc. 43, p. 9.) The responding officers found Tyre in his yard holding a pistol. (See id., pp. 11, 19–21.) Tyre refused to drop his gun, and a standoff ensued. (Id.) Defendant arrived at the scene roughly twenty minutes after the conflict began, and the standoff ended with Defendant shooting Tyre. (See id., pp. 11, 19–21.)[3]The pertinent details from before and during Defendant’s involvement will be discussed in turn.

         I. Events Occurring Prior to Defendant Brantley’s Arrival

         On July 21, 2015, Tyre’s fiancée called “911” to report an incident of domestic abuse. (Doc. 34-2, p. 1). Officers were dispatched at 7:56 p.m. and told to proceed to 114 Briar Branch Road in Jesup, Georgia-Tyre’s address.[4] (Id. at pp. 1, 10, 16.) At approximately 8:07 p.m., Deputy Kornegay (“Kornegay”) and Deputy Manning (“Manning”) encountered Tyre’s fiancée down the street from Tyre’s home. (Id. at pp. 2, 10.) The deputies spoke with his fiancée for several minutes and arrived at his property around 8:14 p.m. (Id.) Deputy Sloan (“Sloan”) pulled into the driveway first, followed by Kornegay and Manning. (Doc. 35-2, pp. 23–24, 27; Kornegay DCR at 07:57–08:23.)[5] When the officers arrived, Tyre was standing in front of his driveway in a large grassy area and was holding a gun in his right hand. (Kornegay DCR at 08:00–08:23; Figure 1.) Kornegay remained in his vehicle and immediately instructed Tyre to put his gun down while Tyre began to yell at the officers. (Kornegay DCR at 08:20-08:41.) Tyre did not comply, and Kornegay once again urged him to drop his weapon. (Id.) As Tyre continued to shout, Manning and Sloan positioned themselves behind the driver's-side doors of their respective vehicles. (Id at 08:41-10:57; doc. 35-2, pp. 25-27.) Both officers had guns pointed in Tyre's direction; Manning had an M16 rifle and Sloan had his service pistol, a "Glock .40." (Doc. 35-2, pp. 25-27.) (Image Omitted)

         At 8:16 p.m., one of the three officers informed "dispatch" that they were engaged in a standoff with an armed man. (Doc. 34-2, p. 16.) Manning updated dispatch at 8:18 p.m., explaining that Tyre still had the gun but had not pointed it at the officers. (Id; Kornegay DCR at 10:57-10:59.) Manning also requested that the Sheriffs Response Team ("SRT"), a group of specially trained officers that provide tactical support, be activated. (Doc. 35-2, p. 30; see doc. 43, p. 31.) Accordingly, dispatch first contacted Sergeant Robertson ("Robertson"), who was the SRT team leader at the time. (Doc. 35-2, p. 35; doc. 51, p. 47.) Dispatch then called four other SRT officers, including Deputy Bradt (“Bradt”), Deputy Hendricks (“Hendricks”), and Defendant Brantley. (Doc. 34-2, pp. 4, 16.) Hendricks was instructed to pick up the department’s “less lethal” weapons. (Doc. 43, p. 4.) Defendant received his call from dispatch at 8:21 p.m. (Id.)

         Meanwhile, the standoff between Tyre and the officers persisted; the officers continued to ask Tyre to drop his gun while Tyre continued to pace and yell. (See, e.g., Kornegay DCR at 10:59–32:00.) At some point before 8:20 p.m., the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department requested assistance from the Jesup Police Department. (Doc. 43, p. 22; Boyles BCR at 00:00–00:26.) Officer Boyles (“Boyles”) responded and pulled into Tyre’s driveway around 8:21 p.m. (Doc. 43, p. 22; doc. 34-2, p. 11.) Boyles parked his car further down the driveway, behind and to the left of Kornegay’s truck, and walked toward the other officers. (Boyles BCR at 02:39–02:41, 3:27.)

         At some point within the next 12 minutes, two more officers arrived at the scene, and Manning repositioned himself behind his truck. (Id. through 15:27.) One of the two additional officers, Corporal Evors (“Evors”), joined Manning at the back of the truck, and both he and Manning had M16’s pointed at Tyre. (See, e.g., id. at 15:27, 16:58; doc. 43, p. 22; Figure 2.) Deputy Bradt (“Bradt”), a member of the SRT, arrived at approximately 8:36 p.m. (Doc. 43, p. 22.) Bradt parked his truck at the end of the driveway, angled toward Tyre’s position in the grass. (Bradt HCR at 00:00–00:10; Figure 3.) Bradt prepped his rifle and stood behind his truck until Defendant Brantley pulled up about a minute and a half later, at approximately 8:37 or 8:38 p.m. (Bradt HCR at 00:10-1:36; see doc. 34-2, p. 11; doc. 43, p. 7.) (Image Omitted)

         II. Events Occurring After Defendant Brantley’s Arrival

         As noted above, dispatch called Defendant around 8:21 p.m. and informed him that the SRT had been activated. (Doc. 34-2, pp. 4, 16.) Defendant was told that “the shift [] on duty was in a stand-off with a man with a gun . . . [who was] refusing to put it down.” (Id.; doc. 43, p. 16.) When Defendant arrived on scene approximately 16 minutes later, around 8:37 p.m., Tyre continued to yell various expletives at the officers from the grass. (Bradt HCR at 00:10-1:36; see doc. 34-2, p. 11.) Defendant prepared his M16, talked briefly with Bradt, and walked up the driveway toward the other officers. (Bradt HCR at 02:18–02:42.) Defendant stood behind Kornegay’s passenger-side door, immediately to the left of Manning and Evors, and all three officers had M16’s pointed at Tyre. (Id.; Boyles BCR at 18:56–19:01; Figure 4.) At this point, Sloan stood in front of them with his Glock .40. (See, e.g., id.; Kornegay DCR at 32:06; Figure 5.) (Image Omitted)

         A few seconds later, Tyre yelled, "Get the f*** out of here, " and raised his voice even louder to shout, "Get the f*** out my yard!" (Boyles BCR at 19:06-19:07; Kornegay DCR at 32:07-32:09; Bradt HCR at 2:55-2:58; Sloan DCR at 28:43-28:46.) Sloan responded, "It ain't that easy, man, " to which Tyre said, "It is that easy! I'mma walk around there with a loaded gun and start slapping a motherf***er" (Sloan DCR at 28:47-28:53; Kornegay DCR at 32:14-32:17.) Tyre then pointed at Kornegay with his empty hand and said, "You! [inaudible expletives] You think I'm scared of you? I ain't scared of you, " while he walked towards Kornegay's truck with his arms out wide and his pistol in his right hand. (Kornegay DCR at 32:17-25.) After Tyre took eight steps forward, an officer said, "Stop sir." (Id at 32:22-32:25; Figure 5.) Tyre then took three more steps, and the officer again told him to "stop." (Id.) (Image Omitted)

         Tyre stopped and continued to yell for the next forty-five seconds, during which time he asked, "Somebody gonna pop me? Y'all get out here and get with it, " referenced his ".22, " and stated that he had "a right to bear arms." (Id at 32:25-33:10; Sloan DCR at 29:24-29:27 (mentioning his .22).) A few seconds later, Defendant began to speak to Tyre and asked, “What’s your name, sir?” (Boyles BCR at 20:12; doc. 35-1, p. 70.) Tyre first said “it d[idn]’t matter” what his name was, but eventually stated that his name was Jerrod Tyre. (Boyles BCR at 20:13–20:29; Kornegay DCR at 33:17–33:35.) During this time, one of the officers called dispatch and requested that an EMS truck be ready at the end of the road. (Boyles BCR at 20:22.) Tyre yelled for another forty or so seconds, once again stating that he was not afraid of the officers and that he wanted them to leave. (Kornegay DCR at 33:35–34:17.)

         At this point, Defendant and Tyre had a forty-five second exchange that ended when Defendant shot Tyre:

• Defendant: “Listen man, we wanna talk to ya.” (Boyles BCR at 21:17–21:18.)
• Tyre: “No! I’m done talking to y’all, I’ve told y’all to get the f*** out of my yard. Enough!” (Kornegay DCR at 34:19–34:23; Bradt HCR at 5:09–5:12; Sloan BCR at 30:56–31:00.)
• Defendant: “Why don’t you put the weapon down so we can talk to you?” (Kornegay DCR at 34:28–34:30; Boyles BCR at 21:26–21:28.)
• Tyre: “If I talk to you, you’re gonna lock me up regardless of what [expletives] I do with my weapon.” (Bradt HCR at 5:19–5:23; ...

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