Gregg Thornton Obtains Judgment For Suisun City

Suisun City Police Officers witnessed plaintiff riding his bicycle in the middle of the street at night, without any forward facing white light or rearward facing red reflector, in violation of California Vehicle Code section 21201. The officers originally intended to conduct a vehicle stop, merely to advise plaintiff that he was engaging in a moving violation, and to instruct him to remedy the situation.

When the officers contacted the plaintiff, the plaintiff quickly became verbally abusive toward the officers, refused to get off his bicycle and refused to move from the center of the road to the curb. The officers told the plaintiff that if he did not comply and move to the curb, he would be arrested for refusing to comply with police instructions. Then, the plaintiff resisted more aggressively by slamming his bicycle down to the ground and asking the officers if they wanted to "box." It was then that the officers informed the plaintiff that he was under arrest for obstruction. As the group began to move to the curb, the plaintiff became physically aggressive, attempted to strike one of the officers and then attempted to avoid being placed in handcuffs. The officers then had probable cause to arrest the plaintiff for resisting. Once the plaintiff was under control, the officers searched his person incident to arrest.

When the plaintiff was placed in a patrol car to be transported to jail, he complained of shortness of breath. In response, the plaintiff was taken to the hospital to be assessed, where he was cleared for jail. At the jail, the plaintiff was cited and released. Ultimately, the District Attorney elected not to prosecute. Plaintiff then filed suit for violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, claiming unlawful arrest, excessive force and unlawful search. Plaintiff also sued for violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The City of Suisun City and its police officers brought a motion for summary judgment, on a number of grounds. The United States District Court, for the Eastern District of California, granted the motion for summary judgment, in its entirety. First, the court found that, in light of the undisputed facts, the arrests were proper. Next, the court found that the officers only used that amount of force, which was reasonable under the circumstances, to gain control of the plaintiff and place him in handcuffs. Then, the court found that the search of the plaintiff's person was properly conducted incident to arrest. Finally, the court concluded that there was no evidence to support any claim for a Fourteenth Amendment violation. 

Judgment has been entered in favor of all defendants and against the plaintiff.


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