The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Roger T. Benitez United States District Judge
(1) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OF ARREST, [Doc. # 73];
(2) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OF OTHER ARRESTS, [Doc. # 74]; and GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION IN LIMINE TO EXCLUDE EVIDENCE OF PROBATION VIOLATIONS, [Doc. # 75]
This case arose out of an arrest and detention of Plaintiff John Hale ("Plaintiff" or "Hale"). The trial is scheduled to start on January 16, 2008. On November 9, 2007, Plaintiff filed in limine motions. Having received no opposition, the Court issued rulings on December 6, 2007. Also on December 6, 2007, Defendants filed their oppositions to Plaintiff's motions. On December 13, 2007, Defendants filed their replies. In the interests of justice, the Court will consider the oppositions and replies.
Plaintiff alleges as following: he was a passenger in a car driven by his friend. (Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"), ¶¶ 13). The car was pulled over for speeding, and the driver was arrested for driving under the influence. (SAC, ¶ 13-14). Plaintiff got out of the car and asked if the car could be left at his home, which was one block away. (SAC, ¶ 16). The deputy sheriff*fn1 said that the car would be impounded. (SAC, ¶ 16). Plaintiff and the deputy engaged in an argument, and the deputy arrested Plaintiff. Id.
After his arrest, Plaintiff was taken to the San Diego jail and booked. (SAC, ¶ 17). When Plaintiff was walking to his cell, a deputy sheriff crumpled up a sheet of paper and threw it at Plaintiff. (SAC, ¶ 19). The paper ball hit Plaintiff. Id. Plaintiff picked up the paper and tossed it back through the door. (SAC, ¶ 20). Defendants deputy sheriffs Gabriel Gil ("Gil") and Joshua Weber ("Weber," collectively "Defendants") ran toward Plaintiff, pushed him down, and beat him, striking him on the face, head and body. (SAC, ¶21). Plaintiff was knocked unconscious. Id. He was then hogtied by another individual, no longer a defendant in this action. Plaintiff received lacerations on his chin and forehead which required stitches. The Second Amended Complaint asserts violations of the Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and violations of the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments under the California Civil Rights Act.
I. Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Evidence of the Arrest
This motion remains denied. Plaintiff moves to exclude any evidence related to the circumstances of the traffic stop and his arrest. Plaintiff acknowledges and is willing to stipulate that he "was arrested for being drunk in public and resisting arrest." (Pl.'s Mot. at 1). Plaintiff argues, however, that his "drunken conduct" during the traffic should be not used "to dirty him up in front of the jury." (Id. at 3).
Defendants intend to prove the following. At the time of the traffic stop, Plaintiff was intoxicated. He yelled at the deputies at the scene and interfered with their duties. After a warning that he could be arrested for being drunk in public, Plaintiff was in fact arrested around 2:50 p.m. He continued to be verbally abusive and combative. When at 3:40 p.m. on the same day Plaintiff's booking photograph was taken at the jail, he did not stop arguing and threatening the deputies.
Once booked, Plaintiff threw something at the California Highway Patrol officer with whom Plaintiff had been arguing earlier. Then Plaintiff proceeded to his cell where Defendant Deputy Gil was waiting for him. Gil commanded Plaintiff to do something as Plaintiff was walking by, but Plaintiff did not comply. Plaintiff was also verbally threatening Gil. Plaintiff then made a sudden movement which Gil perceived as a threat. Gil grabbed Plaintiff and tried to hold him against the wall. Plaintiff started to fight.
Plaintiff denies any allegations of belligerence at the time of the incident in the jail, which took place around 4:50 p.m. Plaintiff provided a video from the jail closed-circuit monitoring system. As a preliminary matter, the video is not properly authenticated. It is accompanied by a Notice of Lodgment, but no declaration from counsel regarding its origin. In addition, the video does not offer any conclusive evidence regarding the incident. The video has no sound. The tape shows the same sequence of events from different angles. The different excerpts can be connected only by the passage of time marked on the screen. The quality of the tape does not allow to make out the details in the background.
The video shows the following from one of the angles: Plaintiff is walking through a doorway toward the holding cells, approaching the viewer. He then picks something up and tosses it back through the doorway from which he came. Plaintiff then puts his hands in his pockets and walks down the hallway, disappearing from sight. A deputy runs toward Plaintiff and also disappears from sight.
From another angle, the video picks up when a deputy runs toward Plaintiff, and both appear to come down on the floor fighting. More officers arrive. Plaintiff and the officers are shown from a distance, in the background. The quality of the video does not allow the viewer to see the details. It is hard to see who is fighting whom or how hard. One cannot tell whether Plaintiff is still intoxicated or hostile to the deputies. The absence of sound also leaves room for interpretation. In sum, the video itself does not conclusively establish that Plaintiff was provoked by deputies or that he was attacked by deputies without any provocation on his part.
As this Court stated before, the evidence of Plaintiff's condition is relevant and probative. Relevant evidence "may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury." Fed. R. Evid. 403. The events described in the SAC are close in time to the stop and arrest and are likely to be parts of the same continuous conduct. Therefore the evidence of Plaintiff's condition and behavior at the time of the arrest may aid the jury in determining ...