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Redmond v. San Francisco Police Dep't

July 17, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Claudia Wilken United States District Judge

ORDER OF SERVICE AND TERMINATING PENDING MOTIONS (Docket nos. 14, 16, 21, 22, 25, 26, 29, 31, 33, 34, 35, 8, 36)


Plaintiff Walter Ray Redmond has filed a pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. Venue is proper in this district as the acts complained of occurred in San Francisco County. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).


According to the allegations in the complaint, Plaintiff was subjected to improper force during the course of his arrest. Plaintiff alleges that on July 15, 2007, he was "consulting with an acquaintance" in downtown San Francisco when a "narco car" carrying four San Francisco narcotics officers pulled up next to him. (Compl. at 3.) The officers rushed out of the vehicle towards Plaintiff. Three of the officers detained him while a fourth officer administered a "full nelson sleeper-hold" from behind, rendering Plaintiff unconscious. (Id.) Plaintiff suggests that the officers were attempting to recover drugs that they believed he had swallowed. Plaintiff claims that he had not swallowed any drugs and that no drugs were found. Plaintiff contends that the officers grew "frantic" because no drugs were found. (Id.) He claims that they tried to coerce him into admitting he had swallowed drugs. He also claims the officers did not read him his Miranda rights. Plaintiff contends that excessive force was used by the officers pursuant to a San Francisco Police Department policy or practice of utilizing excessive force against people of color. (Pl.'s Mot. to Req. All Compl. on Defs. at 3.)

Plaintiff alleges that he suffered from back and neck pain after the encounter. He claims that he made an informal complaint to a physician at San Francisco General Hospital and a formal complaint to the City and County of San Francisco. He seeks declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and monetary damages.


I. Standard of Review

A federal court must conduct a preliminary screening in any case in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). In its review, the court must identify cognizable claims and dismiss any claims that are frivolous, malicious, fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted or seek monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. See id. § 1915A(b)(1),(2). Pro se pleadings must, however, be liberally construed. See Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). To state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege two essential elements: (1) that a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under the color of state law. See West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988).

II. Excessive Force During Arrest

According to the allegations in the complaint, four narcotics officers from the San Francisco Police Department used excessive force against Plaintiff when they arrested him on July 15, 2007.

A claim that a law enforcement officer used excessive force in the course of an arrest or other seizure is analyzed under the Fourth Amendment reasonableness standard. See Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394-95 (1989); Forrester v. City of San Diego, 25 F.3d 804, 806 (9th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 513 U.S. 1152 (1995). "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." See Graham, 490 U.S. at 396 (citations omitted).

Plaintiff claims that three officers held him while a fourth officer choked him unconscious. Liberally construed, Plaintiff's complaint states a cognizable Fourth Amendment claim.

III. Defendants

Liability may be imposed on an individual defendant under § 1983 if the plaintiff can show that the defendant proximately caused the deprivation of a federally protected right. See Leer v. Murphy, 844 F.2d 628, 634 (9th Cir. 1988); Harris v. City of Roseburg, 664 F.2d 1121, 1125 (9th Cir. 1981). A person deprives another of a constitutional right within the meaning of § 1983 if he does an affirmative act, participates in another's affirmative act or omits to perform an act which he is legally required to do, that causes the deprivation of which the plaintiff complains. See Leer, 844 F.2d at 633. The inquiry into causation must be individualized and focus on the duties and responsibilities of each individual defendant whose acts or omissions are alleged to have caused a constitutional deprivation. See id. Sweeping conclusory allegations will not suffice; the plaintiff must instead "set forth specific facts as to each individual defendant's" violation of his protected rights. Id. at 634.

A. Named Defendants

The only person Plaintiff identifies by name is "Officer Fong." ...

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