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Jon Derrick Navarro v. Officers Bryan Sterkel

August 7, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lucy H. Koh United States District Judge

United States District Court For the Northern District of California


20 against Officers Bryan Sterkel, Chris Bell, Mike Garcia, and Chris Pilger of the Santa Clara Police 21

Department, and the City of Santa Clara ("Defendants") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff 22 alleges that he was unreasonably, and therefore unlawfully, detained and arrested by Defendants in 23 violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants used 24 excessive force in the course of the unlawful detention. Before the Court is Defendants' partial 25 motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's wrongful arrest and wrongful detention claims. 26

Defendants have not moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's excessive force claim. 27 28

Plaintiff Jon Derrick Navarro ("Plaintiff" or "Navarro") brings this action seeking damages 2 decision without oral argument. The motion hearing set for August 9, 2012 is VACATED. 3

However, the further case management conference on August 9, 2012 remains as set. Having 4 considered the parties' submissions and arguments as well as the relevant law, the Court GRANTS 5

Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. 6

8 armed robbery had occurred at the intersection of Space Park and Scott Boulevard in Santa Clara, 9

("Bell Dep.") 10:12-19. Officer Sterkel responded to the scene and contacted the victim. Sterkel 11 cer Sterkel that he has been robbed by an armed black man in Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court deems Defendants' motion suitable for


On the night of April 7, 2009, Officer Sterkel was contacted by dispatch and advised that an California. Dep. of Bryan Sterkel ("Sterkel Dep.") 15:25-16:7, 21:4; see also Dep. of Chris Bell 10

Dep. 16:8-14. The victim told Offi 12 his early 20s who was wearing a dark jacket and dark pants. Sterkel Dep. 17:25-18:4. 13

Additionally, the victim informed Officer Sterkel that, after robbing him, the assailant hit him over 14 the head with a gun and fled on foot, heading east on Space Park and then north on Alfred Street. 15

After speaking with the victim, Officer Sterkel then began to drive east on Space Park to

17 survey the area and look for the suspect. Sterkel Dep. 18:18-20, 19:14-24. Almost immediately, 18

25 mile per hour speed limit. Sterkel Dep. 19:8-13, 20:25-21:15. Officer Sterkel quickly became 20 suspicious that this car, which was driving in an industrial area normally desolate at that time of 21 night (10:30 p.m.), might be related to the robbery. Sterkel Dep. 20:25-21:9, 21:16-19. 22

Sterkel Dep. 22:19-23:3. While waiting for results to come back, Officer Sterkel followed the 24

23:4-12. As he was following the Cadillac, Officer Sterkel noticed that it was actually circling the 26 block. Sterkel Dep. 23:13-23; see also Bell Dep. 14:6-13. Additionally, Officer Sterkel noticed 27 that Mr. Navarro was talking on a hand-held radio. Sterkel Dep. 23:13-23; Bell Dep. 14:6-13. 28

United States District Court

Sterkel Dep. 18:9-17, 21:20-22:4. 16

Officer Sterkel noticed a white Cadillac, driven by Plaintiff, moving slowly, well under the posted 19

Accordingly, Officer Sterkel radioed dispatch to run a check on the Cadillac's license plates. 23

Cadillac, as it continued its slow drive through the normally deserted industrial area. Sterkel Dep. 25

2 indicating that they had not been switched, nor was there any indication that the car had been 3 stolen. Sterkel Dep. 22:19-23:3. According to Officer Sterkel, the fact that the license plates 4 matched the Cadillac neither tempered nor heightened his suspicion. Sterkel Dep. 24:10-19. 5

Dispatch reported back to Officer Sterkel that the Cadillac's license plates matched the car,

However, while following the car, Officer Sterkel also observed that Mr. Navarro was dark skinned 6 and wearing a dark jacket and dark beanie. Sterkel Dep. 24:20-25:5. Thus, his appearance was 7 similar to the robbery victim's description of his assailant. Sterkel Dep. 24:20-25:5. This 8 information led Officer Sterkel to become even more suspicious that this car might somehow be 9 related to the robbery. Sterkel Dep. 24:20-25:5. 10

Officer Sterkel continued to follow the Cadillac until it arrived back at the Scott and Space

Park intersection, having completed a full circle of the block. Sterkel Dep. 25:6-17. At that point,

United States District Court

For the Northern District of California

Officer Sterkel decided to make an investigatory car stop, so he activated his police car's solid red 13 lights. Sterkel Dep. 25:12-17. Despite seeing that he was being followed by a police car with its 14 solid lights activated, Mr. Navarro did not pull over. Dep. of Jon Navarro ("Navarro Dep.") 76:1-15

7, 76:20-23; Sterkel Dep. 26:1-19; see Cal. Veh. Code § 2800.1 (West). Officer Sterkel continued 16 to follow Navarro with his solid lights activated for about three-tenths of a mile before activating 17 his flashing lights. Sterkel Dep. 26:8-19. Once the flashing lights were activated, Mr. Navarro 18 pulled over. Sterkel Dep. 26:20-21; Navarro Dep. 79:3-12. 19

20 vehicle, approached the driver's side of the Cadillac on foot. Sterkel Dep. 26:22-27:2. Officer 21

Believing Mr. Navarro to be a suspicious person at that time, Officer Sterkel drew his sidearm as 23 he approached the Cadillac, pursuant to police policy. Sterkel Dep. 28:6-22. 24 At this point, Officer Sterkel and Officer Bell, who had been following in his own police

McElmurry simultaneously approached the passenger's side of the vehicle. Bell Dep. 17:13-22. 22

When he got to the Cadillac, Office Sterkel stood by the rear driver's side door for safety.

Sterkel Dep. 29:3-9. From his vantage point Officer Sterkel had difficulties seeing into the car, 26 particularly into Mr. Navarro's lap or into the passenger's seat, but he could see that Mr. Navarro 27 had what appeared to be a portable radio in his lap. Sterkel Dep. 29:3-9, 29:25-30:3. At that point, 28

Officer Sterkel asked Mr. Navarro to put his hands on the steering wheel. Sterkel Dep. 30:3-5. 2

Mr. Navarro complied. Sterkel Dep. 30:15-17; Navarro Dep. 108:12-16. 3

4 removed his hands from the steering wheel. Navarro Dep. 108:17-24; Sterkel Dep. 30:18-23. Mr. 5

Sterkel ordered Mr. Navarro to put his hands back on the steering wheel. Sterkel Dep. 33:1-4. Mr. 7

Moreover, Mr. Navarro also began fumbling with something in the passenger's ...

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