United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT RE: DKT.
WILLIAM H. ORRICK United States District Judge
Jose Luis Godoy, L.M., K.A., and J.C. allege that they were
unlawfully detained and subject to excessive force by
defendants County of Sonoma and Officers Dylan Fong, Dave
Pedersen, and Matthew Lupton in retaliation for
plaintiffs’ protests over the death of their friend,
Andy Lopez. However, the undisputed facts establish that
defendants detained plaintiffs as a result of a 911 call
unrelated to the protests and did not use unreasonable force
during the incident. I heard argument on defendants’
motions for summary judgment on July 6, 2016 and now GRANT
defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
were part of a group called “Andy’s Youth,
” composed of Sonoma County residents that participated
in protests over the killing of Andy Lopez. Third Amended
Complaint (“TAC”) ¶ 20 [Dkt. No. 72].
Id. Officer Fong was aware that individuals who were
a part of “Andy’s Youth” were present at
most of the rallies that occurred after Lopez’s death,
although he did not know any particular members of that
group. Fong Depo. at 35:12-17, 23-24.
January 9, 2014, a motorist reported that a Hispanic male
driving a black Suburban with a partial license plate 5CY__
had brandished a silver firearm at the driver while traveling
in the opposite direction. Freeman Decl., Exh. A at COS00029
[“Fong Incident Report”]. A “be on the
lookout” (“BOLO”) was issued for a black
Suburban with that partial plate. At approximately 5:30 pm,
Deputy Lupton broadcasted that he had observed the vehicle
but lost it. During the time the BOLO was in force, the Santa
Rosa Police Department conducted a photo lineup for the
victim. Freeman Decl., Exh. A at COS00004-25. The victim
identified Godoy as the individual who had allegedly
brandished the weapon. Id.
day Fong was partnered with Officer Ball. Fong Incident
Report. They learned that Godoy had a black Chevy Suburban
with a license plate that began with 5CY. Id. While
on their way to an unrelated incident, the officers spotted
the black Chevy Suburban parked on the wrong side of the
street. Id. Fong observed a group of people walking
away from the vehicle and recognized Godoy walking in the
middle of the group. Id. Fong knew of Godoy from
seeing him in the media and from his booking photographs.
Fong Depo. at 21:24-22:3. Fong observed Godoy gesture with
one arm as if he were attempting to alarm the vehicle. Fong
Incident Report. He then observed the hazard lights flash on
the parked car. Fong Incident Report; see also Dkt.
No. 100, Exh. 11 (depicting plaintiffs gathering items from
the parked car and the lights flashing on the vehicle as they
determined at this point that Godoy and the other people
present with him may have been the suspects related to the
BOLO. Id. He illuminated them with his bright spot
lamp, exited the vehicle, and yelled “get on the
ground!” and “get on the f-ing ground!”
Freeman Decl., Exh. D. 84:15-86:10; Exh. E 78:6-79:3. Ball
also gave loud commands to get on the floor. Fong Incident
Report. Fong called for back-up while the officers continued
to hold the individuals on the ground until back-up arrived.
Id. Back-up arrived within several minutes.
Id. Meanwhile, a crowd of at least twenty bystanders
gathered at the scene. L.M. Depo. at 49:12-21 [Dkt. Nos. 90,
Exh. D; 92-5].
GODOY’S DETENTION 
that afternoon, plaintiffs had been making posters related to
their protest activities. Immediately prior to the incident,
L.M., J.C., K.A., and Godoy arrived at L.M.’s
parents’ home. Godoy had just parked his car and was
crossing the street when a patrol car pulled up with its two
bright spot lights on. Godoy Depo. at 56:10-13, 21-25 [Dkt.
Nos. 90, Exh. G; 92-6]. Within a couple of seconds of hearing
the officers’ commands to get down, he laid down on the
street, with the front half of his body behind a parked car.
Id. at 60:17-22.
“a couple of minutes” on the ground he saw
additional officers arrive. Id. at 64:19-21. He
believes he was the first person from the group to get
handcuffed. Id. at 68:16-18. He was approached by
two officers, one who he thinks was Fong and another
unidentified officer. Id. at 69: 9-14. Godoy also
observed the two officers carrying guns before his handcuffs
were applied. Id. at 94:10-14. At the time of his
handcuffing, Godoy had his arms out to his side. Id.
at 86:4-6. One officer grabbed his wrist “hard”
and put it behind his back and did the same with the other
wrist. Id. at 89:12-16. Another officer, who Godoy
“is going to say” was Fong, put his knee on
Godoy’s back. Id. at 86:13-20. He felt pain in
the middle of his back when the knee was place there, which
he approximates lasted about 20 seconds. Id. at
90:16-91:7. One of the two officers involved in the
handcuffing asked Godoy, “You think you’re tough
now?” Id. at 84:19-85:1. Once he was
handcuffed, he was turned over by the officers and placed on
his back. Id. at 93:4-12. At some point while Godoy
was handcuffed and on his back, Officer Fong placed his hand
on Godoy’s chest right below his neck. Id. at
arrived on scene after Fong and Ball. Godoy recognized Lupton
from previously seeing him “at court.”
Id. at 98:15-99:6. Godoy remembers reading
Lupton’s name badge during at least one prior
interaction that happened in a courtroom. Id. at
100:10-17. Godoy testified that although the courtroom
interaction primarily involved Lupton and a third party,
Lupton’s “body expression, ” including the
way he held his gun, made Godoy feel like he was antagonizing
him. Id. at 102: 5-14. Godoy may have called Lupton
a “bitch” during that encounter. Id. at
Godoy was being handcuffed, he saw Lupton pointing his gun at
him from about ten to fifteen feet away. Id. at
104:13-19. Lupton was standing behind a parked car, with only
his upper body exposed. Id. at 105:21-106:11.
Godoy’s deposition testimony concerning whether Lupton
continued to point his gun at Godoy after he was handcuffed
is inconclusive and inconsistent. When asked whether he ever
saw guns pointed at him after he was ordered down on the
ground, Godoy responded that he did not remember.
Id. at 95:18-23. Four minutes later, however, when
asked whether he saw any law enforcement officers point a gun
at him after he was handcuffed, Godoy answered,
“I’m going to say yes” and identified
Lupton as someone who did so. Id. at 97:22-98:10.
But shortly thereafter, when Godoy was asked whether he ever
saw Lupton after he pointed his gun at Godoy from behind the
parked car, which occurred while Godoy was being handcuffed,
Godoy said that he “just [didn’t]
remember.” Id. at 106:9-17.
Godoy was handcuffed, he walked towards the squad car with
the officers “dragging” him. Id. at
109:1-5. They then “placed” or
“slammed” him on the trunk of the car and
searched him by patting him down and taking everything out of
his pockets. Id. at 110:5-22. After he was searched
he was instructed to sit in the squad car, by placing one
foot in at a time. Id. at 114:10-14. Because he did
not do so fast enough he was “shoved” in.
Id. As a result of this shove, he hit his head on
the door frame. Id. at 122:20-123:4.
the patrol car, Godoy told the officers he needed an
ambulance because of his thyroid condition, which raises his
blood pressure and makes his heart race in stressful
conditions. Id. at 115:2-116:4. An ambulance arrived
and the medical personnel checked him and told him he was
okay. Id. at 117:12-19. He did not tell medical
personal about any pain or injuries stemming from his
detention. Id. at 123:5-7.
L.M. first got out of the car, she did not see any law
enforcement vehicles. L.M. Depo. at 87:7-89:15 [Dkt. Nos. 90,
Exh. D; 92-5]. L.M. walked to her parents’ home and
then after about a minute, she walked back to where the
Suburban had been parked. About a minute after that, a patrol
vehicle pulled up with its spotlights on. Because the bright
lights were pointed at her, she could not see the officers
clearly and was not sure what was going on. Id. at
84:15-25. When she was first ordered to put her hands up she
thought somebody was just “playing around.”
Id. at 85:12-15. But after hearing the command
repeated and hearing Godoy’s instruction to do so, she
lay on her stomach with hands behind her head. Id.
at 89:6-10. Once on the ground, she could see that two
officers were pointing guns at them. Id. at
85:17-20. She also remembers seeing “a lot of people,
” at least twenty, on the street during the incident.
Id. at 49:12-21.
the ground, an officer came to search her bag. Id.
at 89:16-90:6. Later Lupton, whom she had seen on an earlier
occasion, handcuffed her. Id. 92:21-94:2; Mendoza
Decl. ¶ 4 [Dkt. No. 93]. He did so by taking her right
hand from the back of her head to behind her back and doing
the same with her left hand. Id. at 91:2-18. At
first Lupton put on one set of cuffs, but it was too tight
for her so he put on two. Id. at 97:16-98:1. Instead
of having both arms in one set, she had one arm in one set
and the other arm in another set and the sets were connected
together in the middle. Id. at 97:16-20. Lupton then
instructed her how to get up and she did so on her own.
Id. at 98:5-99:10. Once she was standing, another
officer walked her over to a patrol car and instructed her to
stand near the bumper. Id. at 99:3-10. She told an
officer nearby that her handcuffs were too tight and the
officer loosened them for her. Id. at 102:17-24. She
was required to wait near the bumper of the patrol car for
“more than 30 minutes.” Id. at
time later, Officer Pederson, whom L.M. recognized because he
was her brother’s parole officer and she had seen him
at a protest, approached her. Id. at 104:16-105:7.
He took photographs of her, asked for her name and address,
and told her he was going to put her in the gang
“system.” Id. at 106:21-107:2.
the incident, L.M. saw a doctor somewhere between four and
ten times for back pain on her right side. Id. at
was walking to L.M.’s house when the patrol car
arrived. K.A. Depo. at 78:4-10 [Dkt. Nos. 90, Exh. E; 92-8].
K.A. heard multiple commands to get on the floor.
Id. at 78:22-79:18. Because of the bright light
being shined in her direction, she could not see the officers
or what they were doing at that time. Id. at
82:8-13. From her experience watching cop shows, she knew
that the right thing to do at that moment was to lay down on
her stomach, which she ...