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Bonilla-Chirinos v. City of West Sacramento

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 25, 2017

GUILLERMO BONILLA-CHIRINOS and SANDRA HERNANDEZ, individually and as guardians ad litem of J.B., a minor, Plaintiffs,



         Plaintiffs Guillermo Bonilla-Chirinos and Sandra Hernandez, individually and on behalf of their son J.B., brought this action against defendants the City of West Sacramento (“the City”) and West Sacramento police officers Kenneth Fellows, Michelle Tate, Anthony Herrera, Thomas Maggiano, Jennifer Grillat, Eric Angle, Matthew Luiz, and David Stallions, [1]alleging, inter alia, that defendants used excessive force in arresting them in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights. (Compl. (Docket No. 1).) Before the court is defendants' Motion for summary judgment. (Defs.' Mot. (Docket No. 31).)

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         On December 12, 2013, defendants approached plaintiffs' residence with warrants for the arrest of Bonilla-Chirinos and Hernandez. (See Decl. of Guillermo Bonilla-Chirinos (“Bonilla-Chirinos Decl.”) ¶¶ 11-12 (Docket No. 35).) The warrants were issued based on an incident that occurred in May 2013 during which Bonilla-Chirinos was involved in a physical altercation with a representative from a repossession company who was attempting to tow his car and Hernandez drove the car away before the representative could tow it. (See Id. ¶¶ 3, 8-11.)

         Upon approaching the front door of plaintiffs' residence, officer Fellows informed Bonilla-Chirinos and Hernandez that defendants were police and had come with warrants for their arrest. (Dep. of Kenneth Fellows at 35.) Hernandez stated that she would not open the door and requested that Fellows read the arrest warrants to her. (Id.) Fellows stated that he would not read the arrest warrants to her, and requested again that she open the door. (Id.) She refused. (Id.) Fellows then kicked the door open. (Id.)

         Bonilla-Chirinos testifies that immediately upon seeing defendants enter his residence, he “got on [his] knees, ” “put [his] hands up in the air, ” and “said ‘I surrender.'” (Bonilla-Chirinos Decl. ¶ 23.) He testifies that despite his surrender, Fellows “rushed up to [him] and basically tackled [him] by grabbing [his] neck and [his] arm . . . and pulling [his] arm behind [his] back, and then slamming [him] face down to the ground while driving [Fellows'] knee very violently and forcefully into the small of [his] back.” (Id.) He testifies that Fellows “is a large and muscular man” and put his “entire body weight into driving his knee into [Bonilla-Chirinos'] back.” (Id.) Bonilla-Chirinos testifies that he “did not resist the arrest in any way.” (Id.)

         Hernandez testifies that officer Tate placed her under arrest by “violently grabb[ing], pull[ing, ] and twist[ing her] right arm behind [her] back, ” then placing handcuffs on her. (Decl. of Sandra Hernandez (“Hernandez Decl.”) ¶ 10 (Docket No. 36).) She testifies that the handcuffs “were much too tight and . . . were hurting [her] wrists, ” and Tate refused to loosen them when she asked her to do so. (Id.) Hernandez testifies that she also “did not resist arrest in any way.” (Id.)

         During the arrest, defendants had their guns drawn. (Dep. of Michelle Tate at 23.) Hernandez testifies that at one point during the arrest, officer Herrera pointed his gun at J.B., who was four years old at the time. (Hernandez Decl. ¶ 11.)

         Hernandez also testifies that after she was placed under arrest, she asked officers Tate and Maggiano if she could call a relative to come pick J.B. up from their residence, and Tate and Maggiano denied her request. (Id. ¶ 15.)

         After the arrest, defendants transported plaintiffs to a police station. (Dep. of Sandra Hernandez (“Hernandez Dep.”) at 116.) After arriving at the police station, defendants sent J.B. to stay with relatives. (See Id. at 129-30.) Hernandez was released from the police station approximately nine hours later, at which time she picked J.B. up from the relatives. (See Id. at 130-32.) Bonilla-Chirinos was released from the police station shortly thereafter. (See Id. at 130-31.)

         Plaintiffs filed this action in December 2015. (Compl.) Citing the above facts and testimony, they bring the following causes of action against defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“section 1983”)[2]: (1) use of excessive force in arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment, (2) unreasonable search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, (3) unjustified invasion of privacy in violation of the Fourth Amendment, (4) deprivation of the right to remain silent in violation of the Fifth Amendment, and (5) deprivation of familial association in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Am. Compl. at 5-10 (Docket No. 14).) Defendants now move for judgment as to each of plaintiffs' claims. (Defs.' Mot.)

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A material fact is one that could affect the outcome of the action, and a genuine issue is one for which a reasonable jury could find in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). It can satisfy that burden by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the non-moving party's case or demonstrating that the non-moving party cannot produce evidence to support an essential element for which it will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id.

         Once the moving party meets its burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to “designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue [of material fact] for trial.” Id. at 324. The non-moving party must “do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). “The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence . . . will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         In deciding a summary judgment motion, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Id. at 255. “Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury ...

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