United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT RE: DKT. NOS. 76,
ILLSTON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a pro se civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 in which Mario Torres asserts claims for relief based on
his 2012 arrest in Concord, California. Defendants now move
for summary judgment on the merits of Torres' claims and
on their defense of qualified immunity. Torres opposes the
motion. For the reasons discussed below, defendants'
motion for summary judgment will be granted as to the false
arrest, false imprisonment, and Monell claims, and
denied as to all other claims. The case will be referred to
the Pro Se Prisoner Mediation Program, and the court
will set some discovery-related deadlines.
Statement Of Facts
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted:
events and omissions giving rise to the complaint occurred on
July 4, 2012, in Concord, California. The individual
defendants are Concord police officers Daniel Smith and Mike
Hansen, who arrested Torres that day. The municipal
defendant, Concord Police Department, is sued on a
Monell theory of liability.
The Entry Into The Apartment
4, 2012, officers Smith and Hansen were dispatched to an
apartment on Mohr Lane in Concord to respond to a report
“of a fight or neighbors fighting.” Docket No.
76-2 at 6. The parties present no further evidence
about the particulars of the citizen's call to the police
(such as whether the caller saw or heard anyone being hit) or
the dispatcher's statements to the responding officers.
The parties present no evidence about any efforts by officers
Smith and Hansen to speak to the 911 caller or anyone other
than Torres upon their arrival at the scene.
officers Smith and Hansen arrived at the apartment, they
knocked on the door several times and no one answered for a
“couple of minutes.” Docket No. 76-2 at 78.
Eventually, Torres came to the door and “cracked
open” the door about six inches, stuck his head out,
and then immediately stepped outside the door so the door was
“right at [his] back.” Docket No. 76-2 at 5, 79.
To officer Smith, Torres “appeared agitated based on
his tone and his demeanor.” Docket No. 76-2 at 6.
the officers told Torres they had received a “domestic
violence disturbance call” or a “domestic
call” or a “domestic disturbance” call -
Torres was unsure which it was -- and they needed to enter
the apartment. Docket No. 76-2 at 31. Torres initially
“said nothing is going on here, ” but then said,
“‘You know what, there was a verbal argument with
my girlfriend.'” Docket No. 76-2 at 31. The officer
said they needed to come into the home to check, but Torres
refused to allow entry without a warrant. Docket No. 76-2 at
31. One of the officers said: “‘We need to come
in. Right now we got to check to see if she's
okay.'” Docket No. 76-2 at 31. According to Torres,
he let the officers follow him into the apartment because the
officers were aggressive and stating that “it's the
law” that he had to let them in even though they had no
warrant. Docket No. 76-2 at 32.
The Arrest And Uses Of Force
parties agree that there were three uses of force after the
officers entered the home: (1) near the door of the
apartment, (2) during handcuffing in the kitchen, and (3)
during fingerprinting later at the police station. The
parties disagree about the amount of force used and the
circumstances surrounding the uses of force.
to Torres, as soon as officers Hansen and Smith entered the
apartment following him, the two officers “beat”
Torres with batons from behind him. Docket No. 18 at 10;
Docket No. 76-2 at 35.
provides this account of the force used during handcuffing in
the kitchen: He landed on his stomach in the kitchen as a
result of being beaten by the officers. Docket No. 76-2 at
36. Officer Hansen got on top of Torres and jabbed Torres in
the back of the head with a baton. Id. at 37. Torres
grabbed the baton from officer Hansen; Hansen then reclaimed
the baton, handcuffed Torres, and turned him over.
Id. at 38-46. Officer Smith was nearby, conversing
with Betty Zierke (Torres' girlfriend), who had come down
the stairs in the apartment. Id. at 48-49. Torres
eventually was arrested and transported to the Concord Police
Department without further incident. See Id. at 61.
Although he hurled insults and racial slurs at the officers,
Torres denies that he resisted the police during the episode.
Id. at 56-57, 63.
provides this account of the force used during
fingerprinting: He was taken to the Concord police station,
where a female officer tried to fingerprint him as officer
Smith stood nearby. When the female officer grabbed
Torres' hand to fingerprint it, he pulled it away quickly
and said his hand might be broken. Docket No. 76-2 at 66-67.
Officer Smith twisted Torres' other arm to get him to
lean forward while the female officer slammed his injured
hand on the fingerprinting machine. Id. at 67-68.
Torres untwisted his arm from officer Smith's grip and
pulled his left hand away from the female officer.
Id. at 70-71. Suddenly, Torres ended up on his
stomach on the floor, where he was beaten by officers.
Id. at 71. Although he could not see who was beating
him, he believes it was officer Smith who grabbed his arm
from behind and twisted it until Torres submitted and
stopped. Id. at 72. Torres states that he did not
resist during the incident at the police station.
Id. at 72.
was charged with several crimes based on the events of July
4, 2012, including battery on a spouse or cohabitant (Cal.
Penal Code §§ 242/243(e)(1)), obstructing/resisting
an executive officer with force or violence (id. at
§ 69), battery upon an officer and emergency personnel
(id. at §§ 242/243(b)), and resisting,
delaying or obstructing a peace officer (id. at
§ 148(a)(1)). Docket No. 76-3 at 3-4. He also was
charged with several other crimes against other people that
occurred on different dates. Docket No. 76-3 at 1-7.
Eventually, a plea deal was reached to dispose of several
criminal charges pending against Torres. Id. at
20-23. As to the events on July 4, 2012, Torres pled guilty
to a violation of California Penal Code section 69.
Id. at 25. The following occurred at the negotiated
THE COURT: And then Count Seven is a felony violation of
Penal Code section 69, resisting an executive officer,
alleging that on or about July 4th, 2012, at Concord, in
Contra Costa County, that you, Mario Torres, did willfully
and unlawfully attempt, by means of threats and violence, to
deter and prevent Officer Daniel Smith, who was an executive
officer, from performing a duty imposed upon the officer by
law and knowingly resisted by the use of force and violence
and by means of threats of violence the executive officer in
the performance of duty. What is your plea?
THE DEFENDANT: Guilty.
Docket No. 76-3 at 16-17. Torres received a prison term for
his Penal Code section 69 conviction. See Docket No.
76-3 at 25 (abstract of judgment); Docket No. 99-1 at 2-5
(2nd amended abstract of judgment).
Concord Police Department Monell Evidence
present more than 40 pages of training logs from the Concord
Police Department showing substantial individual training
activity for officers Smith and Hansen. Docket No. 76-4 at
2-45. The training logs show that officers Smith and Hansen
both received training before July 4, 2012, that included
training in domestic violence situations and uses of force.
present the Concord Police Department's “use of
force policy.” Docket No. 76-4 at 47-52. That policy
states that “[i]t is the policy of the Concord Police
Department to use force only as reasonable.”
Id. at 47. The policy elaborates on the use of force
and includes a section providing that all uses of force will
be reviewed by the Department. Id. at 49.
present the Concord Police Department's “Use of
Force Review Board” report that concluded that the uses
of force by officers Smith and Hansen appear to have been
within guidelines. Docket No. 76-4 at 54-69. The force
reviewed consisted of a “distraction strike” and
“impact weapon” used by officer Smith,
id. at 55, and an “impact weapon” used
by officer Hansen, id. at 56.
The Claims To Be Adjudicated
court earlier determined that the third amended complaint
stated the following claims: (1) a claim against officers
Hansen and Smith for an unreasonable search under the Fourth
Amendment based on the warrantless entry of the residence;
(2) a claim against officers Hansen and Smith for the use of
excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment based on
three uses of force (i.e., beating Torres upon entry into the
residence, after he was handcuffed, and when he was at the
police station); (3) a claim against officers Hansen and
Smith for false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
(4) a claim against officers Hansen and Smith for false
imprisonment based on Torres' detention after his arrest;
and (5) a Monell claim against the Concord Police
Department based on the alleged failure to train and
supervise officers and failure to properly investigate police
misconduct. See Docket No. 21.
now move for summary judgment against Torres. Defendants
attack Torres' Fourth Amendment claims with a
Heck argument, urging that his Fourth Amendment
claims must be rejected because success on any of those
claims would undermine the validity of Torres' conviction
for obstructing/resisting an executive officer with force or
violence. Next, defendants argue that the two officers are
entitled to qualified immunity against those same Fourth
Amendment claims. Finally, defendants argue that the Concord
Police Department is entitled to judgment as a matter of law
on the Monell claim because Torres has no proof to
support his allegations.
STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
judgment is proper where the pleadings, discovery, and
affidavits show that there is “no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and [that] the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A
court will grant summary judgment “against a party who
fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence
of an element essential to that party's case, and on
which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial . . .
since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential
element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders
all other facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A fact is material
if it might affect the outcome of the suit under governing
law, and a dispute about a material fact is genuine “if
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
the moving party bears the initial burden of identifying
those portions of the record which demonstrate the absence of
a genuine issue of material fact. The burden then shifts to
the nonmoving party to “go beyond the pleadings and by
[his or her] own affidavits, or by the ‘depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,'
designate ‘specific ...