Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mitchell v. Albright

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

August 29, 2016

ZACH ALBRIGHT, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Travon Mitchell brought this action against the City of Sikeston, Missouri, and two Sikeston police officers, defendants Zach Albright and Franklin Adams. This matter is before the Court on the City of Sikeston and Albright's motions for summary judgment (#48, #31). The matter has been fully briefed and is now ripe for disposition.

         I. Factual Background[1]

         On April 19, 2014, at 12:05 a.m., Sikeston police officer and nonparty Justin James received a call about suspicious activity reported by an individual who stated he observed three people in a red car with Missouri license plate number DL9A8U. Officer James drove to the location of the reported suspicious activity and observed a red Cobalt with Missouri license plate DL9A8U turning and heading north at high speed. James was at the time heading southbound, so he made a U-turn and turned on his lights and sirens. Plaintiff was one of two passengers in the red Cobalt with Missouri plate DL9A8U, which was being driven by Aaron Allen. Upon seeing Officer James's police vehicle lights, Allen started driving faster, fleeing Officer James's vehicle. Allen took the officer on a high speed chase through a neighborhood, running stop signs and eventually hitting the brakes to avoid another police vehicle that was blocking the road. That other police vehicle was being driven by defendant Sikeston Police Officer Zach Albright. All three occupants of the red Cobalt took off running from the vehicle. Officer James ran after an individual who ran toward apartment buildings nearby; defendant Officer Franklin Adams drove toward the apartments and stopped where Officer James was located near the apartments. Officer James lost sight of the individual among the apartment buildings. Defendant Adams deployed his police dog, Levi, to try to track the individual whom Officer James had been pursuing.

         Levi tracked for about 100 to 150 feet and stopped at the door of one of the buildings, but defendant Adams and Levi had to leave that location to assist the search for the individual defendant Albright had been pursuing. Officer James stayed at the location where Levi had led him, but he later returned to the red Cobalt, where he located a .40 caliber handgun loaded with .40 caliber hollow point ammunition.

         Meanwhile, defendant Albright pursued plaintiff, who was wearing black jeans and a black hoodie, through yards and fields and then through an alleyway. At some point plaintiff decided to turn around. He was in the backyard at 202 West Gladys and headed toward the street when he saw several police officers on West Gladys, so he slid between the house and a bush that was located in the side yard. Albright lost sight of plaintiff and called for Adams and Levi.

         Defendant Adams deployed Levi from the patrol car. At that time, Adams had heard that a handgun had been found in the red Cobalt. Adams, Albright, and Levi proceeded towards the residence next to which plaintiff was hiding. At the rear of the residence, Levi started to track one of the individuals who had fled from the Cobalt. Levi tracked the individual through several backyards before doubling back to the residence at 202 West Gladys where plaintiff was hiding. Adams and Levi walked past plaintiff behind his bush twice. The dog went toward the bush, sniffed, and stood straight up. Adams said “we got them. We found them.” Plaintiff says that he rolled over onto his stomach beside the bush and that he heard Adams say something to the dog and that the dog started growling. Plaintiff says Adams commanded “Packen, ” which is the German language command for the dog to bite. Levi bit plaintiff on his upper right thigh and dragged him two or three feet to the middle of the sideyard.

         The parties dispute what happened next. Plaintiff says that Levi bit him for four to five minutes while the police officers watched and did nothing to stop it. Defendants say that plaintiff hit Levi on the nose, that Adams ordered Levi to stop, and that the dog released plaintiff after 10-15 seconds.

         Officers helped plaintiff get up and had paramedics examine the plaintiff's injuries. Paramedics told the officers that plaintiff needed to go to the hospital, and an ambulance took him to the hospital, where plaintiff received stitches and other treatment for his wounds.

         Plaintiff was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police dog. He pleaded guilty to resisting arrest but the assault on the police dog charge was dismissed.

         Plaintiff filed this action under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 claiming in Count I that defendants Albright and Adams violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force and failing to intervene to prevent the use of excessive force against him, and in Count II that the City of Sikeston showed deliberate indifference to the rights of others in adopting unlawful customs or policies and failing to train its officers adequately.

         Defendants Albright and the City of Sikeston have moved for summary judgment on the Counts against them.

         II. Legal Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a district court may grant a motion for summary judgment if all of the information before the court demonstrates that “there is no genuine issue as to material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Poller v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc., 368 U.S. 464, 467 (1962). The burden is on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Assoc. Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). After the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must do more than show that there is some doubt as to the facts. Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the nonmoving party bears the burden of setting forth specific facts showing that there is sufficient evidence in its favor to allow a jury to return a verdict for it. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).

         In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must review the facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion and give that party the benefit of any inferences that logically can be drawn from those facts. Buller v. Buechler, 706 F.2d 844, 846 (8th Cir. 1983). The court is required to resolve all conflicts of evidence in favor of the nonmoving party. Robert Johnson Grain Co. v. Chem. Interchange Co., 541 F.2d 207, 210 (8th Cir. 1976).

         III. Discussion

         A. Defendant Zach Albright

         Plaintiff claims that defendant Albright used excessive force against plaintiff and that he failed to intervene to prevent the use of excessive force against plaintiff.

         1.Excessive ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.