United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
TINA MOORE, individually and as Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF JASON MOORE, et al., Plaintiffs,
CITY OF FERGUSON, MISSOURI, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
decedent, Jason Moore, died during an altercation with police
in Ferguson, Missouri. Plaintiffs are decedent's
relatives; they have filed this lawsuit against the City of
Ferguson, Officer Brian Kaminski in his official and
individual capacities, and Thomas Jackson in his official
capacity as Chief of Police for the Ferguson Police
Department. Defendants have filed a motion for summary
judgment (#62). The matter has been fully briefed and is now
ripe for disposition.
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise
indicated. Jason Moore was a 31-year-old man weighing
approximately 135 pounds when he encountered police in the
early morning of September 17, 2011. Mr. Moore was near his
Ferguson, Missouri home when he took his clothes off and ran
naked down the street yelling “God is good, ”
“glory to God, ” and “I am Jesus.”
Several 911 calls were made by individuals nearby, and
Ferguson Police Department officers were dispatched.
Officer Kaminski was first on the scene. As Kaminski arrived
in the area, he was flagged by a woman in a vehicle who
advised Kaminski that the naked individual was nearby at the
intersection of Airport Road and Henquin. Officer Kaminski
proceeded to that area and saw Mr. Moore, naked, walking from
behind a building and standing near the curb of Airport Road.
There was light traffic on the roadway, and it was just
Kaminski walked toward Mr. Moore and ordered him to come to
Kaminski, away from the street. Then he ordered Mr. Moore to
stop and get on the ground. Instead, Mr. Moore began running
at Kaminski, swinging his fists aggressively in a pinwheel
motion. Kaminski stepped backwards, but Mr. Moore
continued to advance aggressively, so the officer unholstered
his Taser and gave a third command to stop or else Moore
would be Tased. Mr. Moore continued to aggressively move
toward Officer Kaminski, so Kaminski deployed the Taser. The
Taser shot two metal darts or probes at Mr. Moore and,
although Kaminski could not see exactly where the darts
landed, they attached at Moore's right chest and his leg.
Kaminski had been aiming at the right side of Mr. Moore's
body, near his hip. The Taser darts delivered a 50, 000-volt
shock that lasting five seconds. Mr. Moore fell forward onto
the ground. Kaminski commanded Mr. Moore to stay on the
ground, but Moore attempted to rise up. Kaminski applied
another Taser cycle.
Officer White arrived just after Kaminski applied the second
Taser cycle. He heard Kaminski giving orders to Moore to stay
down, and he saw Moore trying to get back up. Although
plaintiffs dispute just how far up Mr. Moore managed to move
before being Tased again, plaintiffs appear to agree Moore
raised himself up at least 6 inches. Moore was also yelling
something indecipherable. Kaminski recalls Tasing Mr. Moore a
third time, at which time White was able to handcuff Mr.
Taser device data is somewhat helpful. The Taser's data
shows that the trigger was activated four times during the
relevant period. The activation times and the duration of the
Tases are as follows:
6:53:17 6 second duration
6:53:22 5 second duration
6:53:28 5 second duration
6:53:34 5 second duration
Taser's data download, however, advises that activation
times are recorded at the time that the firing cycle ended,
and that the activation durations recorded in the activation
log are rounded up to the next second after 0.010
seconds. Thus, the activation log shows that the second cycle
might have started up to 0.89 seconds after the first Taser
cycle, and up to 1.99 seconds passed between each of the
second and third and third and fourth Taser cycles.
Mr. Moore was handcuffed, Emergency Medical Services
(“EMS”) was called to respond to the location.
Officer White attempted to speak to Mr. Moore but noticed
Moore was unresponsive and not breathing. Officer White
rolled Mr. Moore onto his back and removed the handcuffs to
begin chest compressions. At that point, Officer White was
able to see that the Taser probes had attached at Mr.
Moore's chest and leg. EMS was advised that Mr. Moore had
stopped breathing and to expedite their arrival. The officers
continued administering chest compressions until EMS arrived.
Mr. Moore was transported to a hospital, where he was
pronounced dead. Although the Assistance Medical Examiner,
Kamal Sabharwal, M.D., ruled the manner of death as
“natural” and the immediate cause of death as
being “Agitated Delirium secondary to Psychosis,
” plaintiffs dispute that characterization.
Plaintiffs' expert Philip Cuculich, M.D., testified that
the third and fourth applications of the Taser more likely
than not caused or contributed to Mr. Moore's death. The
Ferguson Police Department's subsequent investigation
made no determination as to whether or not Officer
Kaminski's use of force violated the FPD's written
policies and procedures and no one was disciplined.
Moore's family members filed lawsuits that were
consolidated into this matter. The plaintiffs filed a
consolidated complaint asserting three counts. After
dismissing some parties, the following counts remain:
Count I: Violation of Mr. Moore's Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights by using excessive force under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 against Officer Kaminski
Count II: Municipal liability for the violation of Mr.
Moore's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Ferguson and Chief
Count III: Wrongful death against Officer Kaminski Defendants
have moved for summary judgment as to all three counts.
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 ...