United States District Court, W.D. Missouri.
Ernest J. Kramer and Ella I. Kramer, Co-Guardians and Co-Conservators of the Estate of Christopher Thomas Kramer, Protectee, Plaintiffs,
Trooper Jim David Farmer, in his Official and Individual Capacities,, Defendants.
Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr. United States District Judge
before the Court are: (1) Defendants Rucker, Salsbury, Vaught
and Hann's Partial Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 11); (2)
Defendant Farmer's Motion to Dismiss and Suggestions in
Support (Doc. No. 15); and (3) Defendant Farmer's
Unopposed Motion to [file] Reply Suggestions in Support of
Motion to Dismiss Out of Time (Doc. No. 24). As an initial
matter, Defendant Farmer's motion to file reply
suggestions out of time will be GRANTED, and
the Court considers Defendant Farmer's proposed reply
suggestions (Doc. No. 24-1) as timely filed.
plaintiffs bring this suit on behalf of Cristopher Kramer
(“Mr. Kramer” or “Chris”), claiming
Mr. Kramer was “unlawfully seized in that he was
detained without reasonable, articulable suspicion and that
during being detained, he was subject to excessive force, all
in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment…” (Complaint, Doc. No. 1, at 2). Mr.
Kramer is alleged to have autism, and was a special education
high school student at the time as well as a member of the
high school track team. Relevant to this matter, one evening
while out exercising, Mr. Kramer allegedly stopped in a state
trooper's yard to tie his shoelace, and was later
approached by police, who forcefully restrained and tasered
him. Plaintiff brings a two count complaint: Count I against
all defendants, a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 wrongful detention
claim, that the defendants were driven by an evil motive or
were recklessly or callously indifferent to or disregarding
of Mr. Kramer's constitutional rights when they stopped
and detained him in the absence of articulable, reasonable
suspicion; and Count II against Defendants Rucker, Salsbury,
Vaught and Hann, a claim of excessive force in violation of
the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, that defendants'
conduct “was willful, wanton, reckless, and malicious,
and, further shows a complete and deliberate indifference to,
and conscious disregard for [Mr. Kramer's] constitutional
rights.” (Doc. No. 1, at 19). Both motions to dismiss
seek dismissal of Count I only.
specifically allege that Mr. Kramer was running home from
school. Mr. Kramer's route took him past Trooper
Farmer's residence. (Doc. No. 1, at 22). Because there is
no sidewalk in front of Trooper Farmer's residence, Mr.
Kramer ran along the edge of the property and stopped on the
edge to tie his shoe. (Doc No. 1, at 23). Trooper Farmer
approached Mr. Kramer and asked, in effect, “Can I help
you with something?” Id. Mr. Kramer has a form
of autism that causes impairment in comprehension and speech.
(Doc. No. 1, at 14.) Mr. Kramer became frightened, did not
respond and resumed running. (Doc. No. 1, at 23). Trooper
Farmer yelled at Mr. Kramer to stop running and briefly
pursued him on foot. (Doc. No. 1, at 24-25). Trooper Farmer
then ceased pursuit and called the Maryville Police
Department, identified himself as a Missouri State Highway
Patrolman, and requested the intervention of Maryville
phone call to dispatch, Trooper Farmer allegedly said:
“Well, there's a kid. He's in a red t-shirt,
grey shorts with a white stripe, tennis shoes. He started up
through my yard there. When I hollered at
him, he took off runnin'. Now he was kinda headed toward
my front door. Then, then when I hollered at him he took off
runnin' and he's goin', he's goin' down
West 16th right now.” (Doc. No 19, at 4).
dispatch then sent out a message to defendant Rucker:
“Maryville 214 [PSO Rucker], respond to the area of
West 16th and Main, the area of Casey's. Uh, RP390,
that's Trooper Farmer, said a teenage male individual
came up to his front door. Farmer confronted him and the kid
took off running.” - - PSO Rucker: “Copy. Any
other information as to what he did when he walked up to the
door?” - - Dispatch: “Farmer said that the
individual walked through his yard and acted as if he was
going to go the individual's go to [sic] Farmer's
front door. . . .” (Doc. No. 19, at 6).
Rucker and Hann arrived at the scene at the same time as they
saw a male, later identified as Mr. Kramer. “Deputy
Hann pulled his vehicle up behind [Mr. Kramer] and, as he did
so, Officer Rucker began to pull his patrol car around the
front side of Hann's vehicle.” (Doc. No. 1, at 11).
As the officers angled their vehicles to contain Mr. Kramer,
Mr. Kramer began to run, Officer Rucker and Deputy Hann began
to give chase on foot. The officers shouted commands at Mr.
Kramer but he did not stop. (Doc. No 1, at 12).
“Officer Rucker removed his taser from his holster,
pointed it at [Mr. Kramer] and ordered him to stop or be
tased.” (Doc. No 1, at 12). Around this time, Officer
Salsbury arrived in his patrol car and twice attempted to
position his vehicle in front of the fleeing Mr. Kramer, to
stop his progression. (Doc. No 1, at 12). After being unable
to halt Mr. Kramer by positioning his vehicle, Officer
Salsbury got out of his vehicle and also gave chase on foot.
(Doc. No. 1, at 12). “Within a short distance, Officer
Salsbury caught up with [Mr. Kramer] and tackled [him],
taking him to the ground. ¶45. As Officer Salsbury and
[Mr. Kramer] were wrestling on the ground, Deputy Hann caught
up with them and began to try to assist Salsbury.” The
complaint alleges the interaction proceeds as follows:
¶ 46. Officer Salsbury and Deputy Hann began shouting
commands at Chris [previously referred to as Mr. Kramer] to
“quit resisting” and to “get on the
ground” . . . Chris began wailing, screaming, “I
don't”, “no”, “I want”, and
crying. Chris got off of the ground, but was again taken to
¶ 47. As Chris continued to wail and scream in fright,
Officer Rucker then advised Salsbury and Hann that he was
going to deploy his Taser. Rucker shot two probes into
Chris' right shoulder, then placed his Taser on
Chris' buttocks and “drive stunned” Chris
with the Taser again. . . .
¶ 48. Just as the Taser's effect decreased, Chris
again managed to get off the ground and to his feet and
attempted to flee. Rucker tased him again, but that did not
result in getting control of Chris.
¶ 49. Officer Salsbury and Deputy Hann again took Chris
to the ground and continued shouting commands at him. Officer
Rucker tased Chris a fifth time. Chris continued to struggle
and wail, now not only frightened but in pain as well, but
managed to again gain his footing.
¶ 50. Officer Rucker then tackled Chris, taking him to
the ground once again.
¶ 51. Officer Salsbury then began to strike Chris in the
legs with an expandable baton to ...