United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southwestern Division
ORDER GRANTING SUMMARY JUDGMENT
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
action arises out of Plaintiff William Scott Sours's
arrest after a traffic stop in Jasper County, Missouri, on
May 19, 2014. Sours sued Officer Chad Karr, Police Chief
Tommy Kitch, Officer Jeremy Bland, and Detective Darren
McIntosh (collectively “Defendants”), alleging a
violation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Pending before the Court are Defendants Karr and
Kitch's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 92), Defendant
Bland's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 86), and
Defendant McIntosh's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
89). For the reasons explained below, the summary judgment
motions are GRANTED.
moving party is entitled to summary judgment “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 party who moves
for summary judgment bears the burden of showing there is no
genuine issue of material fact. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986). Summary judgment
is also appropriate when the plaintiff fails to establish any
element of her prima facie case. Nesser v. Trans World
Airlines, Inc., 160 F.3d 442, 445 (8th Cir. 1998). A
court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and allow the nonmoving party to benefit from
all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the evidence.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588-89 (1986).
Sours is proceeding pro se, the Court is bound to
liberally construe his filings in order to do substantial
justice. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976);
Native Am. Council of Tribes v. Solem, 691 F.2d 382,
384 (8th Cir. 1982). However, a litigant's pro
se status does not excuse him or her from compliance
with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or Local Rules.
McNeil v. United States, 508 U.S. 106, 113 (1993).
19, 2014, Karr-then an officer with the City of Duquesne
Police Department- was on patrol in his dash-camera-equipped
police car. At approximately 7:16 p.m., Karr stopped a car
due to its improper lane use and obstructed rear license
plate. Karr saw that the vehicle came from a home known to
have residents who possess and manufacture methamphetamine.
After stopping the car, Karr approached and made contact with
Sours, the driver of the vehicle, and the passenger, Melinda
Wisek. The in-dash camera, with audio, recorded the
advised Karr that Sours was on probation and parole for
distribution of a controlled substance. Sours told Karr that
last year, he was released from federal prison for
distribution of a controlled substance. Karr then asked Sours
for consent to search the vehicle.
denied consent. Next, Karr requested assistance from the
Joplin Police Department. At approximately 7:29 p.m., Joplin
Police K-9 Officer Bland arrived on the scene. Karr informed
Bland that the basis for his request for assistance was (1)
Sours's history of drug arrests and convictions, (2)
Karr's observation of Sours leaving a home known to have
residents who possess and manufacture methamphetamine, and
(3) Karr's belief that Sours and Wisek's behavior
then led the K9 around Sours's truck. The K-9 alerted at
both the driver and passenger doors. Sours then yelled at
Bland to get the K-9 away from his vehicle. Karr advised
Sours to be quiet. After Sours continued to yell at Bland,
Karr took Sours into custody for obstruction and placed him
in the back of his patrol vehicle. Karr and Bland then
searched Sours's vehicle, finding a cigarette pack
containing two used syringes and empty plastic bags. Karr
then transported Sours to the Joplin jail.
next day, Karr contacted Detective Darren McIntosh of the
Joplin Police Department to inform him that Sours had been
arrested and his vehicle towed. Throughout March, April, and
May 2014, McIntosh had been investigating two thefts for
which Sours was the only suspect. The first was a March 23,
2014, attempted theft of a concession trailer from a Food 4
Less grocery store parking lot, and the second was an April
13, 2014, theft of a construction trailer and tools belonging
to Crossland Construction Company. The employees of Food 4
Less reported that the license plate of the vehicle owner who
attempted to steal the trailer was Missouri 4CT020. Video
surveillance at Crossland Construction identified a suspect
vehicle with license plate Missouri 4CT020. The vehicle with
license plate Missouri 4CT020 is registered to Sours.
Additionally, surveillance video from Crossland Construction
indicated that the suspect driver had a white Fu Mahchu style
mustache, which matched a photograph of Sours.
Sours's vehicle was towed, an inventory search was
conducted. During the search, officers found a blue Miller
welder and a Dewalt grinder matching the description of items
that Crossland Construction reported stolen. Based on
McIntosh's investigation-including license-plate
identification and the items found in Sours's vehicle-he
prepared and forwarded a statement of probable cause to the
Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's Office on June 9,
2014. On June 16, 2014, a warrant was issued for Sours's
arrest for receiving stolen property pursuant to Mo. Rev.
Stat. § 570.080.
25, 2015, Sours sued Officers Karr and Bland, Detective
McIntosh, and Duquesne Police Chief Tommy Kitch, alleging a
violation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Sours's complaint (Doc. 1) includes claims arising
out of his traffic stop, the search of his vehicle, his
arrest, and the statement of probable cause that led to his
arrest. All Defendants now move for summary judgment.
Officer Karr's traffic stop of Sours's vehicle did
not violate Sours's constitutional rights, and Karr is
entitled to qualified immunity.
argues that he is entitled to qualified immunity for pulling
over Sours's vehicle, searching the vehicle, and
arresting Sours. “When performing discretionary
functions, government officials are shielded from civil
liability so long as their conduct does not violate clearly
established statutory or constitutional rights of which a
reasonable person would have known.” Avalos v. City
of Glenwood, 382 F.3d 792, 798 (8th Cir. 2004) (internal
citation omitted). Qualified immunity is “available to
all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly
violate the law.” Id. (internal citation
omitted). “Courts conduct a two-part inquiry to
determine whether qualified immunity protects a government
official from liability: (1) whether the facts taken in a
light most favorable to [Sours] make out a violation of a
constitutional . . . right; and (2) whether that right was
clearly established at the time of the alleged
violation.” See Buckley v. Ray, 848 F.3d 855,
863 (8th Cir. 2017). “Courts may decide ‘which of
the two prongs of the qualified immunity analysis should be
addressed first in light of the circumstances in the
particular case at hand.'” Boude ...