United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR
GUIROLA, JR. CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is the  Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
the City of Wiggins, Mississippi; Mayor Joel T. Miles and
Chief of Police Matt Barnett in their official and individual
capacities; and Wiggins Police Officers Randy Vinson and
Douglas McBride in their official capacities (collectively,
the “City”). Plaintiff Alford was granted an
extension of time to file a response, but she did not do so
within the time allowed. After due consideration of the
City's submissions and the relevant law, it is the
Court's opinion that the City has shown the lack of a
genuine issue of material fact for the jury. The City's
Motion will be granted.
case arises out of events occurring in the late evening of
January 24, 2013. Alford, a black female, alleges that on
that night she was standing on a street corner in Wiggins,
Mississippi, conversing with her male companion. She alleges
she was arrested by Wiggins Police Officers Randy Vinson and
Douglas McBride, both white, even though “[s]he was not
a suspect, not acting suspiciously and was not observed
committing any criminal act.” (Compl. 10, ECF No. 1).
After her arrest, she was “crudely, improperly and
illegally searched, ” whereupon the officers found
“narcotic paraphernalia.” (Id.). She was
then “roughly manhandled, ” handcuffed and forced
into the police vehicle for transport to the Stone County
Correctional Facility. (Id. at 11).
reaching the Correctional Facility, Alford alleges that
Officer Vinson “intentionally tripped and twisted her
off-balance causing her to unexpectedly fall forward, face
first, directly into the pavement with the blunt impact
injuring her head, face, teeth and body.”
(Id.). She alleges that Vinson and McBride dragged
her into the Correctional Facility while she loudly cried out
from the intense pain. (Id.).
the Correctional Facility, Alford alleges she was manhandled
into a small jail cell, where she was forced to the floor.
She alleges Vinson kneeled on her face, jaw, and neck to keep
her down as she was stripped naked. She alleges that Vinson
touched her inappropriately while “the other Wiggins
officer watched.” (Id.). Officer Vinson, who
had moved to a different area, returned to the area of the
where Ms. Alford was protesting what they had done to her.
When [Alford] saw Officer Vinson staring at her she became
completely emotionally overcome and outraged by what he had
just done to her. A Corrections Officer then sprayed pepper
spray . . . in [Alford's] face and body even though she
was nude, required medical attention for her injuries and was
not a threat to anyone.
(Id. at 13).
alleges she was only able to wash the pepper spray from her
body using “a dirty cell commode's unsanitary
toilet water.” (Id.). Her pleas for help and
assistance were ignored by “the two Wiggins
Officers” while they were nearby writing up false
criminal charges against her. (Id.).
claims are pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 under the Fourth
and Fourteenth Amendments for excessive force, and false
arrest, detention, imprisonment, and prosecution.
(Id. at 30-31). Additionally, she alleges a
conspiracy to abuse minorities pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1985. (Id. at 31). She may also have alleged state
law torts. The City moves for summary judgment on all of
support of its Motion, the City provided a declaration from
Chief of Police Matt Barnett. (City Mot. Ex. D, ECF No.
61-4). Barnett states that the Wiggins Board of Aldermen
makes policy for the City. The City had a written policy on
the use of force, which required police officers use the
appropriate amount of force necessary dependent on the
circumstances. (Id. at 2 (¶7); Def. Mot. Ex. C,
ECF No. 61-3). The City's written arrest policy
“requires officers to act constitutionally and the
existence of probable cause to effectuate an arrest.”
(Id.; Def. Mot. Ex. E, ECF No. 61-5). In regard to
the incident in question here, Barnett states he was not
involved and had no knowledge of it until after it had
occurred. (Id. at 1 (¶3)). Barnett determined
that McBride and Vinson had violated City policy by being
present during the strip search and holding Alford in place
while two female correctional officers removed her clothing.
(Id. (¶4)). As a result, McBride resigned and
Vinson was terminated. (Id.).
the City provided deposition testimony from Alford. (City
Mot. Ex. A, ECF No. 61-1). Although there is a thorough
discussion of all of the events of the night in question,
Alford's testimony does not address a City policy of any
kind. She testified that she has no knowledge of the police
department's policies or the training of the officers.
(City Mot. Ex. A 165-66, ECF No. 61-1). Further, she had only
knowledge of rumors that police officers had “beat
somebody up that same night or a couple of days before that
or something.” (Id. at 158-59).
judgment is mandated against the 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
has the burden of proof at trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e);
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
Factual controversies are resolved in favor of the nonmoving
party, but only when there is an actual controversy; that is,
when both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069,
1075 (5th Cir. 1994). The plaintiff has not submitted any
argument or evidence in opposition to the defendants'
Motion. Nevertheless, the defendants have the burden of
establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact