United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
SHARION AYCOCK JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Washington filed his Complaint  in this Court on January
26, 2015 against the City of Verona, Mississippi and Melvin
Burts in his individual capacity as a police officer for the
City. Pursuing two claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
Washington claims that the City failed to properly supervise
and train Burts, and that Burts used excessive force against
him during his arrest. Washington also brings a third claim
for negligence under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. The
City and Burts filed a joint Motion for Summary Judgement
 requesting judgment in their favor on all of
and Procedural Background
of 2013, Washington got into a fight with another man in the
parking lot of a gas station in Verona, Mississippi.
According to Washington, although the fight was not initially
going his way, he was eventually able to get his opponent
bent over a car and was poised to punch, when someone
suddenly grabbed him from behind, spun him around, and
slammed him up against the nearby brick wall of the station.
Washington quickly gave up when he realized that it was a
police officer, Burts, that grabbed him from behind. Burts
pulled Washington's hands up and behind his back, bent
his right arm up injuring his hand and back, and placed him
in handcuffs. Washington and his opponent were
transported to the City Jail where they were immediately
released without charges.
alleges that Burts' actions in bending Washington's
hand and arm behind his back was an excessive use of force
that violated his constitutional rights. Burts responds by
arguing that the force used was not excessive, he did not
violate Washington's constitutional rights, and he is
entitled to qualified immunity.
also alleges that the City failed to properly train and
supervise Burts to prevent the use of excessive force. The
City argues that no constitutional violation occurred because
the force used was not excessive, and that Washington failed
to sufficiently allege the existence of an official
policymaker, official policy, and constitutional violation
required to substantiate this claim.
Washington alleges that the City and Burts are liable for
negligence under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act for the use
of excessive force. Burts and the City argue that the
Washington's MTCA claim is barred because Washington was
engaged in criminal conduct, and that the facts as alleged by
Washington do not rise to the requisite level of reckless
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 governs summary judgment. Summary
judgment is warranted when the evidence reveals no genuine
dispute regarding any material fact, and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
The rule “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after
adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a 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 will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986).
reviewing the evidence, factual controversies are to be
resolved in favor of the non-movant, “but only when . .
. both parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts.” Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. When such
contradictory facts exist, the Court may “not make
credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.”
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S.
133, 150, 120 S.Ct. 2097, 147 L.Ed.2d 105 (2000).
moving party “bears the initial responsibility of
informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material
fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct.
2548. The nonmoving party must then “go beyond the
pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (citation omitted). This
Court has no duty to “sift through the record in search
of evidence to support” the nonmovant's opposition
to summary judgment. Edwards v. Cont'l Cas. Co.,
841 F.3d 360, 363 (5th Cir. 2016) (citing Forsyth v.
Barr, 19 F.3d 1527, 1537 (5th Cir. 1994) (quoting
Skotak v. Tenneco Resins, Inc., 953 F.2d 909, 915
n.7 (5th Cir. 1992)).
outset, the Court notes that the Plaintiff wholly failed to
“designate ‘specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial.'” Celotex, 477
U.S. at 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548 (citation omitted). The Plaintiff
did not enter a substantive summary judgment response.
Instead, the Plaintiff deposited 168 pages of deposition
testimony onto the docket accompanied by the following brief
statement: “The issues in this case are clearly
disputed and should therefore be determined by the
jury.” Although the Plaintiff clearly failed to meet
his responsibility in the summary judgment context, out of an
abundance of caution, the Court conducted an independent
review of the entire record in this case, and will analyze
the relevant issues based on this review.
bring a § 1983 excessive force claim under the Fourth
Amendment, a plaintiff must show that he “suffered (1)
an injury that (2) resulted directly and only from the use of
force that was excessive to the need and that (3) the force
used was objectively unreasonable.” Hamilton v.
Kindred, 845 F.3d ...