United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
CHAKAKHAN R. DAVIS PLAINTIFF
HINDS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI DEFENDANT
KEITH BALL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case is before the Court on two motions for sanctions, 
and , filed by Plaintiff Chakakhan R. Davis. Proceeding
pro se, Davis asserts various claims under federal
and state law against Hinds County, Mississippi. Her claims
relate to her May 26, 2015, arrest and subsequent detention
at the Hinds County Detention Facility. Davis requests that
the Court impose sanctions on Hinds County relating to
certain discovery responses and the delayed production of
body-worn camera (“BWC”) footage of her arrest.
filed suit in the Circuit Court of Hinds County, Mississippi
on August 2, 2016. Hinds County, along with other
since-dismissed defendants, removed the case to this Court on
August 29, 2016. On October 27, 2016, the Court stayed
discovery in the case pending resolution of several
immunity-based motions to dismiss. The Court lifted the stay
on May 23, 2017, and held a telephonic case management
conference on June 27, 2017.
20, 2017, Davis propounded her first set of interrogatories
and requests for production of documents to Hinds County.
; . Davis asked Hinds County to identify any BWC
footage of her arrest and detention and to produce the same.
[90-1] at 14;  at 8. In an interrogatory response
propounded on September 26, 2017, Hinds County stated,
“[t]here were no body cameras worn by any of the County
officers on May 26, 2015, or during the course of
Plaintiff's May 2015 incarceration.” [90-1] at 14.
In response to a request for production, Hinds County stated,
“Defendant would affirmatively aver that the officers
did not wear ‘body cam recorder[s]' and as such, no
such recordings exist. Defendant does not have in its
possession any other video or audio recording pertaining to
Plaintiff.”  at 8.
receiving Hinds County's discovery responses, Davis
continued to seek information regarding the existence of BWC
footage of her arrest and detention. On December 21, 2017,
she propounded a second set of interrogatories and requests
for production. ; . Davis requested that Hinds County
identify any written policies it had with regard to BWCs and
the date that those policies went into effect. [90-2] at 1.
In response, on February 8, 2018, Hinds County produced a a
copy of the Hinds County Sheriff's Department
(“HCSD”) policy on BWCs. [92-2]. That policy went
into effect on May 1, 2015, twenty-five days before
Davis's arrest. Id. The policy required,
inter alia, that officers assigned cameras
“activate the BWC to record all law enforcement related
contacts with citizens in the performance of official
duties.” Id. at 2.
February 20, 2018, Davis filed her first motion for sanctions
. Davis contended that Hinds County improperly destroyed,
or failed to preserve, BWC footage of her arrest. In support
of this allegation, Davis attached as an exhibit an audio CD
containing recordings from her cell phone of the arrest.
[92-1]. One of the audio recordings includes her interaction
with an HCSD deputy in the minutes prior to her arrest.
Id. at Track 2, time stamp 1:20. In the recording,
the deputy tells Davis, “I got it right here, right
here. You trying to record everything? You don't need it,
I got it right here. See what I'm saying? I'm
on the HCSD policy and her cell phone recording, Davis
asserted that her arrest must have been recorded using a BWC.
Davis contended that despite Hinds County's discovery
responses to the contrary, BWC footage of her arrest must
have existed at some point, but Hinds County had failed to
preserve or produce it. She requested sanctions under
March 14, 2018, Hinds County filed its response to
Davis's motion for sanctions. In its response, Hinds
County shifted its position on whether the two deputies at
the scene, Bobby Nichols and Corey Carr, had been wearing
BWCs at the time of the arrest. Specifically, Hinds County
essentially admitted that they had been wearing cameras at
the time, but denied that any footage of the arrest existed.
support of its response, Hinds County filed an affidavit from
HCSD IT Officer Warren Finch. In his affidavit, Officer Finch
testified that “[i]n May 2015, at the time of
[Davis's arrest] . . ., patrol deputies were assigned
body cameras which were worn by the officers.” [104-3]
at 1. However, Finch testified that he had conducted a search
of Deputy Nichols's and Deputy Carr's cameras and
their respective folders on the HCSD server, and he found no
footage of Davis's May 26, 2015, arrest. Id. at
2. Further, Finch explained that he was the only employee
with the ability to delete BWC footage and that he had not
deleted footage from these officers' folders.
Id. He testified, “[t]o my knowledge no one
has deleted any footage created by and/or uploaded by
Deputies Nichols or Carr . . . .” Id.
Court considered Davis's motion, Hinds County's
response, and Davis's rebuttal. Because the Court could
not reconcile Finch's affidavit with Davis's
recording of the deputy telling her that he was filming the
arrest, the Court deferred ruling on the motion and set the
matter for hearing.  at 6. The Court scheduled the
hearing for July 17, 2018, and required that Hinds County
secure the presence of Deputies Nichols, Carr, and Finch.
9, 2018, defense counsel served supplemental discovery
responses stating that Hinds County had recovered video files
of Davis's arrest, which had been recorded by Deputy
Carr's BWC, and was producing them. ,  at 3-4.
On July 10, 2018, defense counsel sent an email to the
undersigned's chambers explaining that “[t]he
County's IT Officer was able to recover two video files
created by Deputy Carr from the scene of Plaintiff's May
26, 2015, arrest.” Counsel stated that Hinds County had
supplemented its discovery responses and provided Davis with
a disc containing the files.
13, 2018, Davis filed a second motion for sanctions against
Hinds County . Davis argued that Hinds County
“willfully provided discovery answers or responses
known to be false.”  at 9. She moved for sanctions
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11 and 37.
17, 2018, the Court held its hearing. Davis failed to attend
despite having received notice, and the Court held the
hearing in her absence. Defendants made available two of the
three witnesses addressed in ...