United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Oxford Division
MICHAEL P. MILLS, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
cause comes before the court on the motion of defendants
Desoto County Sheriff's Department, et al for
summary judgment, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. Plaintiff Carl
Crawford has not responded in opposition to the motion, nor
has he sought additional time to do so. The court, having
considered defendants' submissions and having conducted
an inquiry into plaintiff's failure to respond to them,
concludes that the motion is well taken and should be
is, inter alia, a false arrest case arising out of a
March 14, 2018 incident in which the individual defendants
Brian Falatko and Robert Forbert, each deputies with the
Desoto County Sheriff's Department, detained plaintiff
and searched his vehicle at a Desoto County car wash. The
only post-discovery version of the facts at this court's
disposal is that set forth in defendants' summary
judgment brief, in which they assert what they characterize
as these “undisputed” facts:
On or about March 14, 2018, Defendant Brian Falatko, at all
times a DeSoto County Sheriff's Department Deputy, was
patrolling in the area of Hwy 301 and Nail Road in DeSoto
County. He observed an SUV parked at a car wash near the
intersection of Nail Road and Hwy 301. The vehicle was parked
in the far east car wash bay, and no one was washing the
vehicle. According to Falatko, the vehicle initially appeared
to be unoccupied. No water was visible under the vehicle, and
the concrete around the vehicle was also dry. There was no
indication that the vehicle had just been washed.
Defendant Falatko approached the vehicle, exited his patrol
car, and walked up to the driver's side. He determined
that the vehicle was occupied by a black male who was later
identified as the Plaintiff, Carl Crawford. As Falatko
approached the vehicle, Plaintiff had his driver's side
window down, and Falatko began speaking with him.
Immediately, Falatko detected an odor coming from
Plaintiff's vehicle which, based upon knowledge,
experience, and training, Falatko knew to be marijuana.
Falatko also observed several air fresheners in the vehicle
which appeared to be an attempt to mask the odor of
marijuana. Defendant Falatko then asked Plaintiff to exit his
vehicle, after which Falatko searched the Plaintiff for any
potential weapons. Plaintiff appeared agitated and upset
about being questioned. Accordingly, Defendant Falatko
handcuffed him for his own protection so that Plaintiff's
vehicle could be searched.
Around that moment, Deputy Robert Forbert arrived at the car
wash. . . . Forbert observed that Falatko was talking with
Plaintiff Crawford. Forbert was aware that this area was
known as a potential spot for criminal activity; thus, in
order to see if he could be of assistance to Officer Falatko,
Forbert pulled into the car wash. Defendant Forbert found
that Defendant Falatko had handcuffed Plaintiff Crawford, and
Forbert also observed that Plaintiff was upset and agitated.
Forbert assisted by placing the Plaintiff in his patrol car.
At that time, Falatko searched Plaintiff's vehicle and
located a pistol between the driver seat and the center
console. It was a Ruger .45 caliber, with approximately 10
rounds in the magazine. Falatko ran the gun through dispatch,
and it came back negative; however, when Falatko asked
Plaintiff if he had ever been arrested, Plaintiff answered in
the affirmative. Therefore, Falatko ran a criminal history on
Plaintiff and determined that Plaintiff had a prior arrest
for domestic violence and a subsequent conviction. Falatko
did not find any marijuana inside of the vehicle.
Falatko then contacted Detective Mundy Quinn at the DeSoto
County Sheriff's Department, and Officer Quinn advised
Falatko that the handgun would have to be taken from the
vehicle due to Plaintiff's prior domestic violence
conviction. Quinn advised that due to federal law, Plaintiff,
as an individual previously convicted of domestic violence,
was not permitted to have a handgun in his possession.
Forbert was also present and aware of this discovery. After
the background check was completed, and finding no other
outstanding issues and/or warrants for Plaintiff Crawford,
the officers released him; they did not charge Plaintiff with
any offense since the handgun possession was subject to a
potential federal charge, not state. The entire incident
lasted approximately 33 minutes; thus, Plaintiff's actual
time of detention would have been less than 33 minutes. At no
time did Plaintiff ever advise either officer that any part
of his body had been injured or that he was hurting.
Defendant Falatko prepared a written report that same day,
and it is attached as an exhibit to his affidavit.
[Defendant's brief at 4 (record citations omitted)].
amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that he was arrested and
detained without probable cause, for which he asserts claims
of false arrest, false imprisonment, robbery and intentional
infliction of emotional distress. [Amended complaint at 4-5].
Plaintiff does not allege that defendants used excessive
force against him, but he maintains that the act of leaving
him handcuffed in the backseat of a patrol car caused his
back to “pop” and resulted in a back injury which
required surgery. Specifically, plaintiff alleges in his
amended complaint as follows:
12. Once exiting the vehicle, and producing his
identification, Defendant, Officer Brian Falatko directed
Plaintiff to rear of Plaintiff's vehicle.
13. At the rear of Plaintiff's vehicle, Defendants Brian
Falatko and Robert Forbert patted Plaintiff down and placed
Plaintiff in handcuffs. And prior to placing Plaintiffs in
handcuffs, Defendants had not informed Plaintiff of the
reason or reasons for the stop, seizure, and arrest of
Plaintiff. Defendants, Brian Falatko, and Robert Forbert
failed to find a weapon or contraband on him.
14. Thereafter, Plaintiff while handcuffed was placed in the
back seat of Defendants' patrol car.
15. While being placed in the back seat of the patrol car,
Plaintiff felt his back pop, and begin experiencing
excruciating pain in his back, hands, and feet.
16. And while sitting in the back seat of the patrol car,
Defendants'--without a search warrant, and without
obtaining Plaintiff's consent-searched Plaintiff's
vehicle. Plaintiff had not committed a crime in the
officer's present, nor was Plaintiff wanted for the
commission of a misdemeanor or a felony. Plaintiff ...