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Brown v. City of Minneapolis

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

September 24, 2013

Venus Brown and Otha Denham, Plaintiffs,
v.
City of Minneapolis, a Minnesota Municipal Corporation, Richard Taylor, Officer Employed by Minneapolis Police Department, Michael Nimlos, Police Officer Employed by Minneapolis Police Department and Supervisory Personnel, Unknown Supervisors Employed by Minneapolis Police Department, Defendants.

Michael B. Taylor, Esq. and Law Offices of Michael B. Taylor, LLC, 7616 Currell Boulevard, Suite 200, Woodbury, MN 55125, counsel for plaintiffs.

Gregory P. Sautter, Esq., Office of the City Attorney, 350 South Fifth Street, City Hall, Room 210, Minneapolis, MN 55415, counsel for defendants.

ORDER

DAVID S. DOTY, District Judge.

This matter is before the court upon the motion for summary judgment by defendants.[1] Based on a review of the file, record and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motion.

BACKGROUND

This excessive-force dispute arises out of a March 30, 2010, incident between plaintiff Venus Brown[2] and Minneapolis Police Officers Taylor and Nimlos. At 5:45 p.m., Taylor and Nimlos were dispatched to 3rd Street North and 30th Avenue North in Minneapolis. Taylor Dep. 19:12-15. The officers were responding to a complaint of a brown van alleged to be responsible for illegally dumping trash in the area. Id .; Nimlos Dep. 15:19-16:1.

Upon arrival, the officers observed a two-toned brown and blue van pull away from the curb. Nimlos activated the squad car's emergency lights[3] and directed Otha Denham, the driver of the van, to stop the vehicle. Nimlos Dep. 17:17-20. The van continued traveling for a short distance and stopped in the parking lot of 315 Lowry Avenue North. Id. at 17:20-22.

Both officers exited the squad car. Nimlos approached the driver-side door of the van and asked Denham to produce his driver's license. Sautter Aff. Ex. 4, at 1:04. Taylor drew his service weapon and approached the van's rear door. Id. at 0:46. Taylor opened the rear door and observed several children. Taylor Dep. 37:22-25. Taylor then holstered his weapon and approached the passenger-side door, where Brown was seated. Sautter Aff. Ex. 4, at 0:55; Taylor Dep. 38:3-5. After Brown indicated that the window was not operational, Taylor opened the passenger door. Brown Dep. 38:22-39:1.

Taylor asked Brown for her identification. Taylor Dep. 42:5-11. Brown did not immediately comply and Taylor removed Brown from the van. Id. at 59:1-25. Brown raised her voice and became verbally aggressive towards Taylor, and Nimlos left Denham to assist Taylor. Sautter Aff. Ex. 4, at 1:26-1:27. Brown resisted, and Taylor maneuvered Brown against the van. Id. at 1:29-1:40. Brown fell to the ground and Taylor pulled her to her feet by her right arm. Brown Dep. 42:12-43:1. Brown claims that, at that point, Nimlos unholstered his Taser and Taylor "put his whole hand on [her] throat and choked [her] and slammed [her] against [her] vehicle...."[4] Id. at 43:1-6. Nimlos applied an escort hold to Brown and Taylor handcuffed her. Sautter Aff. Ex. 4, at 1:44. Taylor unholstered his Taser, but did not use or threaten to use it. Id. at 2:07.

Brown claims that once she was handcuffed, Taylor "dragged [her] to the police car and threw [her] inside." Brown Dep. 46:23-24. Thereafter, the officers removed Brown from the squad car and issued a citation for failing to wear a seatbelt. Brown claims that Taylor and Nimlos taunted her with the citation, which she destroyed upon receipt. Id. at 57:3-24; Sautter Aff. Ex. 4, at 16:27.

Brown went to Hennepin County Medical Center that day and was later diagnosed with a left shoulder strain and sprain. See Taylor Aff. Ex. 1, at 29. She was instructed to use a sling as needed, take Vicodin and Flexeril for pain management, apply heat and ice to the affected areas and schedule follow-up sessions with sports medicine. Id. at 34-35. Brown was told that her alleged injuries were likely "transient." Id. at 34. Brown also alleges that she suffered scrapes on her knees, hoarseness and "red dots on [her] throat" from the incident. Brown Dep. 40:23, 58:12. Brown at no time received treatment for any injury to her throat or neck. Brown Dep. 24:19-24.

On March 29, 2012, Brown filed suit, alleging a 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 claim for excessive force and common law claims for assault and battery.[5] Defendants move for summary judgment.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of ...


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