Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Thomas v. Barze

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 30, 2014


Page 1041

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1042

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1043

Robert Bennett, Brett M. Burns, and Andrew J. Noel, GASKINS, BENNETT, BIRRELL, SCHUPP, LLP, Minneapolis, MN, for plaintiffs.

Andrea Kloehn Naef, Brian Scott Carter, Tracey N. Fussy, Assistant City Attorneys, MINNEAPOLIS CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Minneapolis, MN, for defendants.

Page 1044


JOHN R. TUNHEIM, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Dontae Thomas was a senior at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis when, after lunch in January 2012, he was asked to meet with two school police officers, Defendants Tyrone Barze and Victor Mills. According to Thomas, during this meeting in an inner office in the special education wing, Barze put him in a choke hold and knocked him out. He brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Barze, Mills, and the City of Minneapolis (" the City" ), bringing claims for unreasonable seizure, false arrest, and excessive force against Barze and Mills and a claim under Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978), against the City. Defendants move for partial summary judgment on all of Thomas' claims except the excessive force claim against Barze, asking the Court to dismiss the false arrest and unreasonable seizure claims against Barze, all counts against Mills, and the Monell claim against the City. Thomas moves to exclude Defendants' expert witness, Joshua Lego on the grounds that Lego's report is based on Defendants' version of events, includes improper legal conclusions, and includes medical opinions beyond the scope of Lego's expertise as a police trainer on the use of force.

The Court will deny Defendants' summary judgment with regard to the unreasonable seizure claim against Barze and Mills and the excessive force claim against Mills. The Court concludes that, taking the facts in a light most favorable to Thomas, a reasonable jury could find that Mills and Barze did not have a reasonable

Page 1045

basis to require Thomas to meet with them in the office and that Mills encouraged Barze in using the choke hold, or at least was required to intervene to stop him but failed to do so. The Court also concludes that Barze and Mills are not entitled to qualified immunity against these claims. Thomas has indicated that he is willing to voluntarily dismiss his Monell claim against the City, so the Court will deny as moot Defendants' motion with regard to that claim and instead dismiss it without prejudice. The Court will also grant Thomas' motion to strike Lego's expert report, but will permit Defendants to file another report within fourteen days, so long as that report does not contain any new opinions by Lego and omits the portions that the Court, as it explains below, deems problematic.



Plaintiff Dontae Thomas was a student at Patrick Henry High School (" Patrick Henry" ) in Minneapolis in the Special Programming for Adolescent Needs (" SPAN program" ), a special education program for students with behavioral needs. (Aff. of Andrea K. Naef, Ex. 2 (Dep. of Lauren Schmitz (" Schmitz Dep." )) 9, 11, Jan. 15, 2014, Docket No. 24.) At the time of his deposition, Thomas was 19 years old and had finished twelfth grade, but because he did not yet have enough credits to graduate he moved on to a different program called " Transitions Plus," where he finished his credits. (Naef Aff., Ex. 7 (Dep. of Dontae Thomas (" Thomas Dep." )) 8, 30.) Before attending Patrick Henry, Thomas changed schools very frequently, moving between Minneapolis, Bloomington, Otsego, and Arizona, depending on where his parents were and moving between his mother and father's homes. (Thomas Dep. 8-25.)

The SPAN program began as a separate school in 2003 at a middle school and expanded to a separate high school in 2004. (Schmitz Dep. 9.) The program coordinator for SPAN at Patrick Henry, Lauren Schmitz, testified that SPAN students tend to have " emotional or behavioral needs," such as " issues with compliance," a hard time regulating their emotions, ADHD, or other behavioral needs. ( Id. at 56.) Thomas began in the program in ninth grade. ( Id. at 11.) Schmitz reported that she " didn't really have any problems with him," and had never felt physically threatened by him. ( Id. at 13-15.) Schmitz said " the biggest issue that we would work on is compliance and following staff requests on the first request; " she did not remember him having been in any fights before or having threatened other people. ( Id. at 59; see also id. at 63 (" I can't recall a time that he threatened someone." ).) When asked about Thomas, John Swain, the head of building security for Patrick Henry High School said that he had had only a few negative incidents, mostly in terms of " pull your pants up," " be respectful, watch your language . . . [t]here was a couple of times I could just remember him kind of going off . . . but . . . I've seen way worse than him." (Naef Aff., Ex. 4 (Dep. of John Swain (" Swain Dep." )) 9, 65.)

Defendant Victor Mills is a School Resource Officer (" SRO" ) for Patrick Henry. (Schmitz Dep. 6, 17-18.) The School Resource Officer program is managed through a partnership between Minneapolis Police Department and Minneapolis Public Schools, and managed through the district's security office, whereas the " part-time officers who are hired by the schools, specifically to supplement security function, are hired directly through the schools without any connection to our office." (Naef Aff., Ex. 3 (Dep. of Jason

Page 1046

Matlock (" Matlock Dep." )) 75.) Defendant Barze is a part-time officer that works lunch duty at Patrick Henry High School. (Schmitz Dep. 41.) Unlike Mills, Officer Barze was not hired by the District's security program, but rather the high school itself. (Matlock Dep. 12.) Officer Barze was a part-time officer hired by Patrick Henry off-duty to provide extra security coverage; he was not hired by the District's security program, but rather the high school itself. ( Id.) A district official testified about how the school navigates the line between criminal and non-criminal interactions between officers and students:

[W]ith a school resource officer, if it's a non-criminal case, that there's not a belief that it's going to be a criminal investigation, then we are very open to how they want to interact with the students.
Had there been a situation where they felt this was moving to a criminal matter, we would have asked . . . we ask at that point that school staff notify a parent that there's a criminal, ongoing criminal piece going on.
That's . . . sort of where we draw that line between what is good mentoring or good interaction and what the police are doing as police officers."

( Id. at 88.)


The dispute in this case centers on events that occurred during and shortly after lunch at Patrick Henry on January 12, 2012. The events involved in the incident subject to this suit generally proceeded as follows: Thomas was at lunch with his peers and, at the end of lunch, the head of school security sent Barze and Mills to monitor his table. Mills and Barze apparently heard Thomas and his friend mutter comments at them, so after lunch they asked Thomas' special education program teacher, Schmitz, to use her office for them to meet with Thomas privately after lunch. Mills and Barze met with Thomas' friend Denzel Davis in Schmitz's office with the door closed, and then also met with Thomas in her office with the door closed, which ultimately resulted in Barze putting Thomas in a neck restraint. Thomas left the office crying and went home, after which his father and stepmother took him to the emergency room.

The Court will recount the various accounts of the entire incident according to the deposition testimonies of the various parties and witnesses in this case. The record also includes Barze's write-up of the event, (Naef Aff., Ex. 9), the complete Minneapolis Police Department reports, (Aff. of Andrew J. Noel, Ex. 2, Feb. 5, 2014, Docket No. 31), and a video of the lunchroom activities on January 12, 2012 (Noel Aff., Ex. 1.) The most relevant contents of these documents are discussed in much of the deposition testimony.

A. Lunchroom

When counsel for Defendants asked Thomas to tell the story of the incident on January 12, 2012, he began: " Well we was in the lunchroom, and it was four of us at that table. . . . [A]nd everybody was being loud at the table . . . [n]ormal loud, every day lunch. . . . And I recall Mills was coming up, he said something, I can't really remember what he said." (Thomas Dep. 70.) He stated that Barze then approached, and according to Thomas, said, " we ain't going to be having all of that today. . . . And he said, 'I'm gonna lay one of you niggers down, I'm going to lay one of you niggers down.' . . . [A]nd then he walked back off, then we had some more words with Mills." ( Id. at 71.) Thomas could not really remember what words they had with Mills, but he remembered himself " saying to him like he wouldn't be

Page 1047

doing all of that, all of that without the badge." ( Id. at 71.) And then he and Mills had more words: Mills " said something like 'We can go outside' or something," he didn't really recall. ( Id. at 72.) He thought this meant going outside to fight or something, and then the bell rang and they all left and he went upstairs. ( Id. at 73.) Then Thomas recalled, " I think Lauren Schmitz said we can't go back to class until we talk to Officer Barze. . . . I was assuming [they wanted to talk to us] from the lunchroom, from the words we had in the lunchroom." ( Id. at 73.) He said that he thought the officers felt they needed to talk to him because of " us being disrespectful of them or whatever." ( Id. at 74.) Thomas said that other kids were saying stuff to the officers but that he was not really paying attention. ( Id. at 74.) He said he thought the officers came over to them because they were being loud, but he said he was not doing any play fighting: " [t]here might have been some students doing play fighting, but I was just talking to Denzel [Davis]." ( Id. at 75.) He denied talking to any Hmong students during lunch that day. ( Id. at 79.)[1]

Defendant Mills testified, with regard to the events in the lunchroom, that the head of school security, John Swain, initially brought it to his and Barze's attention " to come over and stand by [Thomas' table] because he felt that the kids were getting out of control," but he acknowledged that Swain did not say anything about Thomas making threats toward officers. (Naef Aff., Ex. 5 (Dep. of Victor Mills (" Mills Dep." )) 10-11.) When asked what threats Thomas made toward a police or officers, he said:

Well, one thing, when he was walking up to his classroom, he could have just took like 50 steps, but they took the long way. And as they were walking down the hallway, they started talking about how they're going to get they gats and shoot the police, and how they're going to shoot the Hmong students. You know, how they're going to assault someone. And, you know, I believed that, because there have been assaults at the school. There had been assaults between the Hmongs and the black students.

( Id. at 11.) He said that it was a group of maybe ten to twelve SPAN students that were " yelling and hollering" at this point. ( Id.) He said that " it may or may not be in the report, but I felt threatened by Dontae Thomas," although acknowledged that he did not find anything in his report about a threat made by Thomas to police officers. ( Id. at 12.) He said that it happened even though it was not in the report. ( Id. at 13.) He explained his motivation for talking to Davis and Thomas: " I was going to try to talk to [Thomas] and Mr. Davis, try to explain to them why we're doing what we're doing, why the school doesn't want brawls in their school, why we can't have this violence, and why we can't have these threats." ( Id. at 15.)

Barze testified that on January 12, 2012, " [w]hile in the lunchroom, I was called over to stand near a set of tables because of some conduct. What I observed were students standing up, involved in what looked like maybe pushes or swings being made. . . . I was able to see a group of students that were involved. The actual individuals that were involved in that behavior, I don't know who they are by name nor by face," but he said that Thomas was

Page 1048

in the group, although he could not " single him out directly knowing his behavior." (Naef Aff., Ex. 8 (Dep. of Tyrone Barze (" Barze Dep." )) 17-18.) He did not recall what Officer Mills' intentions were, but he was " called over, and [] stood by to show a presence, as a way to have them calm down and stop their behavior," which he acknowledges was not effective. ( Id. at 20.) He said that the students then did not leave the lunchroom peacefully, but rather he " observed some of the students that were involved in what [he] described in [his] first paragraph in [his] supplement here, jumping up and down in the hallway yelling, speaking loudly, and throwing hand symbols up." ( Id. at 21.) He did not remember if Thomas was in that group he observed. ( Id. at 21.)

B. Request for Meeting After Lunch

After the students had left the lunchroom, Mills and Barze sought to have a talk with Thomas and his friend Denzel Davis. Lauren Schmitz testified that on January 12, 2012, Mills " stopped me in the hallway after lunch and told me that he wanted to speak to some of the kids, two of the students that had been causing problems in the lunchroom. . . . Something along the lines of that he wanted to talk to the two students in my office after lunch, because they had -- I don't know exactly the words he used. But that they had been disruptive in the lunchroom." (Schmitz Dep. 15-17.) She observed the two students walking away and mumbling, but did not remember Mills asking the students to come back or to go to the SPAN office. ( Id. at 18-19.) Schmitz followed the students and asked them to come back; Davis came back but Thomas kept walking, so she called after him to come back again and he did. ( Id. at 19-20.) At this point, neither Mills nor Barze had told her that either Davis or Thomas had threatened a police officer. ( Id. at 20.) She left to go help a teacher with a different student and left Thomas sitting outside the office. ( Id. at 21.)

Thomas testified that once he got upstairs after lunch, Lauren Schmitz told him that he could not " go to class until [he talked] to the officers [in] private." (Thomas Dep. 79.) He walked off and went to the third floor " [b]ecause I didn't want to be in the hallway and talk to somebody, probably talk to some girls, somebody." ( Id. at 80.) He said at that point he did not know where the officer was, he thought they were still in the lunchroom. ( Id. at 80.) He went back downstairs and his teacher told him he could not go to class until he talked to someone. ( Id. at 81.) Then he said that he " walk[ed] out the class, and I was walking to the class. I see Denzel walking out. He walk out of the office real quick with his hoodie up. And I was wondering what was going on. And he left . . . straight out the school." ( Id. at 82.) Thomas thought Denzel " must have talked to them while I was upstairs." ( Id. at 83.)

Emily Renner works in Patrick Henry's SPAN program as an associate educator and her desk is in SPAN's main office. (Naef Aff., Ex. 6 (Dep. of Emily Renner (" Renner Dep." )) 9-10.) On the day of the incident she was sitting at her desk in the main SPAN office working, " it was around lunchtime . . . . And then they, Denzel and Dontae and the two officers, came in the office. And I don't remember if Lauren was with them or not . . . . And then they asked . . . Denzel went into the office first . . . . I'm not sure if they asked him or if he just walked -- walked in there." ( Id. at 32-33.) She testified that Thomas stayed in the main office and " was pacing back and forth between the two doors." ( Id. at 34.) When she was sitting at her desk she could see through the window into part of the inner office where the

Page 1049

officers had taken Davis. She said " it looked like one of the officers was searching [Davis]," but she does not remember seeing anything else. ( Id. at 36-37.)

C. Thomas' Meeting in Schmitz's Office

After Denzel Davis met with the officers, Mills and Barze brought Thomas into Schmitz's office in the SPAN office. Renner testified that while Davis was in the inner office with the officers, Thomas was outside in the main office, and he " never wants to be in the office," but it was Renner's understanding that he could not leave until the police officers talked to him. ( Id. at 38.) After Davis left the inner office, she saw Thomas go into the office. ( Id. at 39-40.) She " couldn't really hear what the officers were saying. I could hear -- I could hear Dontae, because he was speaking louder, he was yelling." ( Id. at 41.) She does not remember what he said, but " he was swearing." ( Id.) She answered affirmatively to recalling statements from an email she sent immediately after the event in which she said that Thomas sat in the chair and refused to follow the officer's direction to stand up, and that he refused to be searched. ( Id. at 41-42.) She said she " remember[ed] him sitting -- in [Schmitz]'s chair, all the way back, with his arms crossed." ( Id. at 42.) She did not recall the exact timeframe, but she " heard what she assumed was [Schmitz]'s chair hit[ting] her desk. And I looked up, and then I saw Dontae posturing at the police. . . . He was out of the chair and he was . . . standing in front of the police and he was really close to them, and he had his chest puffed up." ( Id. at 43-44.) " [T]he next thing I remember is one of the officers had him in a neck restraint." ( Id. at 44.) After it appeared that Barze and Thomas fell to the floor, she heard one of the officers say something along the lines of " night, night," or " goodnight, goodnight," but she could not determine who said it. ( Id. at 50.) This disturbed her " [b]ecause it didn't sound like it was . . . necessary. . . . I think it was more of a taunting to Dontae." ( Id. at 50-51.) Before their meeting was over, she " got up and left after the physical altercation and told -- or while it was going on, and told the -- I think I talked to Dara Ceaser. She's the school social worker for -- SPAN." ( Id. at 40.) She told Ceaser that she " thought that they were choking [Thomas] out." ( Id. at 56.)

Thomas testified that he went into Schmitz's office in the SPAN office knowing that he would be meeting with the officers. (Thomas Dep. 83-84.) According to Thomas, Mills and Barze told him to sit down, and " I got my hat in my hand, and [Barze] tell me to put my hat down. . . . And then I had my hand on my hat, and I didn't move it quick enough, so he snatched it out of my hand. Then he was talking to me, he told me to look him in the eye. I wasn't looking in his eye, I was blowing him off . . . [b]cause I didn't want to be in there from the beginning." ( Id. at 84-85.) He explained " I'm looking out of the -- like blowing him off, kind of. . . . So then he came from behind me and smashed me up and put me in like the choke hold," apparently while he was sitting down. ( Id. at 85.) He said after the choke hold, Barze lifted him out of the chair, " like [to] raise me up." ( Id.) Thomas said, " I couldn't breathe . . . . I was panicking . . . . He was under my chin." ( Id. at 91.) " He lifted me out of the chair, and I'm struggling to get out of the hold. And I'm like knocking down a box or something." ( Id. at 92.) After he knocked several things down from kicking and swinging his arms, he heard Mills say, " [P]ut him to sleep," right about when he knocked the box over. ( Id. at 94.) " I heard . . . Mills say to put me to sleep, and

Page 1050

then I blacked out." ( Id. at 95.) Thomas continued, " [a]nd I remember waking back up . . . [l]aying on the ground . . . stretched out . . . on my side, on my stomach on my side," and Barze and Mills were standing up a few feet from him. ( Id. at 96-97.) Once he came to, he said they helped him get back up and sat him in the chair, " [a]nd then Barze took his vest and put his gun down and asked me what I wanted to do now. And I didn't say nothing. Then he gave me a lecture about how he was from the hood. . . . . Barze . . . said well he's from the hood, and he did all the stuff I be doing and stuff like that." ( Id. at 98.) Thomas said they did not say anything about fights in the cafeteria. ( Id. at 99.)

Defendant Barze's testimony about the meeting is somewhat different. Barze testified that when Thomas was in the SPAN office, Barze did not " see why he wouldn't have been" free to leave; that he could leave " [w]henever he decided to walk up and leave." (Barze Dep. 34.) He acknowledged that " [t]here was a time period while he was in the chair that I did touch him . . . . Because I asked him to remove himself from the chair so that I [could] pat him . . . for weapons." ( Id. at 34.) He acknowledged that Thomas was not free to leave if there was a pat-down being done. ( Id. at 34-35.) He said that he " placed [Thomas] in an escort hold based on his behavior. And all of my interactions with him was based on a threat that he made towards the officers, to assault them." ( Id. at 41.) He said that there was a shape in [Thomas'] pocket, a bulge, that he was worried about: " It's hard to remember exactly what it was. It was an irregular shape that was a bulge that caused concern for me." ( Id. at 46.) He never found out what was in his pocket, although he believed it to be chapstick and a phone. ( Id. at 41.)

Mills testified that he and Barze asked Lauren Schmitz if they could talk to Thomas, but that Thomas was free to leave at any time. (Mills Dep. 15-16.) They told Thomas that because he was 18 he could go to jail, to which Thomas said he didn't care, and then Mills told him that he would not be able to handle jail because he could not even handle being in a program that was catered to him. ( Id. at 21.) Apparently on the basis of a bulge in Thomas' pocket, they tried to pat down Thomas, but he did not believe they ever got him patted down until " after the incident." ( Id. at 24.) It turned out that the thing in Thomas' pocket was chapstick. ( Id. at 24.)

With regard to the actual use of force, he said, " [m]an, this happened so fast. They were all up and down here pushing each other, bouncing around." ( Id. at 33.) He said that he was in the room the whole time Barze and Thomas were struggling, but that he never intervened because he " felt that Barze had him, you know, under control at the time. It happened fast. It's a . . . small . . . it's hard for, you know, all of us to even be in that room, really." ( Id. at 34.) When asked about Barze's testimony that at some point he felt he was losing the fight, Mills said, " I'd say they were -- they were struggling. You know, who's a loser, who's a winner . . . I don't know about that. But was he struggling with him? Most definitely, yes." ( Id. at 35.) At some point, when Mills saw Thomas slam Barze into the filing cabinet, Mills " started walking over towards them. And by that time [Barze] had him turned around and was placing a neck restraint on him." ( Id. at 38.) After that, he was " yelling, you know, for Dontae to stop fighting. . . . Things are flying all over the room. And [I] said 'Stop fighting. Calm down,' and then they went to the ground." ( Id. at 39.) He said he thought about physically assisting Officer Barze " when they were . . . going back and forth here,

Page 1051

when they were wrestling right here . . . . I mean, this is just a few seconds." ( Id. at 40.) But he did not assist Barze because he " [d]idn't feel it was necessary at that time." ( Id. at 41.)

Mills denies saying anything like " night night" or " goodnight," as reported by Renner and Thomas. ( Id. at 41-42.) He testified that " Dontae used force on the officer . . . first. If Dontae wouldn't have used force on [Barze], he could have got up and walked out at any time." ( Id. at 61.) When asked who touched whom first in a non-assaultive manner, he said that Barze touched Thomas first. ( Id. at 61.) He agreed that Barze was asking Thomas to stand up so he could pat him down but that Thomas would not, so Barze took Thomas' left arm to try to get him to stand up. ( Id. at 63.) After that, Thomas " jumped out of his chair . . . the chair flew back and either he slipped, he tripped or something fell to the ground." ( Id. at 64.) Then Thomas " started kicking and stuff. Started kicking the microwave, started kicking things." ( Id. at 64.) When asked if he had to tell Officer Barze to stop using the neck restraint on Thomas, he said, " I don't know," ( id. at 68-69), but then he recalled stating, as recited in his report, that once he could see that Thomas was giving up, that he said, " he's had enough. That's it." ( Id. at 69.) He said that after everything happened, Officer Barze wanted to charge Thomas with assault on a police officer, but he suggested that he not do that. ( Id. at 18.) When asked if Mills did anything to help Barze during the altercation, he said, " [n]ot that I recall, no." (Barze Dep. 50.)

D. After the Meeting

Thomas testified that after his meeting with Barze and Mills was over he went to his locker and grabbed his coat and Schmitz was walking behind him. (Thomas Dep. 100.) He walked to his grandma's and then his cousin's house, from where he called his dad and his dad picked him up. ( Id.) He then went to the doctor to get checked out because he felt pain in his shoulder and neck and his face was " all broke out." ( Id. at 101.) He said that the red dots on his face lasted about two weeks -- " they were bad for two weeks." ( Id. at 111.) He did not go back to school for a couple of weeks " [b]ecause I was just going through a lot. . . . Man, it was a lot for me at the time. And I didn't want to be around the police that were there." ( Id. at 111.) When asked if Barze ever indicated to him that he wanted to do a pat-down or frisk, Thomas said, " no I wasn't aware of that." ( Id. at 113.) He said that after the incident he " had some tears," for about five minutes or so, " I just had a lot of tears coming down because I was mad about what happened in the school." ( Id. at 114.)

Schmitz was helping a teacher with a different student during both Davis and Thomas' meetings, but testified that when she returned to the SPAN office, Davis was " leaving the office, upset. And so then I began dealing with him and trying to de-escalate" him; he was " crying, and he was like throwing air punches." (Schmitz Dep. 23.) She " tried to get him to calm down. He was pretty upset. And he headed -- I don't know if he headed directly for the front door to leave the building or not. But he wouldn't talk to me." ( Id. at 23-24.) She brought bus tokens to Davis outside the school, and when she returned to her office, people were trying to open Thomas' locker in her hallway, which was jammed. ( Id. at 30-31.) Thomas was there at first, but then he walked away, and she observed that his eyes were red and he was crying. ( Id. at 31.) Mills and Barze were still in the SPAN hallway and neither of them said anything to her about what had happened in the SPAN office.

Page 1052

( Id. at 32.) She asked Mills if Thomas had been maced because his eyes were so red, and he said that they had not maced him. ( Id. at 32.)

Schmitz did not get an explanation of what had happened from the police officers, but Renner told her what she thought had happened, because her office was " disheveled." ( Id. at 33.) She did not think Renner would have told her what Renner thought actually happened " in front of the police officer [Barze]," but Renner did tell her that " they had to restrain [Thomas]" and that she had seen things in her office moved, such as the printer " hanging off the filing cabinet . . . because they had run into the filing cabinet." ( Id. at 34.) Schmitz further described her office: " the printer was hanging off the side of the filing cabinet. Some of the items that were on top of the heat register were pushed to the side. The box that had been on the floor in front of the heat register had been broken open and everything was all over the floor, like all the markers and school supplies out of there." ( Id. at 69-70.) Schmitz testified that she believed that Renner told her at this point that the officers had Thomas in a choke hold, but she was not positive. ( Id. at 34-35.) In response to questioning from Defendants' counsel, she said that Renner " said that Officer Barze was behind Dontae and had his like arm around his neck, and that Dontae was like slamming him against the file cabinet." ( Id. at 72.) There were boxes of school supplies in her office that were not taped shut, and one of them had been " broken apart and everything was laying all over the floor" -- markers and colored pencils, but no scissors to her memory. ( Id. at 36-37.) Renner was there when they all came out of the office, but she did not remember seeing each of them and did not see Thomas' face. (Renner Dep. 57-58.) Schmitz asked Renner to write an email after the incident, and she did so the next morning. ( Id. at 54.)

After the incident, Schmitz got in touch with Thomas' father and " told him I wasn't sure what had happened, that there had been an incident in my office with the police, that he left and was in bad shape, or didn't look good . . . it was a very brief conversation. He said he was going to try to call him on his cellphone." (Schmitz Dep. 43.) When she passed Thomas in the hallway after the incident, his eyes were " very red and he had red blotches all over his face." ( Id. at 44.) She did not remember his actual eyeballs, but testified that the " area kind of around from his eyebrows and up there was all bright red." ( Id. at 44.) Thomas' father and stepmother called to tell her that they were at the emergency room and requested the officer's badge number; she told Mills that they wanted it and she asked him for his badge number. ( Id. at 44-45.)


The parties and witnesses involved offer various explanations for Mills and Barze's intent in holding the meeting in the inner SPAN office with Thomas.

A. Thomas

After the incident, Thomas opined that he thought Barze and Mills wanted to talk with him " [b]ecause they felt disrespected and they wanted revenge or something," and that he went there " [b]ecause he said I couldn't go to class and I had to talk to them. I didn't have a choice, really. If I had a choice to go in there, I would have said no." (Thomas Dep. 134.) He said that he tried walking away before he went because he thought maybe then he would not have to speak with them. ( Id. at 136.) He said that if the officers would have

Page 1053

asked him to allow them to pat him down he would have " let him because I ain't got nothing on me." ( Id. at 145.) He said that when he left the office on that day he was " very emotional. I don't know. I just felt weak, and I don't know why I was taken advantage of. . . . And like I was feeling emotional." ( Id.) He explained further that he " was just mad that they let the police do this to me in school . . . someplace you are supposed to be and feel safe." ( Id. at 146.)

In her deposition, Thomas' doctor said that he had petechiae, which are pin-point red dots, around the eyes, some on his neck, and some on the forehead a little. (Aff. of Andrew J. Noel in Supp. of Mot. to Exclude Expert Testimony, Ex. 4 (Dep. of Roxanne Pierre) 26, Jan. 15, 2014, Docket No. 20.) She testified, " when I walked in the room I was like, what happened to you? Because he looked so different compared to the other parts of ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.