United States District Court, D. Minnesota
DONOVAN W. FRANK, District Judge.
Plaintiff Alfredo Rosillo has brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Austin, Minnesota police officer Matt Holten and Mower County Sheriff's deputy Jeff Ellis. The matter is currently before the Court on Holten's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the motion is granted and Holten is dismissed from the case.
The events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred in June of 2011, following an incident at the home of Rosillo's girlfriend in Austin, Minnesota. Rosillo concedes that he was present, but admits to no wrongdoing. That position is at odds with the Minnesota criminal courts' determination that Rosillo "assaulted his girlfriend, broke into her home, assaulted her again and stole money from her purse, and fled on foot while tossing bags of methamphetamine into a neighbor's yard." State v. Rosillo, No. A13-0502, 2014 WL 1660641, at *1 (Minn.Ct.App. Apr. 28, 2014), review denied (July 15, 2014).
Nevertheless, it is undisputed here that, when the police were called, Rosillo ran away from the home and through a swampy area before stopping several blocks away and lying down in a field covered with waist-high grass.
Austin police officer Holten and Mower County Sheriff's Deputy Ellis were dispatched to apprehend Rosillo. Accompanied by Holten's police dog, Ghost, the officers tracked Rosillo to the field where he lay and proceeded to take him into custody. Rosillo alleges that, in doing so, the officers used excessive force, which they deny.
Following his arrest, Rosillo was tried and convicted of domestic assault, first-degree burglary, first-degree aggravated robbery, and fifth-degree possession of methamphetamine, while being acquitted of several other charges. Id. at *2. He was sentenced to 240 months' imprisonment. Id.
Several months later, Rosillo filed this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting in a single-count Complaint that, during the arrest, Holten and Ellis "separately and in concert, under the color of state law, knowingly and willfully deprived [him] of his clearly established and well settled civil rights to due process and to be free from an unreasonable K9 attack, prolonged K9 biting, use of excessive, unreasonable force and unreasonable seizure."
Holten's motion for summary judgment has now followed.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), summary judgment is warranted if Holten "shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [he] is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." In this procedural posture, the facts are viewed in the light most favorable to Rosillo, and all reasonable inferences from those facts are drawn in his favor. E.g., Chambers v. Pennycook, 641 F.3d 898, 904 (8th Cir. 2011).
With his motion, Holten argues that he should be dismissed from this case for either of two reasons: first, Rosillo has sued him only in his official capacity, but has no evidence to sustain such a claim; and second, even if Rosillo's Complaint is construed to include an individual capacity claim against Holten, he is entitled to qualified immunity.
The first point is determinative.
I. Official v. individual ...