United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Brittany A. Karels, Plaintiff,
Gabriel A. Storz and Samuel J. Norlin, acting in their individual capacities as officers of the Big Lake Police Department, Defendants.
Kathryn H. Bennett, Esq., Paul C. Dworak, Esq. and Gaskins
Bennett Birrell Schupp, LLP, counsel for plaintiff.
Patrick S. Collins, Esq., Joseph E. Flynn, Esq. and Jardine,
Logan & O'Brien, PLLP, Counsel for defendants.
S. Doty, Judge
matter is before the court upon the motion for summary
judgment by defendants Gabriel A. Storz and Samuel J. Norlin,
acting in their individual capacities as officers of the Big
Lake Police Department. Based on a review of the file,
record, and proceedings herein, and for the following
reasons, the court grants the motion in part.
civil rights dispute arises out defendants' arrest of
plaintiff Brittany A. Karels. Karels resides in Big Lake,
Minnesota with her five-year old son and rents a room in the
residence of Robert and Jennifer Owens. Karels Dep. at
7:9-16, 56:12-20. On the evening of March 27, 2015, Karels
returned home from work and Karels drank a six-pack of beer.
Karels Dep. at 81:1-82:4. At 1:23 a.m., Karels texted
Jennifer Owens and asked her to watch her son while she went
out to purchase cigarettes. Owens refused because Karels had
been drinking. Collins Aff. Ex. D; id. Ex. B at 3.
Karels persisted in her requested, however, and Owens
ultimately agreed to watch Karels's son. Collins Aff. Ex.
B at 4. After purchasing cigarettes, Karels went to Chatter
Bar in Monticello instead of returning home. Karels Dep. at
77:1-78:21, 144:8-19. While at the bar, Karels had two shots
of liquor and, after the bar closed, smoked marijuana in the
parking lot. Id. at 69:4-70:19, 77:1-78:21,
144:11-145:14. Jennifer Owens became concerned when Karels
did not return and did not respond to text messages or phone
calls. Id. at 146:12-22, 148:11-15; Collins Aff. Ex.
B at 4.
took a taxi home and, when she arrived, notified Owens that
she had returned. Karels Dep. at 145:4-146:22; Collins Aff.
Ex. B at 5. Owens and Karels then began loudly arguing
outside the house. J. Owens Dep. at 37:1-18. The argument
continued into the kitchen, where Robert Owens tried to get
Karels to go to her room. Id. at 37:1-18, 38:9-25;
Karels Dep. at 146:12-22. Karels refused, and Robert Owens
called 9-1-1. Karels Dep. at 146:12-22; see Dworak
Aff. Ex. D. Robert Owens later told police that he called
9-1-1 because he feared for his physical safety, but during
the call he only mentioned that Karels was a “drunk
that's being ignorant.” Dworak Aff. Ex. D.; Collins
Aff. Ex. E at 6, 17; R. Owens Dep. at 34:21-35:2, 84:1-12.
Norlin and Storz were dispatched to the scene. When they
arrived, Karels and Jennifer Owens were still arguing. Karels
Dep. at 152:11-153:4. Jennifer and Robert Owens told
defendants that Karels had been drinking, was argumentative,
and they wanted her to go to her room and leave them alone.
R. Owens Dep. at 33:13-25; J. Owens Dep. at 48:9-13; Dworak
Aff. Ex. E at 2. They told the officers that they did not
feel threatened by Karels. Dworak Aff. Ex. E at 2.
asked to speak with Karels privately, and they went outside
so she could smoke a cigarette. Karels Dep. at 153:21-156:6;
Collins Aff. Ex. G at 2. Once outside, Karels began cursing
loudly, and Storz told her to lower her voice so she would
not disturb the neighbors. Karels Dep. at 157:1-158:8;
Collins Aff. Ex. G at 2. Karels eventually calmed down enough
so that she could tell Storz her side of the story, after
which they went back inside the house. Karels Dep. at
157:1-158:8; Collins Aff. Ex. G at 2.
inside, Storz asked Karels for her identification. Karels
Dep. at 159:4-23; Collins Aff. Ex. G at 2; Dworak Aff. Ex. E
at 2. Karels testified that she is unsure whether she
complied with Storz's command the first time, but
Jennifer Owens testified, and defendants' incident
reports indicate, that Karels had to be asked several times
for her identification. Karels Dep. at 159:4-23; J. Owens
Dep. at 115:22-117:4; Collins Aff. Ex. G at 2; Dworak Aff.
Ex. E at 2. Karels eventually provided her ID to Storz.
Karels testified that she calmly gave her ID to Storz. Karels
Dep. at 162:16-163:1. Storz testified, however, that Karels
approached him aggressively, thrust her ID towards him, and
squared off her body with his, which he perceived to be a
fighting stance. Storz Dep. at 55:5-14. Storz also testified
that when Karels approached him, he put out his right hand
and pointed his index finger, which she ran into, and told
her either to “back off.” Storz Dep. at 56:11-21.
Karels claims that Storz poked her in the collarbone three to
four times. Karels Dep. at 165:1-24, 172:18-25.
being allegedly poked by Storz, Karels demanded to speak to
defendants' supervising officer, but defendants responded
that there was no supervising officer on duty. Karels Dep. at
167:19-168:10; Collins Aff. Ex. G at 2. Karels then went to
the garage to smoke another cigarette, and Norlin followed
while Storz stayed in the kitchen. Karels Dep. at 179:13-20;
J. Owens Dep. at 59:16-60:20; Dworak Aff. Ex. E. at 3.
in the garage, Karels twice called 9-1-1 to request a
sergeant or Sherburne County Deputy. Karels Dep. at
175:24-178:12. According to the call transcripts, Karels told
the dispatcher that Big Lake police would not leave her alone
and had assaulted her. Id.; Collins Aff. Ex. H. at
1. The dispatcher told Karels that she could file a complaint
in the morning. Collins Aff. Ex. H. at 1. It is undisputed
that Karels was yelling and cursing at the dispatcher during
the two calls. Karels Dep. at 177:6-178:3.
the second 9-1-1 call, dispatch radioed defendants, told them
that Karels kept calling and making demands, and asked if
they were going to arrest her. Norlin Dep. at 119:17-120:1;
Dworak Aff. Ex. I. Storz informed Karels that she was under
arrest, grasped her left wrist, and brought it behind her
back. Karels Dep. 183:18-185:23. At the same
time, Karels tried to put out her lit cigarette, which was
located in her right hand. Id. at 184:14-20. Karels
testified that Norlin pulled her right arm towards an empty
coffee can, and away from Storz, to put out the cigarette,
but Norlin's incident report states that he took the lit
cigarette from her hand and threw it on the floor.
Id. at 184:14-20, 195:13-15; Dworak Aff. Ex. E at 4.
In any case, Storz felt Karels pull away from him, and he
commanded her to stop resisting arrest. Karels Dep. at
Norlin extinguished the cigarette, he grasped Karels's
right hand and put it behind her back to be handcuffed.
Karels Dep. at 199:22-200:3; Dworak Aff. Ex. E at 4. At the
same time, Storz moved Karels's hand to the midway point
of her back ...