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Slaughter v. Lawrenz

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

October 26, 2017

David Slaughter, Plaintiff,
Officers Josh Lawrenz and Tony Kjorstad, Defendants.

          Jennie M. Brown, Counsel for Plaintiff.

          Jon K. Iverson and Nathan C. Midolo, Iverson Reuvers Condon, Counsel for Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         I. Background

         On June 1, 2010, Plaintiff David Slaughter went to Lions Park in Chaska, Minnesota with his three year old grand-nephew. (Midolo Aff., Ex. 1 (Plaintiff Dep. 39).) A few months beforehand, Plaintiff had undergone surgery for peripheral artery disease and he was still in a lot of pain. (Id. 34.) He took his bike to the park, but because of the surgery, he could not pedal the bike and instead just coasted on the bike to the park. (Id. 41.) He also brought along his dog, unleashed. (Id. 44.)

         After they were at the park for approximately five minutes, his nephew, the father of his grand-nephew, arrived at the park on another of Plaintiff's bikes. (Id. 42.) Plaintiff claims that his nephew was looking for him because he wanted money. (Id.) Thereafter, Plaintiff and his nephew got into a loud argument at the park. (Id.) Plaintiff asserts that other people in the park told them to be quiet, to which Plaintiff politely told them to not get involved. (Id.) His nephew then grabbed the child, and a group of men in the park approached Plaintiff, and were yelling at him. (Id.) At that time, Plaintiff claims he feared for his life and as the group approached him, he backed up to his bike and grabbed a miniature bat that was strapped to the bike. (Id. 45.) He believes at this time he also called 911 because he was concerned about his nephew taking away his grand-nephew. (Id. 52.)

         At his deposition, Plaintiff testified that when he fell back to his bike, he debated whether to grab his cane or the bat. Although the bat was shorter, he believed he could get a “couple of licks in before it broke . . . but I was counting on the baseball bat to do damage, because I was afraid for my life.” (Id. 48.) Deciding that the “best defense is a good offense” Plaintiff rushed the group with the bat raised in the air “with all the energy he had.” (Id. 46.) Plaintiff admitted that he intended to “clock” one of them, but at the last second the man picked up a child and used the child as a shield. (Id.) Thereafter, the group backed away. (Id. 49.)

         Because of his injuries from surgery, Plaintiff could not go after his nephew so he decided to leave the park to protect himself. (Id. 50.) He gathered up his bikes and was pushing them home when at some point he fell on the ground. (Id. 56.) Shortly thereafter, he was approached by Officers Josh Lawrenz and Tony Kjorstad. (Id.)

         At his deposition, Lawrenz testified that he received a call from dispatch, informing him of an uncooperative caller reporting a possible kidnaping. (Midolo Aff., Ex. 3 (Lawrenz Dep. 5). Dispatch received a second call from a different person reporting an altercation at Lions Park. (Id. 5-6.) When he arrived at the park, Lawrenz saw some people he knew, who were flagging him down. (Id. 6.) After speaking with these people, both Lawrenz and Kjorstad went to speak with Plaintiff. (Id. 7.)

         Plaintiff claims that he approached the officers because of his concern for the welfare of his grand-nephew. (Id. Ex. 1 (Plaintiff Dep. 60).) The officers, on the other hand, assert that they approached Plaintiff while he was sitting on the ground, after he fell off his bike. (Midolo Aff., Ex. 3 (Lawrenz Dep. 7).).

         Lawrenz testified that he told Plaintiff that they had received a complaint that Plaintiff was threatening the group with a baseball bat. (Id. Ex. 3 (Lawrenz Dep. 8).) Lawrenz then advised him he would need to have him stand up so he could conduct a pat down search for weapons. (Id.) While Plaintiff initially followed the officers' directions and appeared as if he would comply, when Lawrenz touched his wrists, Plaintiff resisted and told him to “get his f'in hands off of me.” (Id. 9; Ex. 4 (Kjorstad Dep. 11).)

         Plaintiff testified that he resisted the search because he did not feel the officers had a reason to search him and because he was the one who called 911. (Id. Ex. 1 (Plaintiff Dep. 60).) Plaintiff further admitted that the officers may have said something to him before they tried to search him, but because the Plaintiff was talking to them, he wasn't listening to what the officers said. (Id. 64.)

         When Plaintiff pulled away from Lawrenz, the officers did a takedown maneuver on Plaintiff. (Id. 65.) Plaintiff claims he fell down onto a tree stump, and that the officers proceeded to kick him and step on him. (Id. 69.) He also claims they smashed his head into the ground and hurt his arms when they put the cuffs on him. (Id.) Plaintiff tried to tell the officers he was in a lot of pain, to stop kicking and hitting him, but they just laughed at him. (Id.) Plaintiff admits that he resisted the officers' attempts to place him in handcuffs. (Id. 71.)

         After about five minutes, Plaintiff finally allowed the officers to handcuff him and they picked him up off the ground and threw him into the squad car and taken to jail. (Id. 74.) Once there, the handcuffs were removed and he was “thrown” into a cell and fell on the floor. (Id. 82.) One of the jailors then bent Plaintiff's fingers and arms, and put him in a chokehold, and when he asked why they were doing that, the three or four jailors in the cell began to laugh at him. (Id. 82-84.) Only when he complained of ...

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