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Hanson v. Best

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 28, 2017

Cherie Marie Hanson, as trustee for the next of kin of Andrew Derek Layton, Plaintiff,
v.
Daniel Best, Audrey Burgess, Craig Frericks, Kyley Groby, Matthew Huettl and Kenneth Baker, individually and acting in their official capacities as City of Mankato Department of Public Safety Police Officers; Gold Cross Ambulance, Michael Jason Burt and Thomas John Drews, Defendants.

          James Behrenbrinker and Bryce Miller, Collins, Buckley, Gauntry & Haugh, PLLP, Counsel for Plaintiff.

          Joseph E. Flynn, Pat J. Skoglund and Vicki A. Hruby, Jardine, Logan & O'Brien, P.L.L.P, Counsel for Defendants Best, Burgess, Frericks, Goby, Huettl and Baker.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael J. Davis United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Mankato Police Officers' motion for summary judgment.

         I. Factual Background

         At 4:40 a.m. on January 1, 2013, Mankato Police Officers Daniel Best and Kenneth Baker were dispatched to Hy-Vee to check on a male, later identified as Andrew Layton, who was sleeping in the unheated foyer. (Hruby Aff., Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 22-23); Miller Decl. Ex. O (Best Dep. at 28).) Best arrived at the Hy- Vee at 4:45 a.m., and observed Layton curled up in a fetal position. (Miller Decl. Ex. O (Best Dep. at 32).) He was wearing a winter coat, a hoodie was pulled up over his head and he was wearing white sneakers. (Id.; Hruby Aff., Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 33).) Best assumed Layton was intoxicated and asleep. (Id. at 34.)

         Best went over to Layton and tapped him with his left hand, after which he started to stir and flex his limbs. (Id. at 34.) In his police report, Best wrote that Layton then leaned into him and attempted to push him into the carts. (Id., Ex. 31 (Best Report at 2).) At his deposition, Best testified that Layton shoved him into the carts. (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 36).) In response to Layton's reaction, Best used physical force to put Layton on the ground and on his stomach using a foot sweep technique. (Id. at 38.) Best then got on top of Layton, with his chest to Layton's back, in order to keep Layton down. (Id. at 39.) Layton began to moan, growl and make other loud noises. (Id. Ex. 7 (Best Squad Video).) Best then radioed for immediate assistance, airing “16. Fighting.” (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 39).)

         Best then repeatedly ordered Layton to put his hands behind his back, but Layton instead continued to growl, thrash around, swing his arms and twist away from Best. (Id. at 39-40, 57.) Prior to the arrival of additional officers, and seeing that Best was fatiguing due to Layton's resistance, Eric Klompenhower, the Hy-Vee manager, stepped in and held down Layton's right arm. (Id. at 51; Ex. 31 (Best Report at 2); Ex. 6 (Klompenhower Dep. at 36).) Layton continued to resist and began to violently thrash and kick, striking both Best and Klompenhower. (Id. Ex. 7 (Best Squad Video); Ex. 8 (Banguara Cell Video); Ex. 6 (Klompenhower Dep. at 58, 63, 68-69).) Best then told cab driver Christopher Ahl to sit on Layton's legs, which he did. (Id. Ex. 7 (Best Squad Video at 4:46:42); Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 52-53).) Other Mankato officers arrived and took over for Klumpenhower and Ahl. (Id. Ex. 31 (Best Report at 3).)

         Officer Baker testified that when he arrived, Layton was prone on the floor lying face down struggling with Best. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 46); Ex. 16 (Baker Report ¶ 4).) Baker grabbed Layton's right upper arm and delivered three to four knee strikes to Layton's right shoulder. (Id. Ex. 16 (Baker Report ¶ 10).) He then knelt on Layton's back while Layton continued to squirm. (Id. ¶ 12.)

         Officer Huettl testified that after he arrived at the Hy-Vee, he immediately grabbed Layton's left arm. (Id. Ex. 4 (Huettl Dep. at 42).) Layton was trying to pull his arms under him, and to prevent Layton from using his arms to push himself up, Huettl grabbed his arm and pulled it out from under him. (Id. at 46.) Baker then punched Layton five or six times in his right arm with a closed fist. (Id. Ex. 16 (Baker Report ¶ 13).)

         When Officer Groby, now Lindholm, arrived at the Hy-Vee, Layton was on his stomach and Best was on top of him, and a citizen, Christopher Ahl, was sitting on his legs. (Id., Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 28-29); Ex. 18 (Groby Report).) Groby told Ahl to move so she could take over. (Id. Ex. 18 (Groby Report).) Groby then put pressure on his lower back to assist the other officers in getting Layton's arms from underneath him. (Id. Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 36); Ex. 18 (Groby Report).) Layton continued to resist, so Groby applied weight to the middle of his back and held his head down an applied pressure behind his ear in an effort to get Layton to comply. (Id. Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 40); Ex. 18 (Groby Report).) Layton continued to resist. (Id.)

         When Officer Burgess, now Kranz, arrived, she saw four officers on the floor struggling to handcuff Layton, so she took out her taser and got down with them on the floor. (Id. Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. at 27-28, 33).) She decided to deploy the taser on her own in the drive-stun mode to the back of Layton's thigh. (Id. at 33; Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 64); Ex. 7 (Best Dash cam at 04:47:43).) Burgess had to stun him a second time before the officers were able to handcuff Layton's wrists behind his back. (Id. Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. 38-39); Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 68-69); Ex. 32 (Best Report at 3).) Two sets of cuffs were used to restrain Layton's hands behind his back due to the fact that Layton continued to resist. (Id., Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. at 44).)

         After he was handcuffed, Layton was further restrained with a RIPP Hobble due to his continued struggles and kicking. (Id., Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 70); Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. 44-45).) In the process of placing Layton in the Hobble restraint, Best was kicked two to three times in the chest and Burgess' hand was smashed into one of the shopping carts. (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 74); Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. at 37-38, 56).) After the Hobble restraint was applied, Layton continued to struggle, rolling from side to side, in a prone-like position. (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 90-91); Ex. 12 (Kranz Dep. at 60); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 78-79).) Best admitted that after the leg restraints were applied, he said to someone that “we're getting the anger out of him first. Then we're taking him to jail.” (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 82).) After the Hobble was applied, Best was able to locate Layton's wallet. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 94).) When he heard Layton's name, Baker recognized it from previous contacts he had with Layton involving narcotics. (Id. at 95.) Best also had prior contacts with Layton, but did not recognize him that night. (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 84).)

         Because Layton continued to resist and spit on the officers, a spit mask was put over his head. (Id. Ex. 4 (Huettl Dep. at 63-64); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 127); Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 71).) At 4:54 a.m., Best is heard on the squad video stating that he believed Layton was “methed out.” (Id. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 80).) Commander Frericks also admitted that he thought Layton was intoxicated on methamphetamine. (Id. Ex. 13 (Frericks Dep. at 69).) Frericks requested that Layton be transported to the jail by Gold Cross ambulance because he did not believe officers could safely transport Layton in a squad, which would require the removal of his restraints, which was not viewed as a viable option at that time. (Id. Ex. 13 (Frericks Dep. at 38, 49, 69); Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 84, 93-94, 106).) Frericks further wanted to prevent positional asphyxia. (Id. Ex. 19 (Frericks Report).)

         While waiting for the ambulance, both Baker and Huettl remained on either side of Layton to ensure he would not harm himself. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 88, 184).) Layton continued to fight the restraints and yell in an unintelligible manner, although his resistance would stop intermittently. (Id. at 75, 94.) In his report, Huettl wrote that “[w]hile waiting for Gold Cross to arrive, Layton displayed a fluxuation [sp] in moods by being calm at time but then immediately would display ‘raging behavior' by tensing his muscle, yelling and groaning, pushing his body to the point of exhaustion, rocking his head back and forth, and violently flexing and shaking.” (Id. Ex. 17 (Huettl Report at 1).) The officers believed that given Layton's continued resistance, it was best to keep him on his stomach, and Baker used his hands to press Layton's shoulders to the ground. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 84-86, 184).) At the same time, Groby held Layton's thighs to the ground, as Layton was trying to rise to a kneeling position. (Id. Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 72-73, 75).)

         Gold Cross arrived at the scene at 5:05 a.m. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report).) Paramedics Michael Burt and Thomas Drews were advised by Baker that Layton was a known meth abuser and an alcoholic. (Id. Ex. 23 (Drews Dep. at 73, 103).) Thereafter the paramedics assessed Layton's medical needs and concluded his behavior did not present a medical emergency, that he did not need emergency treatment and could be transported safely to jail. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report); Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. at 95-96, 134-36, 138); Ex. 23 (Drews Dep. at 125-27).) “He had an adequate rate, he was breathing, a patent airway, circulation, no gross major bleeds, no life-threatening signs.” (Id. Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. at 135-36).) The paramedics also took into consideration information provided by the officers that Layton's reaction was consistent with his behavior in prior police contacts. (Id. at 136.)

         Officers Baker, Huettl, Groby and Frericks lifted Layton onto a cot, and his leg restraints were unhooked from the handcuffs. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 81); Ex. 4 (Huettl Dep. at 83); Ex. 3 (Lindholm Dep. at 91-92); Ex. 13 (Frericks Dep. at 46); Ex. 25.) The paramedics then tried to position Layton on his side, but Layton kept rolling to the prone position. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report at 2); Ex. 23 (Drews Dep. at 163); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 154-55).) They also placed a pillow under his shoulder, with his head turned to the left, so he wasn't lying flat on his stomach in the ambulance. (Id. Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. at 114-15).) Baker knelt on Layton's left shoulder to allow application of a velcro wrist restraint. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 117-19).) After the wrist restraint was applied, Baker got off the cot and the paramedics positioned cot straps over Layton. (Id. at 119; Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. at 118-19).) One witness testified that once on the gurney, she observed Layton become “a little less active” but that he continued to move his body. (Plaintiff Ex. Y (Devens Dep. at 55-56).)

         Best and Baker rode in the ambulance with Layton, given that he continued to resist his restraints. (Hruby Aff. Ex. 1 (Best Dep. at 118-19); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 113) Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report at 2); Ex. 22 (Burt Dep. at 127); Ex. 28 (Drews BCA Statement at 7).) During transport, Layton continued to struggle on the cot so Baker guided his shoulder back to the cot so he would not fall off or get wrapped up on the loose cot straps. (Id. Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 122-27).) At the same time, Burt kept one hand on Layton's wrist to feel his pulse and the other on his back to make sure he was breathing. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report); Ex. 27 (Burt BCA Statement at 6).) He kept fighting until shortly before entering the jail Sally Port, when he stopped moving, but he was still breathing and had a pulse. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report at 2); Ex. 27 (Burt BCA Statement at 6.).) Burt checked his pulse and reported that he had a radial pulse. (Id. Ex. 24 (Gold Cross Report at 2); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 133, 135-36); Ex. 27 (Burt BCA Statement at 6-7).)

         Once at the jail, Layton was rolled into the booking area, where it was discovered that he was in cardiac arrest. (Id. Ex. 23 (Drews Dep. at 122); Ex. 2 (Baker Dep. at 137).) Officers removed his handcuffs and CPR was initiated and after two applications of the AED, a cardiac rhythm was restored. (Id. Ex. 29 (Gold Cross Report at 6); Ex. 32 (Jail Video).) Layton was then transported to the hospital. (Id. Ex. 29 (Gold Cross Report at 6).)

         Layton did not regain consciousness and died on January 5, 2013. (Id. Ex. 30 (Autopsy).) The autopsy report states that Layton suffered from acute pneumonia due to probable excited delirium; atherosclerotic heart disease, multiple abrasions and contusions, focal subgaleal hematoma (bleeding between the skull and scalp), focal acute soft tissue neck hemorrhage, and microvesicular hepatic steatosis (liver disease commonly caused by tetracycline, Reyes syndrome and hepatitis C). (Id.) The autopsy further noted that the hospital drug screen was positive for amphetamine and that he had an ethanol level of 0.143 g/dL. (Id.)

         The autopsy photos show no marks or bruising on Layton's arm, but his face was bruised and marked with several contusions. (Plaintiff Ex. B.) The right side of Layton's forehead sustained a significant pressure abrasion, and the front area of Layton's right shoulder sustained a significant pressure abrasion. (Id.) Layton also suffered significant neck trauma and a fracture to the hyoid bone. (Plaintiff Ex. A (Baden Report at 5).) The autopsy report states that “[t]he hyoid bone and thyroid cartilage are intact.” (Hruby Aff. Ex. 30 (Autopsy at 7).)

         Plaintiff, Layton's mother, has brought a number of claims against the defendant officers: Count I asserts a Fourth Amendment claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Count II asserts a Deliberate Indifference to Serious Medical Needs claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Count III, Punitive Damages under Federal ...


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