Submitted: February 13, 2019
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Kansas City
SMITH, Chief Judge, BENTON and STRAS, Circuit Judges.
an elementary student, sued Kansas City Public Schools
(KCPS), Officer Brandon Craddock, and Principal Anne Wallace
for violations of K.W.P.'s rights under the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
K.W.P. alleged that Officer Craddock unreasonably seized him
and used excessive force by handcuffing him and failing to
remove the handcuffs. He alleged that Principal Wallace
approved Officer Craddock's seizure by failing to
instruct Officer Craddock to remove the handcuffs despite
K.W.P. posing no imminent threat to anyone and complying with
instructions. K.W.P. sued KCPS for municipal liability and
failure to train and supervise Officer Craddock on the use of
handcuffs on elementary-age children. Officer Craddock and
Principal Wallace moved for summary judgment based on
qualified immunity on the claim of unreasonable seizure and
excessive force, and KCPS moved for summary judgment on the
municipal liability claim. The district court determined that
disputed material facts precluded dismissal of K.W.P.'s
claims against Officer Craddock and Principal Wallace. The
court also denied summary judgment to KCPS. KCPS, Officer
Craddock, and Principal Wallace appeal the denial of summary
the facts in the light most favorable to K.W.P., we conclude
that neither Officer Craddock nor Principal Wallace violated
K.W.P.'s constitutional rights; thus, they are entitled
to qualified immunity on K.W.P.'s claim of unreasonable
seizure and excessive force. As a result, we necessarily hold
that K.W.P.'s municipal liability claim also fails.
Therefore, we reverse the district court's denial of
summary judgment to Officer Craddock, Principal Wallace, and
KCPS and remand for entry of summary judgment in their favor
on K.W.P.'s claims.
recite the facts in the light most favorable to [K.W.P.], as
the nonmoving part[y]." O'Brien v. Dep't of
Agric., 532 F.3d 805, 808 (8th Cir. 2008).
a seven-year-old boy in the second grade, attended George
Melcher Elementary School within the KCPS system. On April
30, 2014, while in Ms. Beverly Cole's class, a classmate
teased K.W.P. incessantly, distracting him from his school
work. The classmate's actions antagonized him to the
point of frustration. In response, K.W.P. yelled at the
classmate and desired to physically confront him, stating
that he "didn't get to push [the student], but [he]
wanted to." Defs.' Suggestions in Supp. of Mot. for
Summ. J., Ex. 2, K.W.P. Dep., at 14, K.W.P. v. Kan. City
Pub. Schs. (W.D. Mo. Aug. 30, 2017), ECF No. 70-2. As
tensions escalated, a second adult school employee entered
the classroom. According to K.W.P., she was
"yelling" at him to "sit down" and
telling him "you better sit down, you are about to get
in trouble, the security guard [is] coming."
Id. at 14-15. According to K.W.P., that woman made
him "even madder." Id. at 15. K.W.P. did
not pay any attention to what she was saying. K.W.P. admitted
that he was "hollering" at the other student things
such as "leave me alone, I'm not paying attention to
you." Id. at 14.
point, Officer Craddock, who was in the school at the time,
was asked by a staff member to step inside Ms. Cole's
classroom to assist with an "out of control"
student. Pl.'s Suggestions in Opp'n to Defs.'
Mot. for Summ. J. at 20, ¶ 27, K.W.P. v. Kan. City
Pub. Schs. (W.D. Mo. Sept. 20, 2017), ECF No.
Officer Craddock is employed by KCPS as a patrol officer.
Officer Craddock did not know K.W.P. or have any previous
dealings with him. K.W.P. testified that by the time he
noticed Officer Craddock, he was "sitting in [his]
seat." Defs.' Suggestions in Supp. of Mot. for Summ.
J., Ex. 2, K.W.P. Dep., at 15. K.W.P. believed he had
"stopped" "hollering" when he noticed
Officer Craddock. Id. K.W.P. clarified:
I remember, [Officer Craddock]-like at first I was yelling,
because I didn't know he was there, I said [omitted], I
just heard somebody shout . . . "if you don't get up
in three seconds, I'm going to come and get you."
And then-like it was a very deep voice. And then as soon as I
heard that, like I just had turned around and then I looked
back at [omitted] and then I just started to be still.
And then that's when he was counting down to three. And
as soon as he said 1[, ] I had pushed like, pushed out my
chair like that and then got up and walked towards him.
Id. at 17.
Craddock asked K.W.P. to accompany him into the hallway.
After the second request, K.W.P. complied and went into the
hallway. K.W.P. admitted that he did not want to go with
Officer Craddock. K.W.P. testified that he responded to
Officer Craddock's request to accompany him by
"push[ing] [his] chair out in a negative way"
because he was "angry," "emotional," and
"didn't want to go with [Officer Craddock]."
the hallway, Officer Craddock told K.W.P. that he was not in
trouble. Officer Craddock wanted K.W.P. to follow him and
would not allow K.W.P. back into the classroom. K.W.P.
admitted that he "didn't want to go with the
officer" and that he was "attempting to not go with
the police officer." Id. at 17-18. He also
admitted he was "trying to get away" and
"wanted to stand up for [himself]." Id. at
18. Officer Craddock bent down to K.W.P.'s level and
said, "Son, I need you to calm down." Pl.'s
Suggestions in Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. at
25, ¶ 38. K.W.P. told Officer Craddock that he
"didn't want to go with [him]." Defs.'
Suggestions in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 2, K.W.P.
Dep., at 18. K.W.P. admitted that he was "resisting
going with him" and "didn't want to cooperate
with the officer." Id. According to K.W.P. he
"tried to calm down, . . . but [he] couldn't."
recalled Officer Craddock telling him "several times to
stop walking away." Id. Officer Craddock put
his hand on K.W.P.'s back to guide him in the direction
that Officer Craddock was walking. Eventually, Officer
Craddock "grabbed [K.W.P.'s] [left] wrist."
Id. During this time, K.W.P. admitted he was
"crying real loud" and "screaming."
Id. K.W.P. recalled "jerking [his] body
away" because he has "a problem with people just
grabbing [his] wrists and like trying to make [him] go
somewhere." Id. K.W.P. admitted that during the
encounter, Officer Craddock told him that he "wasn't
in trouble." Id. Yet, K.W.P. testified that
when Officer Craddock tried to grab his left wrist, K.W.P.
"tr[ied] even more to get away from him."
Id. K.W.P. agreed that he "could have got[ten]
hurt" when he was "trying to go in the opposite
direction and [Officer Craddock] [was] trying to pull
[K.W.P.] towards the front office." Id. at 19.
K.W.P. admitted that he was "aggressively trying to pull
away." Id. When Officer Craddock reached out
his arm to block K.W.P. from getting away, K.W.P. tried to
push past him. K.W.P. continued to forcefully pull away from
Officer Craddock's grasp. K.W.P. began crying. Officer
Craddock told K.W.P., "Son, if you don't calm down,
I'm going to have to put the cuffs on." Pl.'s
Suggestions in Opp'n to Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J. at
28, ¶ 49. K.W.P. saw a handrail on the side of the
hallway and grabbed it.
Craddock handcuffed K.W.P. with his hands behind
K.W.P. admitted getting "more upset after [Officer
Craddock] put the handcuffs on" him and that he was
"still trying to get away." Defs.' Suggestions
in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 2, K.W.P. Dep., at 19.
Officer Craddock double-locked the handcuffs so they would
not tighten on K.W.P.'s wrists. K.W.P. finally "got
tired and stopped trying to resist what was happening to
him." Pl.'s Suggestions in Opp'n to Defs.'
Mot. for Summ. J. at 31, ¶ 58. According to K.W.P., once
in the front office, he obeyed Officer Craddock's
directions, sat in a chair, and did not attempt to leave.
Wallace first saw K.W.P. while he was seated in the front
office and in handcuffs. Principal Wallace did not advise
Officer Craddock to remove the handcuffs. Principal Wallace
had a prior history with K.W.P., having restrained him a
couple of months prior. Principal Wallace left to go to an
adjoining office to complete unrelated paperwork. Officer
Craddock also left the front office. When K.W.P.'s father
arrived, only the secretary was present in the front office.
K.W.P.'s father then left the office to retrieve Officer
Craddock. K.W.P.'s father asked Officer Craddock why he
had handcuffed K.W.P. Officer Craddock responded that he did
it for "safety." Defs.' Suggestions in Supp. of
Mot. for Summ. J., Ex. 8, Wiley Dep., at 3, K.W.P. v.
Kan. City Pub. Schs. (W.D. Mo. Aug. 30, 2017), ECF No.
Doc. 70-8. According to K.W.P.'s father, Officer Craddock
told him that "he made a split decision of what he
thought was right and [took K.W.P.] . . . out of the
classroom . . . and [took] him out into the hallway and
tr[ied] to calm him down or resolve . . . what he thought was
the problem in the situation." Id. When Officer
Craddock and K.W.P.'s father returned to the front
office, Officer Craddock removed the handcuffs from K.W.P.
was handcuffed for a total of 20 minutes. For 15 of those 20
minutes, K.W.P. was seated in the front office. The handcuffs
made K.W.P.'s wrists tender and red. He also alleged that
he suffered mental and emotional distress.
sued KCPS, Officer Craddock, and Principal Wallace for
violations of K.W.P.'s rights under the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The
complaint alleged that Officer Craddock unreasonably seized
K.W.P. and used excessive force by handcuffing him and
failing to promptly remove the handcuffs. He alleged that
Principal Wallace approved Officer Craddock's seizure by
failing to instruct Officer Craddock to remove the handcuffs
despite K.W.P. posing no imminent threat to anyone and
complying with instructions. KCPS was sued for failure to
train and supervise Officer Craddock on the use of handcuffs
on elementary-age children. Officer Craddock and Principal