United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Brittni A. Gaines, Plaintiff,
City of Minneapolis, and Officer Nathan Bauer, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the Motion is
September 24, 2017, Plaintiff Brittni Gaines was out with a
friend in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. By her own
admission, she had a lot to drink. In fact, she has no memory
of any of the events described below. At about 9:30 pm,
Gaines crossed against the light at Lagoon and Hennepin, a
busy intersection. (Carter Decl. (Docket No. 37) Ex. 3 (squad
video) at 21:39:36.) Unfortunately for her, one of the cars
she walked in front of was a Minneapolis squad car containing
Defendant Officer Nathan Bauer.
the squad was in the left westbound lane of Lagoon, it turned
across the right lane and came to a stop on the curb cut-out
for the busy intersection. (Id. at 21:39:44.) There
were many people milling about on the sidewalk. Bauer exited
the car and began walking down the sidewalk. (Id. at
21:39:50.) When his body-cam audio kicks in, he can be heard
saying, “Stop! You're under arrest!” to a
woman walking ahead of him, Plaintiff Gaines. (Id.
Ex. 4 (Bauer body-cam video) at 02:39:51.) At the same time,
Bauer grabs Gaines's arms from behind. (Id.) She
turns her head toward him, saying, “Huh?”
(Id. at 02:39:54.) Bauer then states, “You
play stupid games, you get stupid prizes, ” as he
brings Gaines's hands behind her back. (Id. at
02:39:56.) She asks, “What do you mean?” while
continuing to turn toward him. (Id. at
02:39:56-:57.) Bauer screams “Stop!” and nearly
simultaneously throws Gaines to the sidewalk. (Id.
contend that Bauer was trying to use an arm-bar takedown of
Gaines, which would have allowed him to control her as she
went to the ground. But they acknowledge that he did not
perform the takedown correctly, resulting in Gaines's
face slamming against the curb.
police ultimately transported Gaines to the hospital. She was
not charged with any crime arising out of the incident, and
she suffered no long-term injury. Her two-Count Complaint
claims excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Bauer
and state-law battery against both the City and Bauer.
judgment is proper if there are no disputed issues of
material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court must view the
evidence and inferences that “may be reasonably drawn
from the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party.” Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank of
Mo., 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). The moving party
bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of
material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). And when there is video evidence that does not
“demonstrably contradict” the parties'
differing version of the events, the Court must view that
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.
Mann v. Yarnell, 497 F.3d 822, 827 (8th Cir. 2007).
immunity protects police officers from suit unless
“their conduct . . . violate[s] clearly established
statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable
person would have known.” Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). To evaluate
whether an officer is entitled to qualified immunity, the
Court must determine whether the facts alleged “make
out a violation of a constitutional right.” Pearson
v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 232 (2009). The Court must
also determine whether the right at issue was “clearly
established” at the time of the alleged misconduct.
Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001). Thus, a
police officer is “entitled to summary judgment based
on qualified immunity unless (1) the evidence, viewed in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party, establishes a
violation of a federal constitutional or statutory right, and
(2) the right was clearly established at the time of the
violation.” Capps v. Olson, 780 F.3d 879, 884
(8th Cir. 2015).
Supreme Court has recently emphasized that the
qualified-immunity inquiry should focus on whether there are
any cases “where an officer acting under similar
circumstances as [the defendant officer] was held to have
violated the [Constitution.]” White v. Pauly,
137 S.Ct. 548, 552 (2017). In other words, while there does
not have to be a case “‘directly on point'
for a right to be clearly established, ‘existing
precedent must have placed the statutory or constitutional
question beyond debate.'” Id. at 551
(quoting Mullenix v. Luna, 136 S.Ct. 305, 308
(2015)). The legal question for the Court to answer is
“whether the facts alleged by the plaintiff are a
violation of clearly established law.” Franklin for
Estate of Franklin v. Peterson, 878 F.3d 631, 635 (8th
this case presents an issue of whether an officer used
excessive force, the case must be analyzed under the Fourth
Amendment's objective reasonableness ...