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Manners v. Cannella

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

June 4, 2018

LIVINGSTON MANNERS, Plaintiff - Appellant,
OFFICER RONALD CANNELLA, individually, OFFICER KARRIE SABILLON, individually, CITY OF HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA, Defendants - Appellees, OFFICER PAUL SCHEEL, individually, Defendant.

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 0:15-cv-62071-BB

          Before MARCUS, FAY, and HULL, Circuit Judges.

          MARCUS, Circuit Judge:

         In 2014, Livingston Manners was arrested by City of Hollywood police officers. An altercation ensued. Manners filed suit in federal court regarding the incident and now appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment against his claims -- federal civil rights claims for use of excessive force and for malicious prosecution as well as a companion state common-law claim for false arrest. Because the officers had probable cause to arrest Manners and did not violate clearly established constitutional law during his arrest, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity from the civil rights claims. A finding of probable cause also bars a claim for false arrest. Accordingly, we affirm.



         Close to three in the morning on June 24, 2014, Livingston Manners was sitting in his car on the side of Plunkett Street, a residential street in the City of Hollywood, Florida ("the City"), before heading to work. Ronald Cannella, a City of Hollywood police officer, was on patrol "in reference to recent crimes of theft in the area, " and he drove past Manners. Soon after Cannella drove by, Manners pulled out and turned south on 26th Avenue. There is a dispute about what happened next. Cannella said he saw -- through his rearview mirror -- that Manners ran a stop sign. Manners claimed that he came to a complete stop.

         Cannella made a U-turn and followed Manners down 26th Avenue. At some point between Plunkett Street and Pembroke Road, a distance of some four or five blocks, Cannella activated his emergency lights and also ran his sirens, although there is some dispute about when exactly this happened. Manners admitted that, some three blocks past Plunkett Street, he saw Officer Cannella behind him and that the officer's lights and sirens were on. Cannella said that he "activated [his] emergency lights and sirens, as [he] hit the intersection of Pembroke Road and 26th Avenue" and that he was directly behind Manners's vehicle at that intersection.

         On this record, however, and taking the evidence in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, it is undisputed that Manners did not stop when he saw Cannella behind him, or when he saw Cannella's lights and sirens activated. Manners knew that the vehicle was a police car, that a police officer was instructing him to stop, and that the lights and sirens meant he was required to stop his car. Instead of stopping, Manners continued along 26th Avenue, through a traffic light at Pembroke Road, and stopped at a gas station across the intersection. We know this because Manners has said repeatedly, and explicitly, that he did not stop when directed to do so. In a sworn deposition, Manners offered the following explanation:

Q: Why did you not stop?
[Manners]: Because it was dark. It was very dark.
Q: And you had no doubt that it was police officer pulling you over, correct?
A: Yes, ma'am. That's why I slowed down. Manners has also clearly described why he chose not to stop immediately --because he was afraid of being hit or killed by a police officer:
Q: So when an officer puts his lights and sirens on to you that means slow down?
A: No. That means stop, but in this particular -- in this particular instance -- ma'am, I ran into situations before. . . . I've ran into situations before where I've got punched or hit by a police officer because of my [stature]. I'm big and black.

         In testimony at his criminal trial in Broward County, Manners offered the following answers:

Q: Now, did you pull over upon seeing the flashing lights?
[Manners]: No, I d[id] not.
Q: Why didn't you pull over immediately?
A: It was late at night, sir . . . . I was in fear for my life.

         Manners offers that because he was afraid, he continued driving until he reached a well-lit gas station where video surveillance was available. By Manners's own account, the distance he intentionally travelled after seeing the officer behind him with lights and sirens, but before coming to a stop, was about three blocks, one-tenth of a mile, or 176 yards. He continued to drive after being directed to stop for 14.4 seconds, or, as he said at another occasion in his deposition, for "[a]bout two minutes, two minutes at the most."[1]

         At the gas station, Cannella stopped behind Manners and approached the driver's side of Manners's car. Cannella asked for Manners's driver's license, which Manners provided. A silent video recording of the entire incident at the gas station was taken from surveillance cameras. Cannella can be seen at Manners's driver's side door, and while Cannella looked in the backseat, Manners stepped out of the vehicle. Cannella and Manners spoke, facing one another, for several seconds. There is no dispute that Cannella informed Manners he was under arrest. Manners knew this; in fact, Manners said he asked Cannella to hurry up so that he could get to work and Cannella said "[y]ou're going to jail." According to Cannella, he repeatedly directed Manners to get back into his car, but Manners refused to do so. Cannella then placed Manners under arrest. Cannella said: "I must have told him at least two to three times [to remain seated in his vehicle] and he said, no, every time." Manners, on the other hand, denied that Cannella ever directed him to stay in the car.

         A review of the video recording clearly establishes that a physical struggle ensued when Cannella attempted to place Manners under arrest. Manners's efforts to thwart the arrest are equally evident from the video. The first attempt to handcuff Manners occurred outside the vehicle -- Cannella apparently grabbed Manners's wrist as Manners either sat or fell back into his car. A struggle ensued in the car; Cannella leaned or fell on top of Manners, and he tried to pull Manners out of the vehicle. The parties disagree about what happened inside the car. Manners conceded that he pulled back, asked why he was under arrest, and said Cannella punched him three times while lying on top of him. Cannella, in turn said Manners screamed at him and struck him (Cannella) three to four times.

         After the details of an indiscernible struggle occurred inside the car, the video recording shows that Cannella pulled Manners out of the car. Cannella flipped Manners onto the ground and went on top of him. Manners, in turn, is seen shoving at Cannella, and Cannella is seen punching Manners in the head. Cannella then flipped Manners onto his stomach and attempted to bring Manners's arms together behind his back, evidently attempting to handcuff Manners. Manners is seen pulling his arms away, flailing, and then rolling onto his back. Manners is also seen bringing his leg up and onto Cannella's upper back, and grabbing and holding Cannella's wrists for an extended period.

         Officer Sabillon arrived on the scene as backup; she said it "looked like [Cannella] was trying to take Livingston Manners into custody, but he couldn't because of the constant power struggle between the both of them with their hands." On the video recording, Sabillon is seen deploying her taser on Manners's stomach. Manners flailed on the ground, and both Cannella and Sabillon are seen attempting to handcuff him for about a minute, deploying one or both of their tasers. Eventually, Sabillon is seen lying across Manners, while Cannella placed Manners in handcuffs. More officers arrived, and four or five of them surrounded Manners and ...

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