United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
WILLIAM F. JUNG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
motion comes before the Court on the Defendants' Motion
to Dismiss, Dkt. 31, Plaintiff's Second Amended
Complaint, Dkt. 17. The Plaintiff filed a response in
opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. 35. After reviewing
these documents, the Court denies Defendants' motion.
matter is before the Court on the Plaintiff's Second
Amended Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights. Dkt. 17. The
Plaintiff, Rodrecius Hamilton, makes Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment violation claims against the Defendants under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The Defendants, Jeremy Williams, Joel
Mailly, and Justin King are police officers with the Lakeland
Plaintiff alleges that on April 19, 2016 at approximately
11:15 PM, the Defendants “snuck up and surrounded the
Plaintiff's home[.]” Dkt. 17 at 4-5. It is
undisputed that the “reason for this intrusion was to
investigate a misdemeanor battery which allegedly occurred
the day prior, April 18, 2016 at approximately 3 PM.”
Dkt. 17 at 5; Dkt 17-1 at 5; Dkt. 31 at 6. According to the
police reports, there was an argument between the Plaintiff
and David Rogers which led to the Plaintiff putting
“Rogers in a ‘headlock' and repeatedly
[striking] him in the face with a closed fist[.]”
Id. A third person was able to separate them, and
Rogers left the area and contacted the police. Id.
Rogers did not know where he was and gave the wrong address,
so the officers could not pick him up, but he went to the
police station to file a report. Id. The officer
noted that he “observed swelling and redness around
Roger's right eye, which was almost swollen shut, as well
as both of his eyes were bloodshot due to the strikes to the
face.” Id. Yet the officer listed the extent
of these injuries as being “minor injuries” in
his report. Id.
Plaintiff alleges and Defendants do not dispute that the
Defendants did not obtain an arrest or search warrant before
approaching his home. Dkt. 17 at 5. The Plaintiff alleges
that he “[sensed] the men dressed in dark clothing
running towards his home. The men never identified themselves
as police officers.” Id. The Defendants
dispute this and claim that they did identify themselves and
that they were wearing Lakeland Police uniforms which are
black with orange patches on both sleeves. Dkt. 17-1 at 8-9.
Further the Defendants assert, per their police reports which
were attached to the Second Amendment Complaint, that the
Plaintiff stated post Miranda “that he saw us
and knew we were the police and that was why he ran back
inside.” Dkt. 17-1 at 7-8.
Williams' police report, stated that as “[the
Defendants] approached the residence the [Plaintiff] came
outside onto the covered patio at the rear of the
residence.” Dkt. 17-1 at 8. It is undisputed that upon
seeing the Defendants the Plaintiff ran back into his home.
Dkts. 17 at 5 & 17-1 at 9. It is also undisputed that
Defendant Williams chased the Plaintiff into his home by
forcing his way through the closed door. Dkt. 17 at 5; Dkt.
17-1 at 9; Dkt. 31 at 8. At which point the Plaintiff alleges
Defendant Williams “release his K-9” and the dog
attacked him. Dkt. 17 at 5. Defendant Williams asserts that
he “began to give [Plaintiff] verbal commands to come
here and stop or I'd release the dog ([Plaintiff] had
begun to slowly move backwards towards a hallway).”
Dkt. 17-1 at 9. Defendant Williams stated the Plaintiff did
not follow his instructions and instead “began to yell
at me what was going on” and retreated “back down
the hallway.” Id. According to Defendant
Williams, this is when he released the dog which bit the
Plaintiff in his lower left leg. Id. Defendant
Williams asserts that Plaintiff tried to push the dog away
and yelled at him to get the dog off. Id. But
Defendant Williams did not remove the dog because he
“saw no indication that the [Plaintiff] was
surrendering or complying with my commands.”
Id. Defendant Williams then “moved in while
the dog was still holding the bite on his leg and physically
placed [Plaintiff] on his stomach, moved his arms to a
position behind his back and handcuffed him.”
Id. Then Defendant Williams removed the dog.
Id. It is undisputed that at some point during this
altercation the dog bit the Plaintiff's other leg, but it
is not clear when that occurred. Id.
point the Defendants assert that Defendant King took the
Plaintiff to Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Id.
However, the Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Williams
“kick[ed] him several times in the ribs and
legs.” Dkt. 17 at 7. Further, the Plaintiff alleges
that both Defendant Mailly and King entered his home and
kicked and beat him. Dkt. 17 at 8. Plaintiff alleges he
sustained “lacerations, bruises, dog bites to both
legs, and bruised ribs” from this encounter.
Plaintiff claims the Defendants violated his Fourth Amendment
protections against unreasonable search and seizure and was
subject to excessive force. Dkt. 17 at 3. The Plaintiff also
claims that Defendants violated his Fourteenth Amendment
right to due process. Id. The Defendants filed a
Motion to Dismiss and asserted a qualified immunity defense.
survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must
plead sufficient facts to state a claim that is
“plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted). In
considering the motion, the court accepts all factual
allegations in the complaint as true and construes them in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Pielage v.
McConnell, 516 F.3d 1282, 1284 (11th Cir. 2008)
should limit their “consideration to the well-pleaded
factual allegations, documents central to or referenced in
the complaint, and matters judicially noticed.” La
Grasta v. First Union Sec., Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845
(11th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted). Courts may also
consider documents attached to a motion to dismiss if they
are (1) central to the plaintiff's claim; and (2)
undisputed or, in other words, the “authenticity of the
document is not challenged.” Horsley v. Feldt,
304 F.3d 1125, 1134 (11th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted).
the Court must address the relevance and weight given to the
police reports attached to the Second Amended Complaint.
Then, the Court will review the Defendants' assertion
that they are entitled to qualified immunity for the claims.
Police Reports Attached to the Second Amended
the established law in this Circuit that “when the
exhibits contradict the general and conclusory allegations of
the pleading, the exhibits govern.” Crenshaw v.
Lister, 556 F.3d 1283, 1292 (11th Cir. 2009). The
Eleventh Circuit in Crenshaw specifically noted that
“the police reports add several relevant facts to the
operative version of the incident, which, notably, do not
conflict with any of [plaintiff's] allegations.”
Id. at 1291. In Crenshaw the court did not
credit the “conclusory and speculative allegations
about what the officers saw” and instead relied on the
policer reports. Id. at 1292. While the court used
the police reports instead of the complaint for conclusory
allegations about what the officers saw or thought, the court
still relied on the plaintiff's version of events to
determine whether there was a constitutional violation.
Id. at 1291-92.
addressing this issue, a court in this District held that
when the allegations in the complaint “are not general
and conclusory, but are specific as to [defendant], the
police report does not ‘govern or control' in this
case, even though the police report contradicts
[plaintiff's] allegations against [defendant].”
Miffin v. Bradshaw, No. 8:08-CV-592-T-33EAJ, 2009 WL
1953534, at *8 (M.D. Fla. July 6, 2009); but see,
Morris v. City of Orlando, No. 6:10-CV-233-ORL, 2010
WL 4646704, at *5 n.3 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 9, 2010) ...