United States District Court, S.D. Florida, Miami Division
TERRY CARRAWAY, as personal representative for the estate of his deceased son, KENTRILL CARRAWAY, Plaintiff,
JUAN J. PEREZ, in his official capacity as Chief of Police of Miami Dade County, Florida; GEORGE EUGENE; and MIAMI DADE COUNTY, apolitical subdivision of the State of Florida, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
LAWRENCE KING UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on the Motion to Dismiss filed by
Defendants Miami-Dade County (the "County") and
Juan J. Perez ("Director Perez") on August 21, 2019
(DE 16) (the "Motion").
case arises from a May 2016 incident in which Kentrill
Carraway was allegedly shot and killed by Miami-Dade County
police officer George Eugene. Compl. ¶ 2, DE 1.
Plaintiff, as personal representative of Kentrill
Carraway's estate, now brings this action against the
County, Director Perez, and Officer Eugene asserting claims
for deprivation of civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
wrongful death, among others. According to the allegations in
the Complaint, on May 19, 2016, Kentrill, Carraway was
congregating with friends in the backyard of a property in
Miami-Dade County when a police car "charged up a vacant
lot toward the backyard where these young black men were
congregating." Id. ¶¶ 17-18.
"With guns drawn, the Miami Dade Police, including
[Officer Eugene], began to yell commands . . . ordering them
to halt and put their arms • up." Id.
¶ 18. Carraway began to run from the officers.
Id. ¶ 19. After Carraway had run approximately
fifteen yards, two officers "opened fire," and
Officer Eugene "shot Carraway in the back twice, killing
filed this action on August 2, 2017. See DE 1. On
February 5, 2018, the Court stayed the action pending
resolution of the underlying criminal and administrative
proceedings related to the incident. See DE 8. On
August 1, 2019, the Court lifted the stay, reopened the case
for further proceedings, and ordered the County and Director
Perez to respond to the Complaint. See DE
then filed the instant Motion seeking dismissal of several
counts in Plaintiffs Complaint for failure to state a claim.
First, they argue that all claims against Director Perez in
his official capacity (Counts I, IV, VIII, and X) should be
dismissed as duplicative of the claims against the County
itself. As to the § 1983 claim against the County (Count
III), Defendants argue that the Complaint fails to plead
sufficient facts showing (a) that Officer Eugene used
excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment or (b)
that the County had a "policy, custom, or practice"
that caused any such Fourth Amendment violation as required
to hold the County liable under Monell v. Department of
Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Finally,
Defendants seek dismissal of the remaining state law tort
claims (Counts VII, VIII, IX, and X), arguing that such
claims are subsumed by Plaintiffs wrongful death claim as a
matter of law, and that they fail to allege the requisite
elements under Florida law in any event.
response, Plaintiff concedes that the claims against Director
Perez "should be dismissed as redundant" and that
the state law tort claims should be "subsumed into the
wrongful . death claim," thus warranting dismissal of
Counts I, IV, VII, VIII, IX, and X. See Resp. ¶
4.However, Plaintiff maintains that the
Motion should be denied as to the § 1983 claim against
the County, arguing that (a) the "facts alleged in the
Complaint support the contention that the use of deadly force
was unreasonable and excessive," id. ¶ 5,
and (b) the Complaint adequately alleges that "Miami
Dade Police has the custom of not properly training and
disciplin[ing] officers, in particular with regard to the
proper use of firearms, communication skills, tactics skills,
and decision making skills," id. ¶
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). To meet this "plausibility" standard, a
plaintiff must plead "factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678. While this "does not require 'detailed
factual allegations,' ... it demands more than an
accusation." Id. (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555). A complaint must contain "more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555; Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
("Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice."). As such, "conclusory allegations,
unwarranted deductions of facts or legal conclusions
masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal."
Oxford Asset Mgmt., Ltd. v. Jaharis, 297 F.3d 1182,
1188 (11th Cir. 2002).
impose section 1983 liability on a municipality, a plaintiff
must show: (1) that his constitutional rights were violated;
(2) that the municipality had a custom or policy that
constituted deliberate indifference to that constitutional
right; and (3) that the policy or custom caused the
violation." Casado v. Miami-Dade Cty., 340
F.Supp.3d 1320, 1326 (S.D. Fla. 2018) (quoting McDowell
v. Brown, 392 F.3d 1283, 1289 (11th Cir. 2004)). Here,
the Complaint alleges that Carraway's Fourth Amendment
right to be free from excessive force was violated when
Officer Eugene shot him in the back, see Compl.
¶ 66, and that the County had a "policy, custom or
usage" whereby it "hired officers who were
substandard and who were not properly trained and
disciplined, including [Eugene], who lacked sufficient
training on the proper use of firearms, communication skills,
defective tactics skills, and decision making skills,"
id. ¶ 70.
as here, the alleged constitutional violation is excessive
force under the Fourth J Amendment, .the
claim must be analyzed under the Fourth Amendment's
"reasonableness" standard. See Graham v.
Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 395 (1989). Thus, the issue is
"whether the officers' actions are 'objectively
reasonable' in light of the facts and circumstances
confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent
or motivation." Cordoves v. Miami-Dade Cty., 92
F.Supp.3d 1221, 1235 (quoting Graham, 490 U.S. at
397). This "requires careful consideration of a number
of factors, including 'the severity of the crime at
issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the
safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively
resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by
flight.'" Id. (quoting Graham, 490
U.S. at 396).
on the well-pled allegations in the Complaint, the Court
finds that Plaintiff has adequately alleged excessive force
in violation of the Fourth Amendment. According to the
Complaint, Kentrill Carraway was congregating with friends in
the backyard of a Miami-Dade County property when the
officers charged up toward them. The Complaint alleges that
the . officers did not have a warrant to arrest Carraway, and
nothing else in the Complaint suggests that Carraway was
suspected of having committed a crime, much less a serious
one. Moreover, the Complaint alleges that Carraway was
running away from the officers when he was shot
twice in the back, which suggests that he did not pose an
immediate danger to the officers at the time of the shooting.
Taking these allegations as true and viewing them in the
light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court finds that
Plaintiff has plausibly alleged that Officer Eugene's use
of deadly force was unreasonable under the circumstances.
support of their Motion to Dismiss, Defendants argue that
"merely running away from officers does not inevitably
lead to the conclusion that a suspect posed no threat."
Reply at 3. But the standard on a motion to dismiss is
whether such a conclusion is plausible, not
inevitable. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Defendants also
argue that the Complaint fails to allege that Carraway was
unarmed at the time of the shooting. Reply at 3-4.
However, Defendants cite no case law holding that a plaintiff
must allege that he was unarmed as a prerequisite to stating
an excessive force claim, and the Court declines to adopt
such a bright-line rule in the Fourth Amendment context,
where the use of force must be evaluated on a
"case-by-case basis 'from the perspective of a