Você está na página 1de 81

Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 1 of 81

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
ROME DIVISION

KIERSTEN QUICK,

Plaintiff, CIVIL ACTION FILE NO.


4:17-CV-0192-HLM
V.

STATE TROOPER JOSEPH


GEDDIE, individually, and
DENNY REYES, DADE
COUNTY SHERIFF'S
DEPUTY, individually,

Defendant.

ORDER

This case is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for

Partial Summary Judgment [33], on the Motion for Summary

Judgment filed by Defendant Denny Reyes ("Defendant


Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 2 of 81

Reyes") [37], and on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed

by Defendant Joseph Geddie ("Defendant Geddie") [39].

I. Initial Matters

As required by the Local Rules, Plaintiff filed a Statement

of Material Facts ("PSMF") in support of her Motion for Partial

Summary Judgment. (PSMF (Docket Entry No. 33-2).)

Defendant Geddie filed a response to PSMF ("GRPSMF"),

while Defendant Reyes also filed a response to PSMF

("RRPSMF"). (GRPSMF (Docket Entry No. 43-1); RRPSMF

(Docket Entry No. 44-1).)

Defendant Reyes also filed a Statement of Material Facts

("RSMF") in support of his own Motion for Summary

Judgment. (RSMF (Docket Entry No. 37-1).) Plaintiff filed a

response to RSMF ("PRRSMF"). (PRRSMF (Docket Entry

No. 46-1).) As permitted by the Local Rules, Plaintiff filed her

own Statement of Additional Material Facts ("PSAF"), to which


2
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 3 of 81

Defendant Reyes responded ("RRPSAF"). (PSAF (Docket

Entry No. 46-2); RRPSAF (Docket Entry No. 49).)

Defendant Geddie also filed a Statement of Material

Facts in support of his Motion for Summary Judgment

("GSMF"). (GSMF (Docket Entry No. 39-1).) Plaintiff filed a

response to GSMF ("PRGSMF"). (PRGSMF (Docket Entry

No. 45-1).) As permitted by the Local Rules, Plaintiff filed her

own Statement of Additional Material Facts, which is identical

to the Statement of Additional Material Facts that Plaintiff

provided in response to Defendant Reyes' Motion. (Compare

Docket Entry No. 46-2 with Docket Entry No. 45-2.) The Court

refers to both of Plaintiff's Statements of Additional Material

Facts as "PSAF." Defendant Geddie filed a response to PSAF

("GRPSAF"). (GRPSAF (Docket Entry No. 47-1).)

The Court notes that the majority of the statements in

PSAF are identical to the statements contained in PSMF.


3
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 4 of 81

(Compare PSAF %If 1-76 with PSMF 1111 1-76.) The Court

excludes PSAF 7 1-76 as duplicative. The Court also notes

that certain statements in PSMF are impermissible legal

conclusions or contain legal arguments. (PSMF 7 30-31, 45,

47, 51-52, 54-55, 57-58, 61, 65-71, 76.) The Court has not

considered those statements. See N.D. Ga. R. 56.1B(1)

("The court will not consider any fact. . . stated as an issue or

legal conclusion.").

The Court addresses the remaining portions of PSMF,

GRPSMF, RRPSMF, RSMF, PRRSMF, GSMF, PRGSMF,

PSAF, RRPSAF, and GRPSAF infra. Where the parties

object to a proposed fact and the Court does not explicitly

discuss the objection, the Parties can conclude that the Court

has overruled the objection. If the Court does not mention a

proposed fact or the substance of a proposed fact, the Parties

4
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 5 of 81

can conclude that the Court has found the proposed fact

immaterial or unsupported.

II. Background

A. Factual Background

Keeping in mind that, when deciding a motion for

summary judgment, the Court must view the evidence and all

factual inferences in the light most favorable to the party

opposing the motion, the Court provides the following

statement of facts. Strickland v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co., 692 F.3d

1151, 1154 (11th Cir. 2012) This statement does not

represent actual findings of fact. Rich v. Sec'y, Fla. Dep't of

Corr., 716 F.3d 525, 530 (11th Cir. 2013). Instead, the Court

has provided the statement simply to place the Court's legal

analysis in the context of this particular case or controversy.

5
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 6 of 81

1. The Parties

Plaintiff resides in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. (Dep. of

Kiersten Quick (Docket Entry No. 33-16) at 11.) Defendant

Geddie resides in Dade County, Georgia, and he is a Trooper

First Class 3 with the Georgia State Patrol based out of Post

41 in LaFayette, Georgia. (Decl. of Joseph Geddie (Docket

Entry No. 39-3)112; Dep. of Joseph Geddie (Docket Entry No.

33-17) at 19.) Prior to becoming a state trooper, Defendant

Geddie was a deputy with the Dade County Sheriff's Office.

(Geddie Decl. IT 2.) During the time period relevant to this

action, Defendant Reyes was a deputy with the Dade County

Sheriff's Office. (Aff. of Denny Reyes (Docket Entry No. 44-2)

IT 2; Dep. of Denny Reyes (Docket Entry No. 33-18) at 9;

RSMF IT 1; PRRSMF ii 1 . )

6
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 7 of 81

2. The Car Crash

On November 23, 2016, Defendant Geddie responded to

a one-vehicle crash involving Jessica Gaha, who is Plaintiff's

daughter. (GSMF IT 1; PRGSMF IT 1;1 PSMF 1; GRPSMF IT

1; RRPSMF 1.) The accident occurred at night at New

England Road and Main Avenue in Dade County, Georgia.

(Geddie Decl. Ex. A; PSMF ¶ 1; GRPSMF ¶ 1; RRPSMF IT 1.)

Ms. Gaha's vehicle left the roadway, struck a tree, and

became stuck in a ditch on the side of the road. (PSMF ¶ 2;

GRPSMF IT 2; RRPSMF IT 2.)

After receiving a phone call from Ms. Gaha about the

crash, Plaintiff called 911 to report the accident. (PSMF IT 3;

I Plaintiff objected to this proposed fact to the extent that it


relied on a Declaration from Lieutenant Shawn Prather.
(PRGSMF ¶ 1.) Plaintiff, however, failed to file a notice of
objection to that Declaration. The Court has not considered the
impermissible or irrelevant portions of Lieutenant Prather's
Declaration.
7
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 8 of 81

GRPSMF IT 3; RRPSMF IT 3.) Defendant Geddie responded

to the crash and arrived at the scene at approximately 9:20

p.m. (Geddie Decl. Ex. A; PSMF IT 5; GRPSMF IT 5; RRPSMF

IT 5; Pl.'s Ex. 4 (Docket Entry No. 33-6) at 1.) Defendant Reyes


also responded to the crash, arriving at approximately the

same time. (Reyes Aff. IT 3; Reyes Dep. at 19-20; RSMF IT 2;

PRRSMF If 2; PSMF ¶ 5; GRPSMF 11 5; RRPSMF IT 5.) By

the time Defendants arrived at the scene, Ms. Gaha's friend,

P.P., had arrived in her truck to assist Ms. Gaha. (PSMF 116;

GRPSMF 116; RRPSMF 116.)

After Defendant Geddie arrived on the scene and spoke

with Ms. Gaha, Defendant Geddie did a routine GCIC check.

(GSMF IT 3; PRGSMF If 3.)2 The GCIC check revealed that

2 The video depicts an individual who appears to be Defendant


Reyes interacting with Ms. Gaha before Defendant Geddie spoke
with Ms. Gaha. (Video at 2:27-3:10.)
8
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 9 of 81

Ms. Gaha was driving with a suspended license and with

expired tags. (GSMF IT 3; PRGSMF ¶ 3; PSMF IT 9; GRPSMF

11 9.) Defendant Geddie also investigated the mechanism of

the accident, including asking questions about Ms. Gaha's

speed and the road conditions, and asking whether the

property owner was concerned about damage to his tree.

(PSMF li 8; GRPSMF ¶ 8; Geddie Dep. at 83-84.) Defendant

Geddie placed Ms. Gaha under arrest based on her

suspended license and expired tags and other violations.

(GSMF If 3; PRGSMF IT 3.) Defendant Geddie concluded that

there was no suspicion that Ms. Gaha was intoxicated or

otherwise impaired by alcohol or other substances. (PSMF IT

11, as modified per RRPSMF IT 11; GRPSMF 1111.)

Plaintiff contends that, while Defendant Geddie checked

Ms. Gaha's license, Ms. Gaha and P.P. were in close

proximity to each other and to the wrecked car. (PSMF IT 10;


9
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 10 of 81

GRPSMF IT 10.) Plaintiff also contends that, when Defendant

Geddie stated that he was going to arrest Ms. Gaha, PP.

approached the area where Defendant Geddie and Ms. Gaha

stood, coming within touching distance. (PSMF IT 12;

GRPSMF IT 12.)

According to Defendant Reyes, Defendant Geddie was in

charge of investigating the crash. (Reyes Aff. ¶ 4.) Defendant

Reyes contends that he did not give orders or directions to

individuals at the scene concerning which movements were

proper or improper. (Id.)

As Defendant Reyes was getting out of his car in a church

parking lot near the crash scene, a black SUV parked in the

church parking lot. (Reyes Dep. at 21; RSMF IT 3; PRRSMF

113; PSMF 1119; GRPSMF IT 19; RRPSMF IT 19.) Plaintiff and

her fiancé, Oswaldo Lopez, got out of the SUV. (RSMF IT 3;

PRRSMF 11 3; PSMF IT 19; GRPSMF IT 19; RRPSMF 11 19;


10
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 11 of 81

Reyes Dep. at 21.) Plaintiff and Mr. Lopez walked toward the

crash scene. (RSMF 11 4, as modified per PRRSMF If 4.)

Defendant Reyes described Plaintiff and Mr. Lopez as walking

"abruptly" toward the scene. (Reyes Dep. at 21.)

3. Ms. Gaha's Arrest and Events Leading to


Plaintiff's Arrest

Ms. Gaha's arrest is depicted on a video from a dash

camera (the "video") mounted in Defendant Geddie's patrol

car. (Geddie Decl. Ex. C.) The video shows Defendant

Geddie placing Ms. Gaha under arrest at time marker 7:30.

(GSMF 116; PRGSMF IR 6; Video at 7:30.)

While Defendant Geddie was in the process of arresting

Ms. Gaha, Ms. Gaha handed P.P. one of her personal items

and asked her to get her purse from the car. (PSMF 11 13;

GRPSMF ¶ 13.) Defendants did not tell PP. not to enter the

car or not to remove Ms. Gaha's personal effects. (PSMF IT

11
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 12 of 81

14; GRPSMF If 14.) P.P. went to the car, opened the driver's

side door, sat in the driver's seat, found Ms. Gaha's purse, and

removed the purse from the vehicle. (PSMF ¶ 15; GRPSMF

IT 15.) Defendants did not say anything to P.P. about the

purse. (PSMF IT 16; GRPSMF IT 16.)

While Defendant Geddie attempted to handcuff Ms.

Gaha, Ms. Gaha asked P.P. if she could get her phone from

her pocket. (PSMF IT 17; GRPSMF 1117.) Defendant Geddie

responded that it was fine for P.P. to retrieve Ms. Gaha's

phone from her pocket, and P.P. reached into Ms. Gaha's

jacket pocket. (PSMF ¶ 18; GRPSMF IT 18.)

While Defendant Geddie was in the process of

handcuffing Ms. Gaha, Plaintiff came onto the scene and

approached Defendant Geddie and Ms. Gaha. (GSMF IT 4, as

modified per PRGSMF If 4; Video at 9:08-9:10.) Ms. Gaha

called out to Plaintiff, "Mom, I'm going to jail. Can you come
12
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 13 of 81

get me?" (PSMF ¶20; GRPSMF 1120; RRPSMF 1120.) P.P.

stated, "They're taking her to jail." (PSMF IT 21; GRPSMF ¶

20; RRPSMF 1121.) Plaintiff stated, "Are you fucking kidding

me!" (GSMF 11 4, as modified per PRGSMF IT 4; Video at

9:09.) Plaintiff contends that she directed her statement

toward Ms. Gaha. (Quick Dep. at 18-19.) Defendant Geddie

contends that he perceived Plaintiff as being "highly irate."

(Geddie Decl. IT 4.) According to Plaintiff, she was "concerned

upset," not "angry upset." (Quick Dep. at 16.) The dash

camera video shows Plaintiff approaching and stating, "Are

you fucking kidding me!" at time marker 9:09. (GSMF If 7;

PRGSMF 117; Video at 9:09.) Plaintiff was approximately five

or ten feet from Defendant Geddie when she made this

statement. (RSMF IT 6, as modified per PRRSMF IT 6; see

also Quick Dep. at 19 (stating that Plaintiff was close to

Defendant Geddie when she made this statement).) Mr.


13
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 14 of 81

Lopez was visible on the video at this time. (PSMF IT 24, as

modified per GRPSMF IT 24.)

Defendant Geddie advised Plaintiff to go back where she

came from, stating, "Ma'am, go back over there and stand."

(Geddie Decl. ¶ 4; Video at 9:14.) According to Defendant

Geddie, he gave this direction because of Plaintiff's demeanor

and because he was not finished processing the scene.

(Geddie Decl. IT 4.) According to Defendant Geddie, he was

referring to the location where Plaintiff parked her vehicle,

which was approximately fifty yards away in a church parking

lot. (Id.) Defendants also contend that Defendant Geddie was

pointing in the direction of Plaintiff's vehicle. (Video at 9:14.)

Defendant Geddie said to Plaintiff, "Go right back over

there and stand." (Video at 9:16.) Defendants contend that

Defendant Geddie pointed in the direction of Plaintiff's vehicle.

(Id.)
14
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 15 of 81

Plaintiff and Mr. Lopez walked toward the passenger side

of Ms. Gaha's wrecked vehicle. (RSMF IT 9; PRRSMF IT 9.)

Defendant Geddie stated, "Ma'am, go right back over there, or

you will go to jail for obstruction," while pointing. (Video at

9:22.) Defendant Geddie stated, "Right now." (Id. at 9:27.)

Defendant Geddie also stated, "Go back over there where you

was at," again pointing. (Id. at 9:28-9:29.) According to

Plaintiff, she did not understand Defendant Geddie's

commands as instructing her to go back to any particular

location, and she stepped back as instructed. (Quick Dep. at

18, 20.)

At the time of those commands, Defendant Geddie was

in the process of arresting Ms. Gaha and had not yet placed

her or secured her in his patrol car. (GSMF 1111; PRGSMF IT

11.) Defendant Geddie eventually secured Ms. Gaha with

handcuffs and placed her in his patrol car. (Video at 10:06;


15
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 16 of 81

PSMF IT 35; GRPSMF IT 35; RRPSMF IT 35.) Plaintiff contends

that Ms. Gaha stated that her keys were in her car, and that

Ms. Gaha asked if Plaintiff could come get her from jail and

take care of her car. (Video at 9:30.) Plaintiff opened the

passenger side door of the wrecked car. (Id. at 10:04-10:06)

At that time, P.P. was seated inside the wrecked car in the

front driver's side, while Mr. Lopez was standing by the driver's

side door. (PSMF 39; GRPSMF 11 39; RRPSMF IT 39.)

Plaintiff contends that Defendants did not react to P.P.'s

presence inside the vehicle. (PSMF IT 40; GRPSMF II 40.)


Plaintiff did not hear P.P. or Mr. Lopez refuse instructions or

argue with the officers. (Quick Dep. at 99-100.)

Defendant Geddie approached Plaintiff and said, "Hey,

ma'am, I am going to tell you one more time to go right back

over there, or you are going to jail," pointing in the direction of

Plaintiff's vehicle. (RSMF IT14; PRRSMF IT 14; Video at


16
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 17 of 81

10:07.) Defendant Geddie then approached Plaintiff and said,

"Nope, you go right over there," pointing again in the direction

of Plaintiff's vehicle. (RSMF IT 15; PRRSMF ¶ 15; Video at

10:13.) Defendant Geddie stated, "Get over there right now,"

again pointing in the direction of Plaintiff's vehicle. (RSMF If

16; PRRSMF ¶ 16; Video at 10:15.) Defendant Geddie then

said, "I don't care what. You go now," pointing in the direction

of Plaintiff's vehicle. (RSMF II 17; PRRSMF IT 17; Video at

10:16.) Defendant Geddie said, "You go now," pointing.

(RSMF il 19; PRRSMF IT 19; Video at 10:19.)

Defendant Geddie stated, "Do you want to go to jail?"

(RSMF IT 18; PRRSMF 1118; Video at 10:21.) Plaintiff stated,

"What are you going to take me to jail for?" (GSMF IT 15, as

modified per PRGSMF IT 15; Video at 10:22-10:28.) Plaintiff

also commented, "I know the law. I was married to an attorney

for 20 years." (GSMF IT 15, as modified per PRGSMF IT 15;


17
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 18 of 81

Video at 10:22-10:28.) Plaintiff further stated, "I'm not

obstructing anything." (GSMF ¶ 15, as modified per PRGSMF

IT 15; Video at 10:22-10:28.) According to Plaintiff, she

decided that Defendant Geddie had given her an "unlawful

order," and she "chose not to obey it." (Quick Dep. at 23, 62-

63, 96-97.) Plaintiff testified that she felt that Defendant

Geddie was "bullying" her and she was "fed up with it." (Id. at

23.)

Defendant Geddie responded, "Yes, you are," and

pointed his index finger at Plaintiff. (PSMF IT 48; GRPSMF IT

48; RRPSMF IT 8; Video at 10:29.) Plaintiff responded, "You're

harassing me." (Video at 10:30.) Plaintiff gestured with her

hands during this exchange. (PSMF IT 49, as modified per

GRPSMF IT 49.) The video depicts Plaintiff raising her right

hand while talking with Defendant Geddie. (Video at 10:30.)

According to Defendant Geddie, he did not know Plaintiff's


18
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 19 of 81

intentions and he did not know whether she would try to reach

for his weapon. (Geddie Decl. IT 4; Geddie Dep. at 41-43.)

Plaintiff did not touch Defendant Geddie. (Geddie Dep. at 38.)

Defendant Geddie claims that he grabbed Plaintiff's raised

hand and spun around with her, taking her to the ground.

(Geddie Decl. IT 4; Geddie Dep. at 38.) Plaintiff claims that

Defendant Geddie grabbed her arm, twisted it behind her

back, tackled her in a single fluid motion, and slammed her

body into the ditch, without any forewarning. (Quick Dep. at

28-29, 32, 78-79, 92-93.) In any event, the video depicts

Plaintiff stating, "Get your hands off me," before Plaintiff and

Defendant Geddie fall to the ground. (Video at 10:30-10:32.)

The video does not depict Defendant Geddie announcing that

he was placing Plaintiff under arrest. (See generally Video;

see also Quick Dep. at 61-62, 81, 98-99 (stating that

Defendant Geddie never announced that Plaintiff was under


19
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 20 of 81

arrest); Geddie Dep. at 41 (testifying that Defendant Geddie

did not tell Plaintiff that she was under arrest or tell her to put

her hands behind her back before taking her to the ground).)

While Plaintiff and Defendant Geddie were on the ground

with Defendant Geddie attempting to place Plaintiff in

handcuffs, Plaintiff got her left hand and arm away from

Defendant Geddie and kept them under her body to protect

them. (Quick Dep. at 31, 82.) Plaintiff contends that

Defendant Geddie pulled her arm back very hard to place it in

handcuffs, and that, during the attempt to handcuff her,

Defendant Geddie slammed her body into the ground, causing

her head to hit the ground a few times. (Id. at 28, 32, 80, 95,

102.) According to Plaintiff, while Defendant Geddie was

attempting to handcuff her, Defendant Geddie straddled her

with his knees on the ground and placed his weight on her

lower back or bottom. (Id. at 93-94, 101-02.) Defendant


20
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 21 of 81

Geddie handcuffed Plaintiff and brought her to her feet.

(Geddie Decl. ¶ 4.) Plaintiff testified that her head did not hit

the ground after Defendant Geddie placed her in handcuffs.

(GSMF ¶ 22; PRGSMF ¶ 22; RSMF 1]. 41; PRRSMF If 41.)

Defendant Geddie denies using any other force against

Plaintiff. (Geddie Decl. ¶ 5.) Plaintiff admits that Defendant

Geddie did not kick or strike her, and that he did not use a

weapon or instrument to effect her arrest. (GSMF ¶ 20;

PRGSMF 11. 20.) Defendant Geddie is larger than Plaintiff.

(Geddie Dep. at 36-37.)

The video depicts Mr. Lopez walking toward Plaintiff and

Defendant Geddie while they were on the ground. (RSMF 11

23; PRRSMF 1123 (admitting RSMF IT 23, but contending the

statement is immaterial); Video at 10:33.) Defendant Geddie

yelled for Mr. Lopez to get back. (RSMF 1124; PRRSMF ¶ 24

(admitting RSMF IT 24, but arguing the statement is


21
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 22 of 81

immaterial); Video at 10:36.) Defendant Reyes walked around

the passenger side of the wrecked car and stood between

Defendant Geddie and Mr. Lopez. (RSMF 11. 25; PRRSMF IT

25 (admitting RSMF II 25, but contending it is immaterial);

Video at 10:38.) Mr. Lopez, who was very animated,

complained about Plaintiff being arrested. (RSMF IT 26;

PRRSMF If 26 (admitting RSMF II 26, but arguing it is

immaterial); Video at 10:38-11:01.) Defendant Reyes told Mr.

Lopez, "He is not going to let her go. So you might as well just

shut up and go." (RSMF 1127; PRRSMF IT 27 (admitting RSMF

IT 27, but contending it is immaterial); Video at 10:56.) Mr.

Lopez continued to complain about Plaintiff's being arrested.

(RSMF 11 28; PRRSMF IT 28 (admitting RSMF 11 28, but

arguing it is immaterial); Video at 11:00-11:30.)

Once Defendant Geddie handcuffed Plaintiff, Defendant

Reyes and Defendant Geddie picked Plaintiff up and escorted


22
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 23 of 81

her to Defendant Reyes' patrol car. (RSMF if 29; PRRSMF IT

29; Video at 11:30.)

According to Defendant Reyes, Defendant Geddie made

the decision to arrest Plaintiff. (Reyes Aff. IT 5.) Plaintiff

testified that Defendant Reyes did not appear to play a role in

the initial decision to arrest Plaintiff. (Quick Dep. at 71.)

Plaintiff testified that Defendant Reyes "did not have anything

to do with [her] arrest other than escorting [her] and allowing

it to happen." (Id. at 76.) Defendant Reyes did not appear on

the video again until the 10:11 mark, and the video depicted

Defendant Reyes talking with P.P. on the driver's side of Ms.

Gaha's car during most of the time that Defendant Geddie was

giving commands to Plaintiff. (Reyes Dep. at 22, 31, 34, 46,

53, 64; Video at 10:11-10:20.) According to Defendant Reyes,

he was not entirely attentive to what Plaintiff was doing during

these events, and he was engaging with P.P. and Mr. Lopez
23
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 24 of 81

while Defendant Geddie was effectuating Plaintiff's arrest. (Id.

at 31, 48, 64.) Defendant Reyes did not see Defendant Geddie

slam Plaintiff's head into the ground. (RSMF ¶ 34; PRRSMF

IT 34.) According to Defendant Reyes, he did not see

Defendant Geddie tackle Plaintiff, and he did not know how

Plaintiff and Defendant Geddie went to the ground. (Reyes

Dep. at 45, 63.)

4. Plaintiff's Transport to Jail and Treatment

Defendant Reyes transported Plaintiff to the jail after her

arrest. (Reyes Aff. II 6; Reyes Dep. at 53.) According to

Defendant Reyes, he transported Plaintiff to the jail because

Defendant Geddie already had an arrestee secured in the

back of his patrol car, and Plaintiff's arrest had been

completed by the time that Defendant Reyes transported

Plaintiff to the jail. (Reyes Aff. IT 6.)

24
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 25 of 81

After Plaintiff's arrest, Defendant Reyes informed the

Dade County Sheriff's Office that Plaintiff was complaining of

arm pain, and Plaintiff was transported to a hospital for

evaluation. (Quick Dep. at 35-36.) X-rays taken of Plaintiff's

arm at the hospital revealed that Plaintiff's arm was not

broken, and Plaintiff was diagnosed only with contusions,

swelling, and bruising. (Id. at 37-39; Quick Dep. Ex. D-9

(Docket Entry No. 39-5) at 1-3.) Plaintiff did not request that

the hospital staff check her for injuries other than to her arm.

(Quick Dep. at 39.) The hospital released Plaintiff to the jail.

(Pl.'s Ex. B (Docket Entry No. 33-3).)

The hospital gave Plaintiff one tramadol pill at the

hospital, which Plaintiff took. (GSMF IT 26; PRGSMF if 26.)


Plaintiff received a prescription for tramadol, which she did not

fill because she went on vacation. (GSMF If 26; PRGSMF If

26.) Plaintiff took over-the-counter medications such as


25
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 26 of 81

Tylenol or Advil for pain, and, by the time she returned from

vacation four days later, she did not need medication. (GSMF

IT 26; PRGSMF IT 26.) Plaintiff never lost consciousness

during the incident. (GSMF 1126; PRGSMF 1126.)

5. Defendant Geddie Remains on the Scene

The video depicts that Defendant Geddie remained on

the scene until the tow truck driver arrived to tow Ms. Gaha's

car. (Video at 25:15-31:14; see also Geddie Dep. at 79-80

(stating that Defendant Geddie remained on the scene until

the wrecker got Ms. Gaha's car).) After Plaintiff's arrest,

Defendant Geddie permitted P.P. to go into the wrecked car

to remove additional items. (PSMF 11-159-60; GRPSMF ITIT 59-

60.)

6. Criminal Charges Against Plaintiff

Defendant Geddie wrote an Officer's Statement in

Support of Warrantless Arrest and two Georgia Uniform Traffic


26
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 27 of 81

Citation, Summons, and Accusations for Plaintiff. (GSMF IT

28; PRGSMF ¶ 28.) The citations listed the offenses of

obstruction of a law enforcement officer under 0.C.G.A. § 16-

10-24(b) and disorderly conduct. (GSMF ¶ 28; PRGSMF IT

28.) The State filed a Motion to Enter NoIle Prosequi, which

the Superior Court of Dade County, Georgia, granted on

January 13, 2017. (Pl.'s Ex. 14 (Docket Entry No. 33-12).)

7. Previous Actions Involving Defendant


Geddie

Defendant Geddie was involved in another action while

he was a deputy with the Dade County Sheriff's Office. Reese

v. Herbert, 527 F.3d 1253, 1273 (11th Cir. 2008); Geddie Dep.

at 11. Defendant Geddie personally paid no money as a result

of the settlement in that action, and he testified that he did not

change the way he practiced policing as a result of that action.

(Geddie Dep. at 13.) Defendant Geddie also was involved in

27
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 28 of 81

another case arising from his arrest of an individual for

disorderly conduct at a crash scene. (Id. at 13-17.) Defendant

Geddie personally paid no money for the settlement in that

action, and he testified that this incident and the settlement did

not influence the way that he practices law enforcement. (Id.

at 17-18.)

B. Procedural Background

On August 18, 2017, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. (Compl.

(Docket Entry No. 1).) Plaintiff asserted the following claims:

(1) a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 false arrest claim against both

Defendants (id. 7 44-50); (2) a § 1983 malicious prosecution

claim against Defendant Geddie (id. IrR 51-56); (3) a § 1983

excessive force claim against both Defendants (id. TT 57-62);

and (4) a § 1983 First Amendment retaliation claim against

both Defendants (id. rIT 63-71).

28
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 29 of 81

On June 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed her Motion for Partial

Summary Judgment. (Pl.'s Mot. Partial Summ. J. (Docket

Entry No. 33).) On July 2, 2018, Defendants Reyes and

Geddie filed their Motions for Partial Summary Judgment.

(Def. Reyes' Mot. Summ. J. (Docket Entry No. 37); Def.

Geddie's Mot. Summ. J. (Docket Entry No. 39).) The briefing

processes for the Motions are complete, and the Court finds

that the matters are ripe for resolution.

III. Summary Judgment Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) allows a court to

grant summary judgment when "there is no genuine dispute

as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment

as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The party seeking

summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing the

Court that summary judgment is appropriate and may satisfy

this burden by pointing to materials in the record. Jones v.


29
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 30 of 81

UPS Ground Freight, 683 F.3d 1283, 1292 (11th Cir. 2012).

Once the moving party has supported its motion adequately,

the burden shifts to the non-movant to rebut that showing by

coming forward with specific evidence that demonstrates the

existence of a genuine issue for trial. Id.

When evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the

Court must view the evidence and draw all reasonable factual

inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the

motion. Morton v. Kirkwood, 707 F.3d 1276, 1280 (11th Cir.

2013); Strickland, 692 F.3d at 1154. The Court also must

"resolve all reasonable doubts about the facts in favor of the

non-movant." Morton, 707 F.3d at 1280 (internal quotation

marks and citations omitted). Further, the Court may not make

credibility determinations, weigh conflicting evidence to

resolve disputed factual issues, or assess the quality of the

evidence presented. Strickland, 692 F.3d at 1154. Finally,


30
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 31 of 81

the Court does not make factual determinations. Rich, 716

F.3d at 530.

The Court further observes that the standard for a motion

for summary judgment differs depending on whether the party

moving for summary judgment also bears the burden of proof

on the relevant issue. As the United States Court of Appeals

for the Sixth Circuit has noted:

When the moving party does not have the burden of


proof on the issue, he need show only that the
opponent cannot sustain his burden at trial. But
where the moving party has the burden—the plaintiff
on a claim for relief or the defendant on an
affirmative defense—his showing must be sufficient
for the court to hold that no reasonable trier of fact
could find other than for the moving party.

Calderone v. United States, 799 F.2d 254, 259 (6th Cir. 1986)

(quoting William W. Schwarzer, Summary Judgment Under

the Federal Rules: Defining Genuine Issues of Material Fact,

99 F.R.D. 465, 487-88 (1984)). "Where the movant also bears

31
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 32 of 81

the burden of proof on the claims at trial, it 'must do more than

put the issue into genuine doubt; indeed, [it] must remove

genuine doubt from the issue altogether." Franklin v.

Montgomery Cty., Md., Civil Action No. DKC 2005-0489, 2006

WL 2632298, at *5 (D. Md. Sept. 13, 2006) (quoting Hoover

Color Corp. v. Bayer Corp., 199 F.3d 160, 164 (4th Cir. 1999))

(alteration in original).

IV. Defendant Reyes' Motion for Summary Judgment

Plaintiff asserted three claims against Defendant Reyes:

(1) § 1983 false arrest; (2) § 1983 First Amendment retaliation;

and (3) § 1983 excessive force. Plaintiff agreed to dismiss her

§ 1983 excessive force claim against Defendant Reyes in her

response to Defendant Reyes' Motion for Summary

Judgment, and the Court grants Defendant Reyes' Motion for

Summary Judgment as to that claim. (See PL's Resp. Def.

Geddie's Mot. Summ. J. (Docket Entry No. 46) at 1 n.1


32
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 33 of 81

("[Defendant] Reyes also argues that he is not liable for

Defendant Geddie's excessive force. [Plaintiff] agrees to

dismiss the excessive force claim against Defendant Reyes

only.").

Defendant Reyes asserts the defense of qualified

immunity with respect to Plaintiff's remaining claims. The

Court first sets forth the general standard governing qualified

immunity, and then applies that standard to Plaintiff's claims

against Defendant Reyes.

A. Qualified Immunity: In General

Defendant Reyes asserts the defense of qualified

immunity with respect to Plaintiff's § 1983 false arrest claims

asserted against him in his individual capacity. Qualified

immunity protects government officials performing

discretionary functions from suits for damages brought against

them in their individual capacities. Morris v. Town of


33
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 34 of 81

Lexington, Ala., 748 F.3d 1316, 1321 (11th Cir. 2014). The

Eleventh Circuit applies a two-part analysis to determine

whether a defendant is entitled to qualified immunity. Id. at

1322.

Under the qualified immunity analysis used in this Circuit,

the defendant first must prove that the allegedly

unconstitutional conduct occurred while the defendant official

was acting within the scope of the official's discretionary

authority. Penley v. Eslinger, 605 F.3d 843, 849 (11th Cir.

2010). To determine whether the defendant acted within her

discretionary authority, the Court asks "whether the

[defendant] was (a) performing a legitimate job-related

function (that is, pursuing a job-related goal), (b) through

means that were within [the defendant's] power to utilize."

34
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 35 of 81

Holloman ex rel. Holloman v. Harland, 370 F.3d 1252, 1265

(11th Cir. 2004).3

Once a defendant shows that he or she acted within his

or her discretionary authority, the burden shifts to the plaintiff

to demonstrate that (1) the defendant's conduct violated the

plaintiff's constitutional rights and (2) that the constitutional

rights violated were "clearly established when the defendant

committed the act complained of." Morris, 748 F.3d at 1322

(internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also

Penley, 605 F.3d at 849 ("Once the defendant establishes that

3 In making this determination, the Court does not inquire


"whether it was within the defendant's authority to commit the
allegedly illegal act." Holloman ex rel Holloman, 370 F.3d at 1266
(internal quotation marks omitted). Instead, the Court must "look
to the general nature of the defendant's action, temporarily putting
aside the fact that it may have been committed for an
unconstitutional purpose, in an unconstitutional manner, to an
unconstitutional extent, or under constitutionally inappropriate
circumstances." Id.

35
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 36 of 81

he was acting within his discretionary authority, the burden

shifts to the plaintiff to show that qualified immunity is not

appropriate." (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

The qualified immunity inquiry can begin with either prong.

Morris, 748 F.3d at 1322. If the plaintiff fails to make either of

those showings, however, then the defendant is entitled to

qualified immunity. Keating v. City of Miami, 598 F.3d 753,

762 (11th Cir. 2010); see also Smith ex rel. Smith v.

Siegelman, 322 F.3d 1290, 1298 (11th Cir. 2003) (finding that

defendants were entitled to qualified immunity based on

plaintiff's failure to allege constitutional violation).

"The relevant, dispositive inquiry in determining whether

a right is clearly established is whether it would be clear to a

reasonable [individual in the defendant's position] that his

conduct was unlawful in the situation he confronted." Morris,

748 F.3d at 1322 (emphasis in original) (internal quotation


36
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 37 of 81

marks and citation omitted). Although a plaintiff "need not

demonstrate that there is case-law specifically addressing his

factual scenario, existing precedent must have placed the

statutory or constitutional question beyond debate." Id.

(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A plaintiff may

demonstrate that a right is clearly established by proceeding

in one of three ways:

First, [the plaintiff] may show that "a materially


similar case has already been decided." Second,
[the plaintiff] can point to a "broader, clearly
established principle [that] should control the novel
facts [of the] situation." Finally, the conduct involved
in the case may "so obviously violate[] th[e]
constitution that prior case law is unnecessary."
Under controlling law, [the plaintiff] must carry [his]
burden by looking to the law as interpreted at the
time by the United States Supreme Court, the
Eleventh Circuit, or the [Georgia] Supreme Court.

Id. (some alterations in original) (quoting Terrell v. Smith, 668

F.3d 1244, 1255 (11th Cir. 2012)).

37
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 38 of 81

Here, it is clear that Defendant Reyes acted in his

discretionary authority during the events that gave rise to this

lawsuit. The Court next determines whether Defendant Reyes

violated clearly established law.

B. Application to this Case

1. False Arrest

It is undisputed that Defendant Reyes did not personally

arrest Plaintiff. Plaintiff, however, seeks to hold Defendant

Reyes liable for failing to intervene to prevent Defendant

Geddie from arresting Plaintiff. "[A] participant in an arrest,

even if not the arresting officer, may be liable if he knew the

arrest lacked any constitutional basis and yet participated in

some way." Wilkerson v. Seymour, 736 F.3d 974, 980 (11th

Cir. 2013); see also Jones v. Cannon, 174 F.3d 1271, 1284

(11th Cir. 1999) (noting that a jury issue existed whether a

non-arresting officer could be liable for participating in the


38
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 39 of 81

plaintiffs arrest). If, however, an officer lacks "the requisite

information to put him on notice that an unlawful arrest was

occurring or had occurred," the officer cannot be liable for

failing to intervene to prevent the unlawful arrest. Wilkerson,

736 F.3d at 980.

Here, Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that Defendant

Reyes had sufficient involvement in, or control over, Plaintiff's

arrest. Although Plaintiff speculates that Defendant Reyes

was aware of the events that were transpiring between

Plaintiff and Defendant Geddie, Defendant Reyes is not visible

on the video for a portion of Plaintiff's interaction with

Defendant Geddie. Just prior to Plaintiff's arrest, the video

depicts Defendant Reyes speaking with PP. on the driver's

side of Ms. Gaha's car while Defendant Geddie interacted with

Plaintiff on the other side of Ms. Gaha's car. The arrest itself

transpired quickly, and the evidence failed to demonstrate that


39
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 40 of 81

Defendant Reyes had sufficient knowledge of all that

transpired between Defendant Geddie and Plaintiff to be

deemed to have participated in Plaintiff's arrest. Moreover,

there is no evidence that Defendant Reyes played any role in

the decision to arrest Plaintiff. Instead, the evidence indicates

that Defendant Geddie alone made the decision to arrest

Plaintiff, without input from Defendant Reyes. (Reyes Aff. lilT

4-5.) Moreover, as discussed infra Part V.A., at least arguable

probable cause existed to support Plaintiff's arrest. Under

those circumstances, Plaintiff failed to show that Defendant

Reyes is liable to Plaintiff for failing to intervene to prevent

Defendant Geddie from arresting Plaintiff.4

4 Plaintiff cannot hold Defendant Reyes liable for her arrest


simply because Defendant Reyes transported Plaintiff from the
arrest scene to the Jail. The evidence in the record demonstrates
that Plaintiff's arrest had been completed by the time that
Defendant Reyes transported Plaintiff to the Jail. (Reyes Aff. ¶ 6.)
40
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 41 of 81

Alternatively, Plaintiff failed to show that Defendant

Reyes' failure to intervene to prevent her arrest violated

clearly established law. Plaintiff pointed to no pre-existing

case law from the United States Supreme Court, the Eleventh

Circuit, or the Georgia Supreme Court that would have put

Defendant Reyes on notice that, under the circumstances, his

failure to intervene to prevent Defendant Geddie from

arresting Plaintiff was unlawful. Defendant Reyes therefore is

entitled to qualified immunity with respect to Plaintiff's § 1983

false arrest claim.

2. First Amendment Retaliation

Plaintiff also contends that her arrest was in retaliation for

exercising her First Amendment rights. Defendant Reyes

correctly points out that, with respect to this claim, "the right in

question is not the general right to be free from retaliation for

one's speech, but the more specific right to be free from a


41
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 42 of 81

retaliatory arrest that is otherwise supported by probable

cause." Reichle v. Howards, 566 U.S. 658, 665 (2012). In

2012, the Supreme Court stated, "Mills Court has never held

that there is such a right." Id. (footnote omitted). The

Supreme Court noted that a reasonable officer reasonably

could have relied on its decision in Hartman v. Moore, 547

U.S. 250 (2006), "which held that a plaintiff cannot state a

claim of retaliatory prosecution in violation of the First

Amendment if the charges were supported by probable

cause," to conclude that Hartman's rule also applied to

retaliatory arrests. Id. The Eleventh Circuit consistently held

that "the existence of probable cause to arrest" defeated a

plaintiff's First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim. Dahl v.

Holley, 312 F.3d 1228, 1236 (11th Cir. 2002). The Supreme

Court, however, recently abrogated this line of authority,

finding that a plaintiff "need not prove the absence of probable


42
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 43 of 81

cause to maintain a claim of retaliatory arrest." Lozman v. City

of Riviera Bch., Fla., 138 S. Ct. 1945, 1955 (2018). As of

November 23, 2016, the date of Plaintiff's arrest, however, the

rule in this Circuit was that the existence of probable cause

defeated a First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim. See

Nunnelee v. Morgan, 550 F. App'x 716, 717 (2013) (per

curiam) ("[U]nder our binding case law, the existence of

probable cause continues to bar a retaliatory arrest claim."

(footnote omitted)); see also Gates v. Khokhar, 884 F.3d

1290, 1298 (11th Cir. 2018) (noting that, in connection with an

arrest that occurred on November 26, 2014, "when an officer

has arguable probable cause to arrest, he is entitled to

qualified immunity both from Fourth Amendment claims for

false arrest and from First Amendment claims stemming from

the arrest."). As discussed infra, arguable probable cause

existed to arrest Plaintiff for obstruction, and a reasonable


43
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 44 of 81

officer could have concluded that a retaliatory arrest based on

probable cause did not violate the Constitution. Under those

circumstances, Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that her

arrest violated clearly established law. Defendant Reyes

therefore is entitled to qualified immunity with respect to

Plaintiffs First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim.

C. Summary

In sum, Defendant Reyes is entitled to summary

judgment as to Plaintiff's claims asserted against him. First,

Plaintiff abandoned her § 1983 excessive force claim against

Defendant Geddie. Second, Defendant Reyes is entitled to

qualified immunity with respect to Plaintiff's § 1983 false arrest

and § 1983 First Amendment retaliatory arrest claims asserted

against him. The Court therefore grants Defendant Reyes'

Motion for Summary Judgment.

44
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 45 of 81

V. Defendant Geddie's Motion for Summary Judgment

Plaintiff asserts four claims against Defendant Geddie:

(1) § 1983 false arrest; (2) § 1983 malicious prosecution; (3)

§ 1983 First Amendment retaliatory arrest; and (4) § 1983

excessive force. Defendant Geddie asserts the defense of

qualified immunity with respect to all of those claims. The

Court applies the qualified immunity standard set forth supra

Part IV.A., finds that the evidence demonstrates that

Defendant Geddie was acting within his discretionary authority

at the time relevant to this action, and addresses Plaintiff's

claims in turn.

A. § 1983 False Arrest

As an initial matter, "[t]here is no question that an arrest

without probable cause to believe a crime has been committed

violates the Fourth Amendment." Madiwale v. Savaiko, 117

F.3d 1321, 1324 (11th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted). Qualified


45
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 46 of 81

immunity, however, will protect Defendant Geddie if arguable

probable cause existed to arrest Plaintiff. Storck v. City of

Coral Springs, 354 F.3d 1307, 1315 (11th Cir. 2003).

"'Arguable probable cause exists when an officer reasonably

could have believed that probable cause existed, in light of the

information the officer possessed." Id. (quoting Durruthy v.

Pastor, 351 F.3d 1080, 1089 (11th Cir. 2003) (internal

quotation marks omitted)). "'Even law enforcement officials

who reasonably but mistakenly conclude that probable cause

is present are entitled to immunity." Wood v. Kesler, 323 F.3d

872, 878 (11th Cir. 2003) (quoting Hunter v. Bryant, 502 U.S.

224, 227 (1991)). Moreover, qualified immunity applies so

long as an officer "has 'arguable probable cause to arrest for

any offense." Merenda v. Tabor, 506 F. App'x 862, 865 (11th

Cir. 2013) (quoting Grider v. City of Auburn, Ala., 618 F.3d

1240, 1257 (11th Cir. 2010)).


46
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 47 of 81

When determining whether probable cause exists to

support a prosecution, the Court considers whether the

prosecuting officer's actions were "objectively reasonable

based on the totality of the circumstances." Kingsland v. City

of Miami, 382 F.3d 1220, 1226 (11th Cir. 2004) (internal

quotation marks and citation omitted). "This standard is met

when the facts and circumstances within the officer's

knowledge, of which he or she has reasonably trustworthy

information, would cause a prudent person to believe, under

the circumstances shown, that the suspect has committed, is

committing, or is about to commit an offense." Id. (internal

quotation marks and citation omitted). "'Although probable

cause requires more than suspicion, it does not require

convincing proof, and need not reach the [same] standard of

conclusiveness and probability as the facts necessary to

support a conviction." Wood, 323 F.3d at 878 (quoting Lee


47
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 48 of 81

v. Ferraro, 284 F.3d 1188, 1195 (11th Cir. 2002) (alteration in

original)). The officer's subjective intent is immaterial, and the

Court instead must consider the facts objectively. Williams v.

City of Homestead, Fla., 206 F. App'x 886, 888 (11th Cir.

2006) (per curiam); see also Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S.

146, 153 (2004) ("Our cases make clear that an arresting

officer's state of mind (except for the facts that he knows) is

irrelevant to the existence of probable cause.").

"To determine whether an officer had probable cause for

an arrest, [courts] examine the events leading up to the arrest,

and then decide whether these historical facts, viewed from

the standpoint of an objectively reasonable police officer,

amount to probable cause." District of Columbia v. Wesby,

138 S. Ct. 577, 586 (2018) (internal quotation marks and

citation omitted). "Because probable cause deals with

probabilities and depends on the totality of the circumstances,


48
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 49 of 81

it is a fluid concept that is not readily, or even usefully, reduced

to a neat set of legal rules." Id. (internal quotation marks and

citations omitted). "It requires only a probability or substantial

chance of criminal activity, not an actual showing of such

activity." Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

"Probable cause is not a high bar." Id. (internal quotation

marks and citation omitted).

Here, the facts, viewed in the light most favorable to

Plaintiff, demonstrates that Defendant Geddie had at least

arguable probable cause to arrest Plaintiff for misdemeanor

obstruction under Georgia law. 0.C.G.A. § 16-10-24(a)

provides, in relevant part: "a person who knowingly and

willfully obstructs or hinders any law enforcement officer. . . in

the lawful discharge of his or her official duties shall be guilty

of a misdemeanor." 0.C.G.A. § 16-10-24(a). Refusing to

obey orders may be sufficient to support a misdemeanor


49
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 50 of 81

obstruction conviction under Georgia law. See Meadows v.

State, 303 Ga. App. 40, 43, 692 S.E.2d 708, 711(2010) ("The

evidence shows that Meadows refused to obey officers when

they ordered him to enter the detention cell and resisted to the

extent that he had to be physically placed inside. This was

sufficient to support Meadows's conviction for misdemeanor

obstruction." (footnote omitted)). Further, under Georgia law,

"violence or forcible resistance is not required to prove that an

officer was hindered or obstructed in a misdemeanor

obstruction case." Pinchon v. State, 237 Ga. App. 675, 675,

516 S.E.2d 537, 538 (1999). Instead, "[a]rgument, flight,

stubborn obstinance, and lying are all examples of conduct

that may satisfy the obstruction element." Id., id.

To prove misdemeanor obstruction under Georgia law,

the obstruction must be knowing and willful, and must occur

"while the officer was in the lawful discharge of his official


50
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 51 of 81

duties." Stryker v. State, 297 Ga. App. 493, 494, 677 S.E.2d

680, 681 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation

omitted). "An officer may be engaged in the lawful discharge

of his official duties even if he does not have probable cause

to arrest an individual. Thus, for example, an individual who

obstructs an officer during the investigation of a crime may be

guilty of obstruction notwithstanding the lack of probable

cause to arrest that individual." West v. State, 296 Ga. App.

58, 60-61, 673 S.E.2d 558, 561 (2009) (internal quotation

marks and footnote omitted). Moreover, "all law enforcement

officers have the general duty to enforce the law and maintain

the peace." Id. at 61, 673 S.E.2d at 561 (internal quotation

marks and footnote omitted).

Plaintiff appears to argue that Defendant Geddie was not

engaged in the lawful discharge of his duties. This argument

fails, as Defendant Geddie was in the process of placing M


51
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 52 of 81

Gaha under arrest for a traffic offense and investigating a

crash scene when Plaintiff engaged in the conduct for which

Defendant Geddie placed her under arrest.5 See Pinchon,

237 Ga. App. at 675, 516 S.E.2d at 538 (finding that an officer

was lawfully discharging his duties where he was in the

process of arresting one of the defendants without a warrant

for traffic offenses).

Plaintiff's contention that Defendant Geddie gave her an

unlawful order is also misplaced. "Police can create a

5 This case is distinguishable from Woodward v. Gray, 241 Ga.


App. 847, 527 S.E.2d 595 (2000). In Woodward, the Georgia
Court of Appeals noted that "[a] police officer. . . is not discharging
his or her lawful duty when she makes an arrest of an individual
without reasonable and probable cause or stops an individual
without specific articulable suspicion; in this case, neither of
plaintiff's brothers' arrests was based upon probable cause." 241
Ga. App. at 849, 527 S.E.2d at 598 (citation omitted). Here,
Defendant Geddie had probable cause to arrest Ms. Gaha for
driving on a suspended license, as well as the duty to investigate
the crash scene.
52
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 53 of 81

reasonable crime scene perimeter, put up a crime scene tape

to avoid destruction or tampering with evidence, or exclude

the public from a reasonable physical zone of an arrest within

which there is a risk of physical contact between the officer,

suspect, and public or a passing of weapons or evidence."

Woodward, 241 Ga. App. at 850, 527 S.E.2d at 599,

disapproved on other grounds by Stryker, 297 Ga. App. at 495

n.1, 677 S.E.2d at 682 n.1. Admittedly, the Georgia Court of

Appeals has stated that "a command to clear the general are

entirely beyond the zone of police operations constitutes an

overly broad and unreasonable demand that exceeds

reasonable law enforcement procedure and needs." Id., j4.

Here, however, the Court cannot say, as a matter of law, that

directing Plaintiff to return to her car, which was parked a short

distance away, was an unreasonable demand such that

Plaintiff was entitled to choose to disobey it.


53
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 54 of 81

Plaintiff also contends that Defendant Geddie's

investigation of the crash scene was complete after Defendant

Geddie placed Ms. Gaha in handcuffs and in his patrol car.

Plaintiff cites no authority to support this argument, and the

videotape contradicts her claims. Rather, the videotape

demonstrates that Defendant Geddie remained on the scene

until the wrecker appeared to remove Ms. Gaha's crashed car

from the roadway. This argument thus does not defeat a

conclusion that arguable probable cause existed to arrest

Plaintiff for obstruction.

Plaintiff also relies on cases stating that words alone

cannot constitute obstruction. Those cases, however, are no

longer persuasive "because force is no longer an element of

misdemeanor obstruction." Stryker, 297 Ga. App. at 494, 677

S.E.2d at 682; see also Weidmann v. State, 222 Ga. App. 796,

797, 476 S.E.2d 18, 20 (1996). ("To consummate an offense


54
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 55 of 81

of misdemeanor obstruction, some form of knowing and wilful

opposition to the officer sufficient to constitute obstruction or

hinderance is required, but actual violence or threat thereof is

not."). In any event, as discussed below, the evidence

demonstrates that Defendant Geddie did not simply arrest

Plaintiff based on words alone.

Here, Defendant Geddie, while pointing in the direction of

Plaintiff's vehicle, repeatedly directed Plaintiff to move away

from the scene and to go back to where she was. Plaintiff

refused to go back to her vehicle, although she moved to the

other side of Ms. Gaha's car. At one point, the video shows

Plaintiff attempting to enter Ms. Gaha's car from the

passenger side. Defendant Geddie again instructed Plaintiff

to go back to where she came from, pointing toward Plaintiff's

car, and cautioned Plaintiff that he would arrest her if she did

not do so. Plaintiff did not return to her car. Instead, Plaintiff
55
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 56 of 81

began disputing the legality of Defendant Geddie's

commands, using her hands and gesturing. Under those

circumstances, Defendant Geddie had at least arguable

probable cause to arrest Plaintiff for misdemeanor obstruction.

See West, 296 Ga. App. at 61-62, 673 S.E.2d at 561-62

(finding that the evidence was sufficient to convict the

defendant of obstruction where the officer repeatedly directed

the defendant to leave the scene and specifically advised the

defendant that failure to comply would result in arrest, and the

defendant refused to listen, continuing to speak and ignoring

the officer's statements); see also Harris v. State, 276 Ga.

App. 234, 236, 622 S.E.2d 905, 907 (2005) ("When Harris

disobeyed Officer Wheeler's lawful commands to wait and to

back off, he committed the crime of misdemeanor

obstruction.").

56
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 57 of 81

Plaintiff contends that Defendant Geddie allowed Mr.

Lopez and P.P. to remain in fairly close proximity to the scene,

including permitting P.P. to enter Ms. Gaha's car. This

contention is misplaced, as no evidence indicates that Mr.

Lopez or P.P. refused to obey orders or engaged in argument

with Defendant Geddie. Moreover, neither PP. nor Mr. Lopez

walked up to Defendant Geddie and angrily remarked, "Are

you fucking kidding me?" Under those circumstances, the fact

that Defendant Geddie did not direct Mr. Lopez or PP. to

leave the scene is immaterial.

Even if Defendant Geddie lacked arguable probable

cause to arrest Plaintiff, Plaintiff has not demonstrated that

Defendant Geddie's decision to arrest her violated clearly

established law. The Supreme Court recently explained:

We have stressed that the specificity of the [clearly


established law] rule is especially important in the
Fourth Amendment context. Probable cause turn[s]
57
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 58 of 81

on the assessment of probabilities in particular


factual contexts and cannot be reduced to a neat set
of legal rules. It is incapable of precise definition or
quantification into percentages. Given its imprecise
nature, officers will often find it difficult to know how
the general standard of probable cause applies in
the precise situation encountered. Thus, we have
stressed the need to identify a case where an officer
acting under similar circumstances . . . was held to
have violated the Fourth Amendment. While there
does not have to be a case directly on point, existing
precedent must place the lawfulness of the particular
arrest beyond debate. Of course, there can be the
rare obvious case, where the unlawfulness of the
officer's conduct is sufficiently clear even though
existing precedent does not address similar
circumstances. But a body of relevant case law is
usually necessary to clearly establish the answer
with respect to probable cause.

Wesby, 138 S. Ct. at 590 (second and third alterations in

original) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The

Eleventh Circuit has given similar instructions, noting:

In deciding that clearly established law existed


sufficient to put Defendants on notice that their
arrest of Plaintiff was unconstitutional, the district
court made the following statement: The Eleventh
Circuit has concluded that it is clearly established
58
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 59 of 81

that an arrest without probable cause to believe a


crime had been committed violates the Fourth
Amendment. Of course, no one would disagree that
the Fourth Amendment requires an arrest to be
based on probable cause. But we reiterate that an
officer who has arrested someone without probable
cause might still be entitled to immunity. This is so
because the clearly-established inquiry does not ask
whether there was probable cause in actuality.
Instead, it asks whether the preexisting law was so
clear that, given the specific facts facing a particular
officer, one must say that every reasonable official
would have understood that what he is doing
violates the Constitutional right at issue.

In framing its inquiry more broadly than the above


standard permits, the district court erred, running
afoul of the Supreme Court's oft-repeated directive
not to define clearly established law at a high level
of generality. Rather, the clearly established law
inquiry must be particularized to the facts of the
case.

Reframing the analysis to conform with the direction


of the Supreme Court, the dispositive question is
whether it was already clearly established, as a
matter of law, that at the time of Plaintiff's arrest, an
objective officer could not have concluded
reasonably that probable cause existed to arrest
Plaintiff under the particular circumstances
Defendants confronted. Again, resolution of the
59
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 60 of 81

clearly-established test does not depend on whether


a judge might decide later that probable cause was
lacking in fact. Instead, the test asks whether
already existing law was so clear that, given the
specific facts facing this particular officer, one must
conclude that every reasonable official would have
understood that what he is doing violates the
Constitutional right at issue.

Gates, 884 F.3d at 1302-03 (emphasis in original) (internal

quotation marks and citations omitted).

Here, Plaintiff has pointed to no clearly established law

demonstrating that, under the facts of this case, every

reasonable official would have understood that arresting

Plaintiff violated Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. Plaintiff

relies on Reese v. Herbert, 527 F.3d 1253 (11th Cir. 2008).

Reese, however, is distinguishable from this action The

defendants in Reese arrested the plaintiff for misdemeanor

obstruction under Georgia law. 527 F.3d at 1272. The

60
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 61 of 81

Eleventh Circuit found that no probable cause existed to arrest

the plaintiff for misdemeanor obstruction, noting:

Ten minutes had elapsed since the alleged


aggressor in the domestic violence dispute had been
handcuffed and placed in Deputy Geddie's6 patrol
car. Herbert was standing outside the building to
prevent others from entering the apartment where
Deputy Geddie was interviewing the alleged victim.
After approaching Herbert, Reese patiently waited
for a few minutes before making his request that the
law enforcement vehicles be moved. He then
requested to speak with the officer in charge.

6 Defendant Geddie was a sheriff's deputy with the Dade


County Sheriff's Office at the time of the plaintiff's arrest in Reese,
and he is the same individual as the "Deputy Geddie" involved in
Reese. (Geddie Dep. at 11.) Importantly, "[w]hen considering
whether an official would have known that his actions were
prohibited by the law at the time he engaged in the conduct in
question, [t]he standard is one of objective reasonableness."
Baas v. Fewless, 886 F.3d 1088, 1093 (11th Cir. 2018) (second
alteration in original) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). Thus, "evidence of improper motive is irrelevant to. . .
[the] analysis." Abercrombie v. Beam, 728 F. App'x 918, 928 (11th
Cir. 2018) (per curiam) (alterations in original) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted); see also Jackson v. Sauls, 206 F.3d
1156, 1165 (11th Cir. 2000) ("[T]he standard for determining if an
officer violated clearly established law is an objective one and
does not include inquiry into the officer's subjective intent or
beliefs.").
61
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 62 of 81

Throughout this exchange, Reese maintained a


calm voice and demeanor. Reese did not impede or
hinder Herbert in the performance of his police
duties. Though Reese may have refused to obey
Herbert's order to leave the scene by attempting to
approach Trooper Geddie, arrest for obstruction
cannot be predicated upon such a refusal to obey a
command to clear the general area entirely beyond
the zone of police operation, which, in the
circumstances described, was clearly an overly
broad and unreasonable demand that exceed[ed]
reasonable law enforcement procedure and needs.

Id. at 1272-73 (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks

and citations omitted). Here, unlike the plaintiff in Reese,

Plaintiff walked up to Defendant Geddie and Ms. Gaha and

immediately said, "Are you fucking kidding me?" Plaintiff also

refused to obey repeated orders from Defendant Geddie to

return to her car, and, at one point, Plaintiff even opened the

passenger door of Ms. Gaha's vehicle. When Defendant

Geddie ordered Plaintiff to return to her own car, Plaintiff

refused to comply with that order and began to debate the

62
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 63 of 81

issue with Defendant Geddie. This case is therefore

distinguishable from Reese, and Reese cannot clearly

establish that Plaintiff's arrest was unlawful.

Similarly, Skop v. City of Atlanta, Georgia, 485 F.3d 1130

(11th Cir. 2007), does not clearly establish that Defendant

Geddie lacked probable cause to arrest Plaintiff. In Skop, the

plaintiff was arrested after she politely asked the defendant

officer to pull his car one foot forward, without raising her voice

or threatening the defendant officer, and after she attempted

to clarify her question. 485 F.3d at 1138. The Eleventh Circuit

concluded that there was no indication that the plaintiff in Skop

had impeded or instructed the defendant officer in the pursuit

of his lawful duties. Id. at 1138-39. The defendant officer also

contended that the plaintiff had refused to comply with his

order, but the plaintiff introduced evidence showing that either

the defendant officer never gave such an order or knew that


63
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 64 of 81

the plaintiff could not and did not hear him. ki at 1141. Unlike

the plaintiff in Skop, Plaintiff refused to comply with several

orders from Defendant Geddie and argued with Defendant

Geddie. This case therefore is distinguishable from Skop.

Finally, this case is distinguishable from Davis v.

Williams, 451 F.3d 759 (2006). Davis involved Florida's

obstruction and disorderly conduct statutes, and the Eleventh

Circuit observed that Florida courts generally have held "that

physical conduct must accompany offensive words to support

a conviction under" the obstruction statute and that "probable

cause for purposes of [the disorderly conduct statute] cannot

be based on mere words." 451 F.3d at 765-66 (internal

quotation marks omitted). As previously noted, Georgia's

obstruction statute is different. 0.C.G.A. § 16-10-24(a). In

any event, the plaintiff in Davis did not physically interfere with

or obstruct the deputies, never got close to the scene, never


64
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 65 of 81

made threats, yelled, or argued, but simply asked questions

and asked to speak to a supervisor. Id. at 766. The plaintiff

in Davis did not disobey orders or argue with a police officer.

Under those circumstances, Davis does not clearly establish

that Plaintiffs arrest was unlawful.

In sum, Plaintiff failed to show that clearly established law

demonstrated that, under the facts of this case, every

reasonable official would have understood that arresting

Plaintiff violated Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights.

Defendant Geddie therefore is entitled to qualified immunity

with respect to Plaintiff's § 1983 false arrest claim. See Gates,

884 F.3d at 1303-04 (finding that the defendant officers were

entitled to qualified immunity for arresting the plaintiff for

violating Georgia's mask statute where no already existing law

clearly established, beyond debate, the unlawfulness of an

arrest under the circumstances).


65
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 66 of 81

B. § 1983 Malicious Prosecution

Plaintiff also asserts a § 1983 malicious prosecution

claim against Defendant Geddie. "To establish a federal

malicious prosecution claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must

prove (1) the elements of the common law tort of malicious

prosecution, and (2) a violation of her Fourth Amendment right

to be free from unreasonable seizures." Kingsland, 382 F.3d

at 1234. The common law elements of a malicious

prosecution claim include "(1) a criminal prosecution instituted

or continued by the present defendant; (2) with malice and

without probable cause; (3) that terminated in the plaintiff

accused's favor; and (4) caused damage to the plaintiff

accused." Wood, 323 F.3d at 882. As with a § 1983 false

arrest claim, a defendant will be entitled to qualified immunity

for a § 1983 malicious prosecution claim if arguable probable

66
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 67 of 81

cause existed for the plaintiff's arrest. Grider v. City of Auburn,

Ala., 618 F.3d 1240, 1257 (11th Cir. 2010).

For the reasons discussed supra Part V.A., arguable

probable cause existed to arrest Plaintiff, and Plaintiff has not

shown that her arrest violated clearly established law.

Defendant Geddie therefore is entitled to qualified immunity

with respect to Plaintiff's § 1983 malicious prosecution claim.

C. First Amendment Retaliatory Arrest

Plaintiff also asserts a § 1983 First Amendment

retaliatory arrest claim against Defendant Geddie. For the

reasons stated supra Part IV.B.2., Defendant Geddie is

entitled to qualified immunity with respect to this claim.

D. Excessive Force

For Fourth Amendment excessive force claims, "a

court must carefully balance the nature and quality of the

67
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 68 of 81

intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests

against the countervailing governmental interests." Mann

v. laser Intl, Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1305 (11th Cir. 2009)

(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "To

balance the necessity of the use of force used against the

arrestee's constitutional rights, a court must evaluate

several 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.

at 1305-06 (internal quotation marks and citations

omitted). "Whether the use of force was reasonable must

be determined from the perspective of a reasonable officer

on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of

68
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 69 of 81

hindsight." Id. at 1306 (internal quotation marks and citation

omitted).

"[W]here an arrest is supported by probable cause the

application of de minimis force as needed to effect the arrest,

without more, will not support a claim for excessive force in

violation of the Fourth Amendment" Williams v. Sirmons, 307

F. App'x 354, 360 (11th Cir. 2009) (per curiam). "This is the

case because the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop

necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of

physical coercion or threat thereof to effect it, and [courts]

recognize that the typical arrest involves some force and

injury." Id. at 361 (internal quotation marks and citation

omitted).

Defendant Geddie argues that the force he used against

Plaintiff was de minimis. (Br. Supp. Def. Geddie's Mot. Summ.

J. (Docket Entry No. 39-2) at 16-20.) Defendant Geddie notes


69
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 70 of 81

that, although Plaintiff complained of arm pain, her arm was

not actually broken, and Plaintiff instead suffered only

contusions and abrasions. (Id. at 6-8.) Defendant Geddie also

argues that Plaintiff only required one prescription pain pill,

that Plaintiff otherwise treated her injuries with over the

counter pain medications, and that Plaintiff's pain resolved in

three or four days. (Id.)

It Is undisputed that "some use of force by a police officer

when making a custodial arrest is necessary and altogether

lawful, regardless of the severity of the alleged offense."

Durruthy, 351 F.3d at 1094.7 Application of de minimis force,

without more, will not support an excessive force claim. See

7 Plaintiff relies on a line of cases concluding that, when an


arrest is unlawful, a plaintiff has a right to resist and any use of
force is impermissible. As previously discussed, Defendant
Geddie had at least arguable probable cause to arrest Plaintiff,
which distinguishes this case from the ones on which Plaintiff
relies.
70
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 71 of 81

Noun v. Isbell, 207 F.3d 1253, 1257 (11th Cir. 2000)

("[T]his Circuit has established the principle that the

application of de minimis force, without more, will not

support a claim for excessive force in violation of the

Fourth Amendment."). Even viewing the facts in the light

most favorable to Plaintiff, the force used here was de

minimis. Plaintiff testified that Defendant Geddie tackled

her, throwing her into a ditch, and that he slammed her

body into the ground, which caused her head to hit the

ground a few times, while trying to get Plaintiff into

handcuffs. Plaintiff also testified that Defendant Geddie

pulled her arm back hard to get it into handcuffs, and that,

while Defendant Geddie was attempting to handcuff her,

he straddled her and placed his weight on her body and

lower back. Plaintiff, however, testified that she placed her


71
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 72 of 81

left hand and arm underneath her body to protect it as

Defendant Geddie was attempting to place her in

handcuffs. Plaintiff acknowledged that Defendant Geddie

did not kick or strike her, and that he did not use a weapon

or instrument to effect the arrest. Plaintiff also testified that

her head did not hit the ground after Defendant Geddie

placed her in handcuffs. Plaintiff's arm was not broken, as

she feared, and she suffered some scrapes and bruises.

Plaintiff took one prescription pain pill given to her at the

hospital, and she treated the rest of her injuries with over-

the-counter pain medications. Plaintiff testified that, after

three or four days, she did not need over-the-counter pain

medications to treat her injuries.

The Eleventh Circuit has found that similar uses of

force were de minimis. See Williams, 307 F. App'x at 361-


72
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 73 of 81

62 (concluding that the use of force was de minimis where

a defendant grabbed the plaintiff from behind and pulled

her to the ground, and another defendant "placed his knee

on her back and put his weight upon her in order to

handcuff her," and noting that "we have no choice but to

conclude that the force was reasonable where an officer

causes no injuries in the course of effecting a lawful arrest,

despite the fact that the arrestee is particularly susceptible

to injury." Further, the Court stated that "[o]nce Williams

was restrained, no further force was used against her.

Williams presents no evidence that she was injured as a

result of the force; accordingly, we must characterize the

use of force. . . as de minimis."); Bryan v. Spillman, 217 F.

App'x 882, 886 (11th Cir. 2007) (per curiam) (finding that

the force used was de minimis where the officer


73
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 74 of 81

"conducted a 'rough search' of [the plaintiff's] genitals,

pushed him against a patrol car and held his head down

against the car"); Durruthy, 351 F.3d at 1094 ("[E]ven if the

force applied by Pastor in effecting the arrest—forcing

Durruthy down to the ground and placing him in

handcuffs—was unnecessary, plainly it was not unlawful.

The amount of force used was de minimus."); Nolin, 207

F.3d at 1254-58 (concluding that the force used was de

minimis where the officer "grabbed [the plaintiff] from

behind by the shoulder and wrist, threw him against a van

three or four feet away, kneed him in the back and pushed

his head into the side of the van, searched his groin area

in an uncomfortable manner, and handcuffed him," and the

plaintiff "suffered bruising to his forehead chest and wrists,"

74
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 75 of 81

but "the bruises disappeared quickly and [the plaintiff] did

not seek medical treatment").

Even if Defendant Geddie used more than de minimis

force against Plaintiff, he is still entitled to qualified

immunity because a reasonable officer would not

necessarily have concluded that the force used was

excessive. Defendant Geddie took Plaintiff to the ground

and used some force against Plaintiff while trying to place

Plaintiff in handcuffs. While Plaintiff was on the ground,

she admittedly was attempting to keep her left arm and

hand underneath her. Defendant Geddie did not use force

against Plaintiff after she was restrained in handcuffs, and

he did not use a weapon or device or strike or kick Plaintiff.

Under those circumstances, the Court cannot say that the

force used by Defendant Geddie was clearly unlawful. See


75
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 76 of 81

Horn v. Barron, 720 F. App'x 557, 564 (11th Cir. 2018) (per

curiam) (finding that, even if a plaintiff was totally compliant

with an officer effecting her arrest, the officer "was allowed

to use some force in effecting her arrest," and that "[e]ven

if the force applied by [the officer] in effecting [the plaintiff's]

arrest—a soft hands, straight arm bar takedown technique,

by which he gained control of her by taking hold of her left

arm, putting his right arm over her left arm, and using

gravity and his own weight to bring her to the ground was

unnecessary, it was not unlawful"); Rodriguez v. Farrell,

280 F.3d 1341, 1351-52 (11th Cir. 2002) (concluding that

an officer was entitled to qualified immunity where the

evidence showed that the officer "grabbed plaintiff's arm,

twisted it around plaintiff's back, jerking it up high to the

shoulder and then handcuffed plaintiff as plaintiff fell to his


76
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 77 of 81

knees screaming that [the officer] was hurting him"); Jones

v. City of Dothan, 121 F.3d 1456, 1460-61 (11th Cir. 1997)

(finding that officers were entitled to qualified immunity for

a plaintiff's § 1983 excessive force claim where the

evidence showed that the officers "slammed [the plaintiff]

against the wall, kicked his legs apart, required him to raise

his arms above his head, and pulled his wallet from his

pants," the plaintiff "experienced pain from having to lift his

arms since he had previously suffered a stroke, and . . he

experienced pain in his arthritic knee from having his legs

kicked apart," and "he received minor medical treatment").8

8 Admittedly, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that an officer's


actions in effectuating an arrest constituted excessive force where
an officer grabbed the plaintiff from behind as the plaintiff was
following another officer's order to return to his house, "pushed
him to the ground, dragged him, intentionally inflicted more pain
when told that [the plaintiff] had an injured shoulder and threw him
forcibly into the dog cage in a canine unit, all while a compliant
77
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 78 of 81

[plaintiff] was already in handcuffs." Davis, 451 F.3d at 767. Here,


however, Defendant Geddie did not use force against Plaintiff
after placing Plaintiff in handcuffs, and Plaintiff admittedly
attempted to keep her left arm from being handcuffed by placing
it underneath her body. Under those circumstances, Davis does
not compel a finding that the force used here was excessive.
Reese also does not require a different conclusion. In
Reese: (1) four officers used force against the plaintiff, who was
lying face down on the ground; (2) the officers piled on top of the
plaintiff and began kicking and beating him; (3) one or more of the
officers continued to twist the plaintiff's arm behind his back, in
spite of the plaintiff's repeated screams that the officers were
breaking his arms; (4) another officer applied a pressure point
technique on the plaintiff's neck; and (5) after the officers
handcuffed the plaintiff's left arm, another officer pepper-sprayed
the plaintiff in the face. 527 F.3d at 1273. The plaintiff in Reese
was not fighting back or attempting to escape. Id. The Eleventh
Circuit found that the Graham factors weighed in the plaintiff's
favor, noting that, "[i]n view of the fact that [the plaintiff] was lying
face down on the ground, was not suspected of having committed
a serious crime, did not pose an immediate threat of harm to
anyone, and was not actively resisting or evading arrest, the
defendants' use of force was a wholly disproportionate response
to the situation." Id. at 1274. The force used in this case did not
approach the magnitude of the force used in Reese, and, unlike
the plaintiff in Reese, Plaintiff admittedly placed her left arm under
her body in an attempt to keep Defendant Geddie from
handcuffing it. Reese therefore is not controlling here.
78
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 79 of 81

Although Plaintiff may be correct that Defendant Geddie

should have announced that he was arresting Plaintiff

before he took Plaintiff to the ground, the Court cannot find

that this failure, standing alone, makes the force used

unlawful. The Court therefore concludes that Defendant

Geddie is entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff's

excessive force claim.

E. Summary

The Court recognizes that most of the events in this

case could have been prevented if Defendant Geddie had

chosen a different course of action or approached the

matter from a different perspective. The Court, however,

cannot judge Defendant Geddie's actions with the 20/20

vision of hindsight, and, under the authority in this Circuit,

the Court cannot find that Defendant Geddie violated


79
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 80 of 81

clearly established law. Qualified immunity therefore

applies as to all of Plaintiff's claims asserted against

Defendant Geddie, and the Court grants Defendant

Geddie's Motion for Summary Judgment.

VI. Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

Plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment in her favor

on her § 1983 false arrest and malicious prosecution claims.

Plaintiff bears the burden of proof on those claims, and, as

such, she must show that any reasonable juror must find in

favor on those claims. Viewing the evidence in the light most

favorable to Defendants as the non-movants, at least a

genuine issue of fact remains as to whether probable cause

or arguable probable cause existed to arrest Plaintiff for

obstruction. Plaintiff therefore is not entitled to summary

judgment in her favor on her § 1983 false arrest and malicious

80
Case 4:17-cv-00192-HLM Document 55 Filed 08/09/18 Page 81 of 81

prosecution claims, and the Court denies Plaintiff's Motion for

Partial Summary Judgment.

VII. Conclusion

ACCORDINGLY, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for

Partial Summary Judgment [33], GRANTS Defendant Reyes'

Motion for Summary Judgment [37], and GRANTS Defendant

Geddie's Motion for Summary Judgment [39]. The Court

DISMISSES Plaintiffs claims, and DIRECTS the Clerk to

CLOSE this case.

IT IS SO ORDERED, this the L day of August, 2018.

UNIT Slq-rd4 IS ICT JUDGE

81