United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER [RESOLVING ECF NOS.
37 & 47]
Y. PEARSON JUDGE
before the Court are two motions for summary judgment: (1)
Plaintiff Erich Martin's Partial Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 37), and (2) Defendants Officer
Max Capito, Sergeant Robert Eckenrod, Officer Nicholas
Massary, Officer Christopher Rowlands, Officer Tyler
Wesolowski, Lieutenant Dan Lester, and Trumbull County
Commissioners' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
47). The parties have responded to the motions. ECF
Nos. 49 & 51. The parties have also filed
replies. ECF Nos. 52 & 53. For the
reasons that follow, the Court denies Plaintiff's motion
and grants in part and denies in part Defendants' motion.
January 14, 2016, Ohio State Trooper Weiss pulled over
Plaintiff Erich Martin on suspicion of operating a vehicle
while intoxicated. ECF No. 41 at PageID 380-81.
Plaintiff had multiple narcotics in his system, and was
weaving between lanes while driving. Id. at PageID
#: 382. Plaintiff was not an Ohio resident. Rather, he was
driving from Bay City, Michigan back to his home outside of
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Id. at PageID #: 32.
After concluding that Plaintiff was, in fact, intoxicated,
Trooper Weiss transported Plaintiff to the Trumbull County
Jail. Id. at PageID #: 382-83.
practice at the Trumbull County Jail for an individual
brought in on a DUI is that, in order for the individual to
leave, they must call for a ride to have someone else pick
them up; otherwise the jail will hold the person until they
are sober enough to leave. ECF No. 43 at PageID #:
546-47. Plaintiff received a summons, and therefore, he
was free to leave the jail, as long as he had a ride to pick
him up from the jail. Id. at PageID #: 546.
made the one phone call the jail permitted him, and once that
call ended, Officer Rowlands ordered Plaintiff to go to a
holding cell. Id. at PageID #: 550. Plaintiff
refused. Officer Rowlands contends that he ordered Plaintiff
to return to the holding cell two times, and both times
Plaintiff responded by saying “No.” Id.
Plaintiff disputes this claim, and instead asserts that he
simply remained standing where he was. ECF No. 41 at
PageID #: 398-99. Plaintiff admits, however, that
Officer Rowlands asked him to return to the holding cell
twice, though he claims that the two requests came within
seconds of each other. Id. at PageID #: 399-400.
Plaintiff's failure to follow Officer Rowland's
commands, multiple officers surrounded Plaintiff. ECF No.
43 at PageID #: 537. Officer Rowlands claims to have
ordered Plaintiff to return to the holding cell again and
that Plaintiff refused his command a third time. Id.
Rowlands testified that after the third refusal, he took
Plaintiff by the right arm, and Officer Nicholas Massary took
Plaintiff by the left arm to escort Plaintiff into the
holding cell, which was about ten feet away from where
Plaintiff was standing. Id. at PageID #: 538.
Officer Rowlands testified that, as he and Officer Massary
were escorting Plaintiff, Plaintiff was dragging and pushing
his feet. Id. In addition to Officers Rowlands and
Massary, Officer Max Capito also escorted Plaintiff to his
cell, though he was not holding Plaintiff. ECF No. 46 at
PageID #: 774-75. Officer Rowlands testified that once
the officers got Plaintiff to the cell, he swept
Plaintiff's legs out from underneath him, because
Plaintiff continued to resist and he was unsure what
Plaintiff was going to do next. ECF No. 43 at PageID #:
Plaintiff was on the ground, the officers attempted to
handcuff him, but Plaintiff was holding his hands underneath
himself. Id. at PageID #: 541. Because the cell door
closed slowly-and, thus, would allow Plaintiff the
opportunity to launch an attack on the officers while the
door was closing-Officer Rowlands felt it necessary to
handcuff Plaintiff. Id. at PageID #: 542. Officer
Massary testified that after the handcuffs went on
Plaintiff's right hand, Plaintiff attempted to bite
Officer Massary. ECF No. 42 at PageID #: 470.
seeing the resistance that Plaintiff was showing toward
Officers Rowlands and Massary, Sergeant Robert Eckenrod
decided that the situation posed a risk of injury to the
officers or Plaintiff, so he warned Plaintiff that he would
deploy his taser, unless Plaintiff ceased resisting. ECF
No. 48 at PageID #: 982-83. Sergeant Eckenrod then
deployed the taser once. Id. at PageID #: 983. After
the taser use, Officer Tyler Wesolowksi was able to secure
the handcuffs on Plaintiff. ECF No. 43 at PageID #:
545. The officers then took the handcuffs off Plaintiff
about thirty minutes later after Plaintiff had provided
assurance of good behavior. Id.
disputes much of Defendants' account of what happened.
His recollection is as follows:
After I had called my wife ... I walked back up to the desk
and I was told to get back in the holding cell. I said, you
know, he said, get back in you cell or else something along
those terms. Before I could say, can I make another phone
call, the officers were already on their way over to me. At
that point, I don't know what to do, to be quite honest
with you, because I was frightened because I didn't know
that was going to happen. When they approached me, they
knocked me to ground, which ones and how many, I'm not
sure. When I was on my face to the ground, my right arm was
taken back. The other officer had my other arm. Due to the
surgeries on my spine, my arm only goes back so far in such
ways. The officer was pulling it back. I was trying to resist
so I could get it to go back in a different way. When I did
that, I turned around, I looked at him, I never said a word,
he got my arm back, they handcuffed me, then they literally
picked me up off the ground, took me into the cell, where
they dropped me on my face on the cell floor. One officer had
his knee in the back of my head, his hand on the back of my
head, and the other officer then tase[re]d me twice.”
ECF No. 41 at PageID #: 387-88.
Plaintiff disputes much of Defendants' testimony, he
admits the following: (1) that he walked to the desk after he
finished his phone call; (2) that he did not follow Officer
Rowlands' command to go into the holding cell; and (3)
that he resisted giving up his left arm to the officers.
Id. at PageID #: 387-88. Plaintiff claims that he
refused Officer Rowlands' order because he wanted to
request another phone call, but he was unable to do so,
claiming that the situation occurred too quickly for him to
voice his request. Id. at PageID #: 387.
Additionally, he claimed that he refused to give up his arm,
because spinal surgeries limited his arm mobility.
Id. Plaintiff contends that he did not raise the
concern related to his arm mobility, because he “was
approached in such an aggressive way that [he] was afraid to
open [his] mouth or make any motions whatsoever.”
Id. at PageID #: 389.
Plaintiff also disputes the notion that the tasering occurred
prior to the handcuffing, as Plaintiff claims that the
officers only tasered him ...