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Wiggins v. Dupont

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

May 24, 2018

PTL. DAVID DUPONT, et al., Defendants.


          Thomas M. Parker, United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         A Garfield Heights police officer injured Plaintiff De'Angelo Wiggins in the process of arresting him for failing to comply with a request to leave private property. Wiggins claims that the officer, Patrolman David DuPont, [1] used excessive force. Wiggins asserts a Monell claim against the City of Garfield Heights for failing to train, supervise or discipline its officers and for adopting a custom or policy of indifference to unconstitutional conduct, which ultimately caused his injury. Because Wiggins has not identified any genuinely disputed issues of material fact and because the City of Garfield Heights is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's claims, the court must GRANT the City's motion for summary judgment.

         II. Statement of Facts

         A. Alleged Violation of Wiggins's Constitutional Rights

         The undisputed Rule 56 evidence reveals that St. John Lutheran Church in Garfield Heights ran a youth basketball program on Tuesday and Thursday nights in 2016. ECF Doc. 19-1, p. 10. Wiggins went to the church on December 20, 2016 with his friends Jaylon Thomas, Hilton Peck, and Adolph Jackson. ECF Doc. 19-1, p. 15. Because Wiggins decided he didn't want to play basketball, a supervisor asked him to leave. Id. Wiggins, Peck and Thomas asked if they could sit in Jackson's car in the parking lot while he played basketball. Id. Jackson gave them the keys to his car where they sat with the engine off in the church parking lot. ECF Doc. 19-1, p. 15-16.

         Karen Dutton, the person in charge of open gym, called the police and complained that Wiggins, Peck and Thomas were not supposed to be on the property because she had asked them to leave. She feared a fight might occur. ECF Doc. 20-1, Page ID# 247. Officer DuPont heard the dispatch call and responded to the scene. While driving to the church, DuPont heard another officer's radio report that Wiggins had previously fought with police and could be “highly disorderly.” ECF Doc. 20-1, Page ID# 242.

         Upon arrival, Officer DuPont went inside and talked to Ms. Dutton. ECF Doc. 20-1, Page ID# 247. She was adamant that she wanted the young men to leave the property. Id. According to Wiggins, Officer DuPont said approached Jackson's car and tapped on the window with a flashlight. ECF 19-1, p. 21. DuPont asked them to roll down the window but the car was off. ECF Doc. 20-1, Page ID# 246. Wiggins testified that he opened the door; DuPont says he was the one who did so. ECF 19-1, p. 21; ECF Doc. 20-1, Page ID# 247.

         Wiggins admitted Officer DuPont told the young men that they needed to leave the property. Wiggins testified that he responded by stating that Ms. Dutton had told them they could sit in the car. ECF 19-1, p. 22. Wiggins admitted Officer DuPont told them they would be arrested if they didn't leave. ECF 19-1, p. 23. Wiggins denied telling DuPont that he wouldn't leave. Id. He claims that he said, “I'm not going anywhere” and then got out of the car. Id. DuPont claims that Wiggins was very angry; and he asserts Wiggins said that he had every right to be there, and was going to go in there (the church), and he wasn't going anywhere. ECF Doc. 20-1, Page ID# 248-249.

         Wiggins claims that when he got out of the car he took a step and DuPont immediately took him to the ground. ECF 19-1, p. 25. Wiggins explains that he was facing the car with his back to DuPont, “trying to slip out the door.” ECF 19-1, p. 48-49. According to Wiggins, DuPont grabbed his left shoulder from behind with DuPont's left hand and pulled him down. Id. DuPont was holding his flash light in his right hand. ECF Doc. 19-1, p. 51. Wiggins hit the ground on his chest and stomach. His head didn't hit the ground. ECF 19-1, p. 50. DuPont remained in a standing position during the incident. ECF 19-1, p. 52. He pulled Wiggins's arms behind his back and placed him in handcuffs. ECF 19-1, p. 50. Wiggins did not see Officer Tatulinski until he stood up. ECF 19-1, p. 52.

         DuPont recalls the incident differently. He claims that the two collided when Wiggins jumped out of the car and that both of them went to the ground. ECF Doc. 20-1, Page ID# 249. There was ice around the car. ECF 19-1, p. 20. After they fell, Officer DuPont was worried about protecting himself from attack. So he struggled with Wiggins to handcuff him. ECF Doc. 20-1, Page ID# 251.

         During the incident, Wiggins's head was injured. Wiggins does not state how his head was injured. But he has submitted an unsworn statement from Jaylen Thomas, stating “the officer slammed [De'Angelo] then hit him with the flashlight in the face and kicked him a little bit.” ECF Doc. 18-8, Page ID#131. The court cannot consider this statement because defendants have objected to it as an unsworn statement that would not be admissible in evidence. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c)(2); Harris v. J.B. Robinson Jewelers, 627 F.3d 235, 239 n.1 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Dole v. Elliott Travel & Tours, Inc., 942 F.2d 962, 968-69 (6th Cir. 1991)).

         Officer DuPont was not sure how Wiggins was injured, but he denies intentionally hitting him in the head with his flashlight. ECF Doc. 20-1, Page ID# 256. DuPont's report stated that there was “unintended contact” with Wiggins's head and the flashlight. Id. DuPont thinks that the flashlight may have hit Wiggins in the head when he jumped out of the car. ECF Doc. 20-1, Page ID# 257.

         After the incident, DuPont asked Wiggins if he wanted EMS to be called. Wiggins told him that he didn't want EMS because he didn't want a ticket. An EMS unit did come to the scene, however. Paramedics looked at Wiggins's head but didn't provide any treatment. ECF 19-1, p. 28. Officer DuPont gave Wiggins a citation for trespassing. ECF 19-1, p. 29. Wiggins then went to the emergency room where he got three stitches. Wiggins took one ibuprofen per day for about a ...

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