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Connelly v. Freyberger

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 11, 2015

Sean Danahy Connelly, Plaintiff,
v.
Brent Freyberger; Matthew Cormier; Officer Delameter, Defendants.

ORDER

FREDERICK J. MARTONE, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiff is a prisoner in the custody of the Arizona State Prison Complex-Yuma. He bought this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that Phoenix Police Officers Freyberger, Cormier, and Delameter used excessive force in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights when they arrested him.

Before the court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment (doc. 41), Defendants' separate statement of facts (doc. 42), Plaintiff's response (doc. 50), and Defendants' reply (doc. 51).

I. Background

A. Defendants' Facts

At approximately 2:00 a.m. on October 19, 2011, Officers Freyberger and Cormier were on patrol in a fully marked City of Phoenix Police vehicle in the vicinity of 32nd Street and Thomas Road in Phoenix. The officers saw Plaintiff driving eastbound in a white Dodge Avenger. They ran a computerized license plate check on the car and discovered that the plate was registered to a Ford. DSOF ¶ 5. Officers Freyberger and Cormier decided to conduct a traffic stop to investigate the discrepancy.

When the officers got behind Plaintiff's vehicle, Plaintiff increased his speed and fled. He drove through a residential neighborhood at twice the legal speed limit, making many quick turns in an effort to elude the officers. DSOF ¶ 8. Plaintiff ran a red light and was weaving in and out of traffic lanes. DSOF ¶ 9. At this point the Officers had no information as to whether Plaintiff was armed.

Officers Freyberger and Cormier were soon joined in the chase by another patrol car driven by defendant Officer Delameter. The officers had their flashing lights and sirens engaged as they pursued Plaintiff, but he refused to stop. DSOF ¶ 11. A Phoenix Police helicopter soon joined in the chase and observed Plaintiff pull into an apartment complex and quickly run from his vehicle toward the apartment building. Using the helicopter's public address system, the air crew commanded Plaintiff to reveal himself and give up. He refused to comply.

By this time the officers on the ground, including the Defendants, arrived at the apartment complex and saw Plaintiff hiding behind a pillar. The officers repeatedly ordered Plaintiff to reveal himself and get down on the ground. When he did not comply, Officers Hernandez, Peelman, Freyberger and Daley rushed Plaintiff as he remained crouched behind the pillar, ordered him to show his hands, and eventually got him on the ground lying face down on his stomach with his arms underneath him. DSOF ¶ 15.

Plaintiff struggled with the officers when they tried to pull his arms out from underneath him. After approximately 45 seconds of struggling, the officers were able to get Plaintiff's hands out from underneath him and behind his back for handcuffing. DSOF ¶ 17.

Ultimately, Plaintiff pled guilty to unlawful flight from law enforcement, possession of a dangerous drug and drug paraphernalia and was sentenced to prison, where he is currently serving his sentence.

An investigation conducted by the Phoenix Police Department subsequently concluded that the officers did not use excessive force and acted reasonably under the circumstances. DSOF ¶ 19, Ex. 2.

B. Plaintiff's Facts

Plaintiff's version of the facts, which we assume as true for purposes of the current motion, differs only slightly from Defendants' version. Plaintiff acknowledges that he was involved in a "short low-speed pursuit with the officers." Compl. at 3A. He also acknowledges that once at the apartment complex he "bailed out of the car and hid from [the] officers." Id . He then asserts that "once detected" he was ordered at gunpoint to lay face down on the ground (which was covered with small rocks) with his arms out to his sides. He contends he complied with this order. He then claims that when other officers arrived at the scene, "many jumped on top of me instead of simply handcuffing me, " and "[o]ne of the named ...


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