United States District Court, D. Arizona
George W. Schaffer, Plaintiff,
Larry Hooten and Daniel Morales, Defendants.
G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge.
Plaintiff George Schaffer filed a complaint against
Defendants Larry Hooten and Daniel Morales, alleging federal
and state law violations arising from their encounter with
and detention of Plaintiff on July 29, 2016. Doc. 17. The
Court granted judgment on the pleadings for the majority of
Plaintiff's claims. Doc. 27. Defendants now move for
summary judgment on Plaintiff's remaining 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 Fourth Amendment false arrest claim. Doc. 51. The
motion is fully briefed, and no party requests oral argument.
See Docs. 51;53;55. For the reasons that follow, the
Court will deny Defendants' motion.
following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.
Plaintiff is a resident of Yavapai County, Arizona, and a
volunteer for the Skull Valley Fire Department
(“SVFD”). Doc. 52 ¶ 16. Defendants are
Yavapai County deputy sheriffs. Id. ¶ 5. On
July 29, 2016, Defendants were dispatched for a
search-and-rescue call on the backside of Copper Basin Road
towards Skull Valley. Id. ¶ 3. Plaintiff also
joined the search-and-rescue team, responding to a call for
help from SVFD volunteers. Id. ¶ 15. Hooten
oversaw the mission as the search-and-rescue coordinator.
Id. ¶ 6.
scene, Plaintiff was not wearing a shirt, uniform, or
insignia identifying him as a volunteer with SVFD.
Id. ¶ 20. He drove up in his personal vehicle,
and he testified that he switched to the SVFD rescue vehicle
before he met Defendants. Docs. 52 ¶ 20; 54 ¶ 20.
Plaintiff first met with Morales at the search-and-rescue
staging area. Docs. 52 ¶ 21; 52-1 at 171:17- 173:4.
Plaintiff and Morales discussed the location of the injured
party and traveled down the road so Plaintiff could show
Morales where he thought the victim was located. Docs. 52
¶ 21; 52-1 at 171:17- 173:4. They then returned to the
staging area. Docs. 52 ¶¶ 21-23; 54 ¶¶
parties dispute what transpired next. According to Plaintiff,
he encountered Hooten when he returned to the staging area,
introduced himself as “George with Skull Valley Fire,
” and then left because Hooten did not respond. Doc.
52-1 at 179:2-13. Defendant Hooten does not recall this
conversation and only testified to an unidentified individual
yelling something about being on the wrong road. Docs. 52
¶ 23-25; 52-1 at 78:21-79:11. Plaintiff also testified
that after the first conversation he yelled to Hooten that
the Yavapai County Sheriff deputies were going in on the
wrong road. Doc. 52-1 at 185:9-24. Plaintiff testified that
he could see Hooten and expected to have a conversation with
him, but Hooten did not follow-up. Id. at 187:8-13.
Whether Hooten could identify Plaintiff as the individual who
yelled at him is disputed. Compare Doc. 52 ¶
25-26 (stating an unidentified individual), with
Doc. 54 ¶¶ 25-26 (stating Hooten identified
Plaintiff in his incident report). Hooten asked the chief of
the SVFD who yelled at him, and the chief answered that he
did not know. Doc. 52 ¶ 29.
the search-and-rescue team recovered the injured party,
Plaintiff attended a debriefing by Hooten. Id.
¶ 33. During the debriefing, Defendants claim that
Plaintiff was visibly rude, disrespectful, and disruptive,
causing Hooten concern over whether Plaintiff belonged to the
SVFD. Id. ¶ 34-35. According to Defendants,
Hooten asked Plaintiff to identify himself, and Plaintiff
failed to respond and glared at Hooten. Doc. 52 ¶¶
37-39. Eventually, after Hooten requested
Plaintiff's name five to ten more times, Plaintiff
stated: “You don't need that.” Doc. 52 ¶
43. Defendants claim no one identified Plaintiff as a member
of the SVFD. Doc. 52 ¶ 45.
disputes Defendants version of the debriefing encounter,
stating that he did not make any verbal comments at the
debriefing and that Defendant Hooten never articulated a
concern about Plaintiff's membership in the SVFD. Doc. 54
¶ 34. Plaintiff testified that he made a
“tschh” noise during the debriefing because he
felt Hooten was being disrespectful to members of the SVFD.
See Docs. 52-1 at 201-03; 52 ¶ 36. And
Plaintiff asserts that he verbally answered each time Hooten
asked for identification by saying: “You don't need
that.” Docs. 52 ¶ 44; 54 ¶ 39; 52-1 at 208.
Plaintiff additionally argues that Hooten specifically asked
the SVFD fire chief: “Chief are you going to help your
man out here?” Doc. 54 ¶ 45. The fire chief was
not given the opportunity to respond. Doc. 52-1 at 215:21-22.
parties agree that after about fifteen minutes of back and
forth, Plaintiff said that he was a member of SVFD, did not
provide his name, and stated: “I'm out of here. He
then turned and walked away from the debriefing. Docs. 52
¶ 46; 54 ¶ 46. Defendants followed, requested
Plaintiff's full name and date of birth, and warned that
if he refused he would be handcuffed or arrested. Doc. 52
¶ 47 (handcuffed); Doc. 54 ¶ 47 (arrested). Hooten
gave Plaintiff a final warning and then instructed Morales to
handcuff Plaintiff. Doc. 52 ¶¶ 56. After he was
handcuffed, Plaintiff gave Defendants his full name and the
handcuffs were removed. Id. ¶¶57-59.
Defendants assert that the handcuffs were removed
immediately, but Plaintiff states that he remained handcuffed
for approximately five to ten minutes. Id. ¶
61; Doc. 54 ¶ 59. Plaintiff also testified that Morales
had a night stick, but Defendants dispute this testimony,
stating that they were not issued night sticks. Docs. 52
¶ 74; 54 ¶ 74.
seeking summary judgment “bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion and identifying those portions of [the record]
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate if
the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party, shows “that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a).
Summary judgment is also appropriate against a party who
“fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the
existence of an element essential to that party's case,
and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at
trial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
will preclude summary judgment, and the disputed evidence
must be “such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Defendants' Summary Judgment Motion
move for summary judgment on the § 1983 false arrest
claim because (1) Defendants had reasonable suspicion to stop
and detain Plaintiff under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1
(1968); (2) Defendants' investigatory stop was not an
arrest; (3) Defendants had probable cause to arrest
Plaintiff; (4) Defendants are protected by qualified
immunity; and (5) Plaintiff is not entitled to punitive
Reasonable Suspicion for a Terry Stop.
argue that they had reasonable suspicion that Plaintiff was
impersonating a public servant in violation of A.R.S. §
13-2406. Defendants also argue that it was unlawful for
Plaintiff to refuse to provide his identity after an
officer's request under A.R.S. § 13-2412. Doc. 51 at
Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable
searches and seizures” by the government, and
“‘its protections extend to brief investigatory
stops of persons . . . that fall short of traditional
arrest.'” United States v. Arvizu, 534
U.S. 266, 273 (2002) (citing Terry, 392 U.S. at 9);
see also Ramirez v. City of Buena Park, 560 F.3d
1012, 1020 (9th Cir. 2009). An investigatory stop does not
violate the Fourth Amendment “if the officer's
action is supported by reasonable suspicion to believe that
criminal activity may be afoot.” Arvizu, 534
U.S. at 273 (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court
must look at the “totality of the circumstances”
to determine whether the officer had an objective basis to
suspect wrongdoing. Id. The Court may consider how
the facts are interpreted by a trained officer.
Cortez, 449 U.S. at 418. But the articulated facts
supporting reasonable suspicion must be more than mere
subjective impressions of a particular officer. Nicacio
v. U.S. INS, 797 F.2d 700, 705 (9th Cir. 1985).
Permissible deductions or rational ...