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Jefferson v. Reddish

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 4, 2017

JORDAN JEFFERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
THADDEUS REDDISH, MATTHEW ABBATE, DAVID GULIUZZA, JUSTIN MARSHALL, ANGELO MAURIELLO, FRANK LIMON, ARIEL MELENDEZ, and CITY OF NEW HAVEN, Defendants.

          RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Warren W. Eginton, Senior U.S. District Judge.

         The genesis of this civil rights action is plaintiff Jordan Jefferson's seizure at a nightclub in New Haven, Connecticut. Plaintiff alleges violations of his Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by the individual defendants, who are New Haven police officers. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants Reddish, Abbate, Guliuzza, Marshall and Mauriello are liable for falsely arresting him, subjecting him to excessive force, and setting unreasonable bail bond in violation of the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments; and that defendants Police Chief Limon, Assistant Chief Melendez and Sergeant Guliuzza are liable for failing to train and supervise properly the officers, who committed the unconstitutional acts. Plaintiff also alleges state law claims of negligent and intentional assault, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and liability of the City of New Haven pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes § 52-557n(a)(1).

         Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment on all counts. For the following reasons, the motion for summary judgment will be granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         In support of the motion for summary judgment, the parties have submitted statements of facts in compliance with Local Rule 56(a), along with exhibits and supporting materials. The parties appear to disagree on most of the facts relevant to this action.

         Chief Limon and Assistant Chief Melendez have represented that the City of New Haven experienced an escalation of crime in the downtown bar area. On October 2, 2010, the defendants entered the nightclub known as Alchemy/Elevate for inspection. The nightclub had low lighting and the music was playing when the police officers entered. Assistant Chief Melendez has represented that he perceived the need to call for backup due to a “mass exodus.” Plaintiff maintains that there is conflicting evidence in the record regarding how many individuals were leaving the nightclub when the defendants entered the nightclub.

         Defendants maintain that the occupancy limit of the club was 150 and that a headcount revealed more than 250 people within the club at the time of the incident. Plaintiff asserts that there is conflicting evidence concerning the number of people in the club and occupancy limits.

         After the nightclub lights were turned on and the music turned off, the officers commenced a check of the patrons in conjunction with Connecticut Liquor Control. The patrons were instructed to sit down and to take out their IDs. Assistant Chief Melendez has indicated that he told the patrons to put away their cell phones “for the time being.” According to Officer Reddish, he also told the patrons to stay off and to put their cell phones down.

         Some of the officers found the patrons to be cooperative, while others indicated that the patrons kept on moving around and failed to comply with instructions.

         Plaintiff, who was a football player for Yale University aged 20 years old, was a patron at the nightclub on that evening. He had consumed two beers and a mixed drink prior to heading over to the nightclub. He recalls that the police ordered patrons not to use their cell phones during the investigation. After hearing this order, plaintiff looked at a notification on his phone and put it on silent. Officer Reddish then instructed him to move to a different area.

         Approximately ten minutes later, the police instructed patrons to form a single line to exit the club. The line proceeded past the location where plaintiff was seated. During the exiting process, another patron began to speak with plaintiff. Plaintiff was instructed not speak to the individual. Plaintiff responded, “Why not? This is my friend.” Officer Reddish advised plaintiff that he was under arrest, told him to stand up and place his hands behind his back. Plaintiff complied with this instruction. An officer whom plaintiff could not see grabbed his wrist and began to cuff him.

         Plaintiff turned over left his shoulder towards the officer and asked him not to put the cuffs on so tightly. Plaintiff has stated that he “asked him nicely.” Plaintiff maintains that he was thereafter tased, that he made no movements, and that his left hand remained cuffed. Defendants assert that plaintiff “attempted to prevent himself from being brought to the ground by officers by spreading his feet to maintain his balance and by holding his hands out to his side at waist height. Chief Limon was not present during plaintiff's tasing.

         The City of New Haven requires all officers to adhere to the training protocol established by state standards. The defendant police officers have all successfully completed the municipal police officer training academy program or a state-accepted equivalent. Chief Limon was granted a Certificate of Comparative Compliance from the State of Connecticut Police Officers Standards and Training Council. ...


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