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Anderson v. Waterbury Police Department

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 28, 2017

TRAVIS ANDERSON, Plaintiff,
v.
WATERBURY POLICE DEPARTMENT, RYAN CUBELLS, MARTIN SCANLON, and GILBERT, Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Victor A. Bolden United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, Travis Anderson, brings this case against Defendants, the Waterbury Police Department (“Waterbury PD”), Waterbury Police Department Officers Martin Scanlon and Lee Gilbert (collectively, the “Waterbury Defendants”), and former Waterbury police officer Ryan Cubbells. ECF No. 45. Anderson brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”), alleging that the individual Defendants subjected him to unreasonable search and seizure and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and that Waterbury PD is also liable for these violations by the individual Defendants, due to a failure to properly train and supervise them. Anderson also alleges that Cubbells is liable for the intentional infliction of emotional distress under Connecticut state law. Defendant Cubbells has filed a motion for summary judgment on all claims, ECF No. 47, as have the other Defendants, ECF No. 48.

         For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the Defendants' motions for summary judgment. Specifically, the Court grants summary judgment as to Count One, alleging unreasonable search and seizure and as to Count Three, alleging that the City of Waterbury and/or the Waterbury PD are liable because of policies or customs exhibiting deliberate indifference to constitutional rights, in part because Anderson concedes these arguments. Defendant Waterbury PD is, therefore, terminated from this case. The Court denies summary judgment as to Count Two, as to Anderson's claim against Cubbells regarding the December 23, 2013 post-arrest search; as to Anderson's claim that Cubbells struck him on November 3, 2013 and struck him and slammed him against the police vehicle on December 23, 2013; and as to Gilbert and Scanlon's failure to intervene claims in relation to these incidents. The Court also denies summary judgment as to Count Four, Anderson's claim that Cubbells is liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress, as Defendants' motions for summary judgment fail to discuss this claim.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Anderson is a resident of the state of Connecticut. Second Amend. Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 45. Cubbells, Gilbert, and Scanlon were, at all times relevant to this case, police officers employed by the City of Waterbury. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶¶ 2-4, ECF No. 47-2.

         On either October 3, 2013 or October 6, 2013, Anderson testifies that he encountered Cubbells on one occasion. Anderson Dep. 23:23-25, 26:20-24, 27:14-20, Def.'s Ex. D, ECF No. 47-6. He testifies that it was sometime between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Anderson Dep. 27:18-20, Def.'s Ex. D. Anderson had alleged that Cubbells approached him while he was in front of his apartment building in Waterbury, Connecticut, and that Cubbells had verbally harassed him and threatened to one day soon catch Anderson and get him. Second Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 8-9. Anderson further alleges that, during this first encounter with Cubbells, Cubbells referred to him and a “Puerto Rican” woman as “you people.” Anderson Dep. 20:22-23-4, ECF No. 47-6. Cubbells disputes these fact and claims he had never encountered Anderson before November 3, 2013. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 7; Cubbells Aff. ¶ 15, Def.'s Ex. A, ECF No. 47-3. The parties do not dispute that no one searched nor arrested Anderson during this alleged first encounter with Cubbells. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 6.

         A. November 3, 2013

         On November 3, 2013, around midnight, Cubbells and Gilbert were patrolling the area of West Main Street near Sperry Street in Waterbury. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 8. The parties dispute whether Cubbells and Gilbert first encountered a Subaru driven by Anderson while they were driving behind him or when they were driving in the opposite direction from him. See Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶¶ 9-11, Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶¶ 9-11, ECF No. 54-1. According to Defendants, Cubbells and Gilbert were driving in the opposite direction from Anderson, so they needed to execute a U-turn to follow Anderson's vehicle in their police vehicle. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 12. At the time of the November 3, 2013 encounter, Anderson testifies that he was driving a Subaru that belonged to Anderson, though a friend, Lindsay Boylan, registered and insured the vehicle in her name on his behalf. Anderson Dep. 27:21-28:14, Def.'s Ex. D.

         1. Traffic Stop

         Cubbells and Gilbert testify that Anderson's vehicle then made a left turn without activating the left turn signal, which Anderson disputes. Cubbells Aff. ¶ 6. Anderson testifies that he activated his turn signal before turning left. Anderson Dep. 37:6-8, Def.'s Ex. D. Cubbells and Gilbert also testify that they observed the driver of the Subaru drinking from a silver and blue can that they believed to be a can of beer. Cubbells Aff ¶ 4; Gilbert Aff. ¶ 4, Def.'s Ex. B, ECF No. 47-4. Anderson disputes this fact, testifying that, while there was a can of Natural Ice beer in the car, neither he nor the passenger in the car, Colina Andrews, was drinking from it. Anderson Dep. 31:16-32:8, Def.'s Ex. D. Anderson testifies that the can of beer in the car was closed. Id. 32:6-8. The parties agree that the can of beer was in a cupholder above the radio, on or around the dashboard. Id. 39:22-41:12; Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 18.

         Cubbells and Gilbert testify that they stopped Anderson's vehicle because they observed the driver drinking from what they believed to be a can of beer and because the vehicle did not activate its left turn signal. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 13. After Anderson's Subaru made the left turn, Cubbells activated the lights and siren on the police vehicle, and the Subaru pulled over in response. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Cubbells approached the driver's side of the vehicle and Gilbert approached the passenger side. Id. ¶ 16. The parties dispute whether Cubbells and Gilbert could have detected the smell of fresh marijuana coming from the car. Id. ¶ 17; Anderson Aff. ¶¶ 13-14, Pl.'s Ex. B, ECF No. 54-4. Anderson testifies that no one had smoked marijuana in the Subaru that evening and that the vehicle did not smell like marijuana. Anderson Aff. ¶¶ 13-14. Anderson admits that there was marijuana in the car, in a book bag in the backseat. Anderson Dep. 48:11-14, Def.'s Ex. D.

         2. Conversation Between Cubbells and Anderson

         The parties dispute what happened after Cubbells approached the driver's side of the vehicle and Gilbert approached the passenger side. See Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶¶ 19-26; Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶¶ 19-26. Cubbells testifies that he requested Anderson's license, registration, and insurance information when he reached the driver's side window. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 19. According to Cubbells, Anderson seemed agitated and asked why the officers had stopped him. Id. ¶ 20. Cubbells then explained to Anderson why he was stopped. Id. ¶ 22. Cubbells testifies that Anderson did not comply with his order that Anderson should keep his hands visible and in front of him, and that Anderson instead kept touching an area near his right pants pocket and the right side of his waistband. Id. ¶¶ 23-24. Cubbells testifies that, once back up arrived, he asked Anderson to step out of his vehicle. Id. ¶ 25. Anderson disputes all of these facts. Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶¶ 19-24.

         Anderson instead testifies that Cubbells immediately ordered him to exit the vehicle, without even asking for his license and registration and before any back up came. Id. ¶¶ 19, 25. He testifies that he was not agitated but that he did ask Cubbells why Cubbells wanted him to step out of the vehicle, but that Cubbells never answered his question. Id. ¶ 20. He further testifies that he kept his hands in front of him on the steering wheel and visible to Cubbells at all times, without making any movements to touch the area near his right pants pocket and the right side of his waistband. Id. ¶¶ 23-24.

         3. Arrest and Search

         The parties also dispute what happened after Cubbells asked Anderson to step out of the Subaru. Cubbells testifies that Anderson did not comply with the order and instead reached both his hands towards the right side of his body, out of Cubbells's view. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 26; see also Anderson Dep. 160:7-13, Def.'s Ex. E, ECF No. 47-7 (describing Anderson reaching for his license and registration in glove compartment). The parties do not dispute that Cubbells then reached into the Subaru, grabbed both of Anderson's hands, and held onto Anderson's hands until Officer Shea[1] could assist him in removing Anderson from his vehicle. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 27; Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶ 27. Cubbells testifies that once he and Officer Shea removed Anderson from the vehicle, they gave Anderson several verbal commands to put his hands behind his back and stop resisting, which Anderson ignored. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 28. The parties do not dispute that Officer Shea and Cubbells eventually handcuffed Anderson. Id. ¶ 29; Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶ 29.

         Anderson disputes that, after Cubbells ordered him to step out of the Subaru, he reached with his hands towards the right side of his body and out of Cubbells's view or made any such motion. Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶ 26; see also Anderson Dep. 44:24-45:1, Def.'s Ex. D. Anderson also disputes that he failed to comply with Cubbells's and Officer Shea's orders to put his hands behind his back and stop resisting, he instead testifies that he did not resist. Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶ 28.

         The parties further dispute what occurred after Cubbells and Officer Shea handcuffed Anderson. Cubbells testifies that, during the search of Anderson's person, the officers found a loaded .38 Taurus special revolver in Anderson's right pants pocket, but Anderson testifies that the firearm was actually under the seat in the Subaru. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 30; Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶ 30. The parties do not dispute that Anderson did not have a permit for the firearm. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 31. Cubbells also testifies that, during the search of Anderson's person, the officers found “several knotted plastic bags containing a green leafy substance, a white crystal substance, and numerous clear capsules containing a white substance” in his front shirt pocket. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 32. Anderson disputes this and testifies that the only drugs that were on his person in the front shirt pocket were four or five capsules of Molly. Anderson Dep. 44:7-19, Def.'s Ex. D. Cubbells testifies that the officers also found a razor blade and $91.00 in cash in Anderson's left rear pocket, which Anderson disputes and states that the items were also in his front shirt pocket. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 33; Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶ 33.

         4. Alleged Use of Force

         Anderson testifies that, after he was handcuffed by one of the officers, they put him on the ground and had him sit on the curb towards the rear of the Subaru, while the officers searched the car. Anderson Dep. 47:1-23, Def.'s Ex. D. Anderson testifies that he complained that the handcuffs were too tight, which caused Cubbells to come around, pick him up, and hand him to Gilbert so that Gilbert could watch him and make sure he did not run away while the officers searched the car. Id. 48:19-49:3.

         Anderson testifies that, as Cubbells was loosening the handcuffs, Cubbells also struck Anderson four times in his right rib cage with an object that may have been a baton or a small flashlight. Anderson Dep. 49:4-10, Def.'s Ex. D. Anderson testifies that, as Cubbells was hitting him, Cubbells said “you want to have a fucking gun, huh, ” and while Anderson was whimpering about the pain in his ribs, Cubbells continued, “stop being a bitch, take it like a man.” Id. Anderson testifies that when he was struck with the metal object four times, he cried out in pain, “like an ow, ow, ow, ow sound.” Id. 52:21-23. Anderson testifies that after this, Cubbells did loosen the cuffs and put Anderson back on the curb and that, a minute later, he was placed in Officer Shea's vehicle. Id. 49:10-12. Anderson also testifies that, while Cubbells was hitting him in the ribs, Gilbert was standing next to Anderson and holding Anderson's arms. Id. 49:19-22. Defendants deny that Cubbells struck Anderson on November 3, 2013. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 77.

         Anderson testifies that, after Cubbells struck him in the ribs with a metal object, he remained in “gut wrenching” pain that “took [his] breath away” and that he was crying. Anderson Dep. 50:1-3, 54:15-21, Def.'s Ex. D. Anderson testifies, that during the booking process at the police station, he complained of pain and asked to go to the hospital, but the booking officer said “[a]fter I process you, ” and Anderson was not sent to the hospital. Id. 54:22-55:7.

         Following the November 3, 2013 arrest, Anderson was first seen by a medical professional on November 4, 2013 at the University of Connecticut Health Center for Correctional Managed Health Care (“UConn”). Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 81. Anderson admits in his Rule 56 Statement that the record of the November 4, 2013 visit to UConn did not refer to any pain in Anderson's ribs at the time of the visit. Id. ¶ 82; Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶ 82. Anderson testifies that on November 6, 2013, he had another visit at UConn and the record did reflect that he had a complaint of rib pain at that time. Anderson Dep. 58:18-24, Def.'s Ex. D. Anderson testifies that the sole reason for this visit was the pain in his ribs, that the staff at UConn recommended x-rays, that the x-rays were done and showed no fractures, and that he also complained of wrist pain from the handcuffs during this visit. Id. 59:9-60:19.

         The parties do not dispute that the report from the x-ray of Anderson taken on November 8, 2013 indicated that there were no fractures or signs of trauma to the right hemithorax or ribs. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶¶ 84-85. There is no dispute that, while Anderson has testified that there was bruising of his ribs, there is no notation of that in the medical records. Id. ¶ 86. There is also no dispute that there is no report of Anderson's wrist pain in the medical records, though there is a record of Anderson's complaint that there was numbness from the handcuffs. Id. ¶ 88-89. Anderson also does not dispute that he did not seek further treatment for his ribs or his wrists after he was released from jail on November 10, 2013 Id. ¶¶ 90-91.

         The parties also do not dispute the following facts. The officers took Anderson into custody and the contents of the Subaru were itemized. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 34. Anderson was not the owner of the 1998 Subaru and it was not registered in his name, instead Ms. Boylan was the owner of record and the Subaru was registered in her name. Id. ¶¶ 35-37. Anderson was arrested and charged with: criminal possession of a pistol or revolver, carrying a pistol/revolver without a permit, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, illegal possession near a school, drinking while operating a motor vehicle, restricted turns - failure to give proper signal and interfering with an officer. Id. ¶ 38.

         B. December 23, 2013

         On December 23, 2013, at approximately 5:38 PM, Cubbells and Scanlon were on patrol together. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 39. At this time, the officers were in a marked police vehicle on Willow Street, which Scanlon was driving, with Cubbells as a passenger. Id. ¶ 40. While the police vehicle was traveling on Willow Street, a Subaru was traveling in front of the police vehicle, which Anderson was driving. Id. ¶¶ 41, 47. Anderson does not dispute these facts. Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶¶ 39-41, 47.

         1. Traffic Stop

         The parties dispute what happened next. Cubbells testifies that the Subaru abruptly turned towards the right side of the road without activating the turn signal, that it stopped on the side of the road with a portion of the car blocking traffic, and that the Subaru then abruptly pulled back into traffic in front of the police vehicle. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 42. Cubbells testifies that, based off the erratic movements of the Subaru, the officers decided to execute a motor vehicle stop and turned on the emergency lights and siren. Id. ¶ 43. Anderson testifies that he made no such erratic movements in the Subaru and that he signaled before re-entering traffic. Anderson First Rule 56 Statement ¶¶ 42-43. The parties agree that the Subaru did not immediately stop and continued south on Willow Street at a steady speed. Id. ¶ 44; Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 44.

         The parties dispute what occurred before the Subaru stopped. Cubbells testified that the Subaru stopped at a red light and then drove through it, that the Subaru then passed several cars on the right, and that the Subaru drove through another red light. Cubbells Rule 56 Statement ¶ 45. Cubbells also testified that the driver of the Subaru was observed emptying the contents of a bag into his mouth and making several movements to his mouth with a cupped right hand. Id. ΒΆ 46. Cubbells further testifies that ...


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