United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Westry (“Plaintiff”) has sued Victor Leon
(“Defendant”), an officer in the Waterbury Police
Department, in his individual capacity under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for excessive force in violation of the Fourth
Amendment. Compl., ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 4, 8 (May 23,
Leon has moved for summary judgment, and Mr. Westry has
reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion for summary
judgment is GRANTED in part and
DENIED in part.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
April 5, 2016, Eric and Maria Westry were married and had a
daughter, Amelia Westry, born on February 27, 2015. Pl.'s
Local Rule 56 Statement, ECF No. 34-1 ¶¶ 1, 14
(July 5, 2019) (“Pl.'s SMF”). On
that date, Victor Leon, a police officer with the Waterbury
Police Department for the City of Waterbury, came to their
home. Id. ¶ 10.
to the Victim Services' Hotline from Mrs. Westry prompted
Officer Leon's visit. Id. ¶ 13. In that
call, Mrs. Westry described being under the kitchen table,
while her husband was locked in the bedroom with their baby
daughter, Amelia. Id. When Officer Leon and other
police officers arrived, Mrs. Westry described having been
assaulted by Mr. Westry and stated that he continued to be
locked in the bedroom with their child. Id. ¶
14. Mr. Westry allegedly had “slap[ped] her in the face
numerous times and drag[ged] her out of the bedroom.”
Id. ¶ 15. Officer Leon noticed red marks all
over Mrs. Westry's face. Id. ¶ 16.
Leon and the other police officers knocked on the bedroom
door, but Mr. Westry did not open the door. Id.
¶ 18. Officer Leon, who claimed he feared for the safety
of the child, broke through the door and entered the room.
Id. ¶ 24. He found Mr. Westry lying in bed and
holding young Amelia. Id. ¶ 25.
Westry recorded the interaction in the bedroom with the
police officers. Ex. 1: Cell Phone Video, ECF No. 34-2 (July
11, 2019). The resulting videotape mainly shows the ceiling
of the bedroom, but the accompanying audio captured the
voices of both the police officers and Mr. Westry.
entering the bedroom, an officer asked Mr. Westry,
“Sir, do you want to get up?” to which he
responded, “No, I don't.” Id. An
officer continued to ask Mr. Westry to leave his bed, and Mr.
Westry responded several times by stating, “Leave my
house please.” Id. An officer then can be
heard saying, “Listen, we're gonna [sic] do this
one way: you're either gonna [sic] leave the bed, or
we're gonna [sic] have to take you off the bed, ”
and Mr. Westry responds, “you're going to have to
kill me.” Id.
officer then said, “I'll take the kid.”
Id. Another officer said, ‘Sir, we got a baby
there, ” and Mr. Westry then said, “No. I will
hand her to you.” Id. Amelia Westry can then
be heard crying. Mr. Westry then said, “I am handing
her to you.” Id. One of the police officers
then said, “You're gonna [sic] hurt the
baby.” Id. Mr. Westry then said, “Get
off of me, ” while an officer responded, “Relax,
no, relax.” Id. An officer then used the TASER.
Id. Mr. Westry then stated, “I have a heart
condition.” Id. The officers then instructed
Mr. Westry to “put [his] hands behind [his] back”
and to “get on [his] stomach.” Id.
the police placed Mr. Westry in handcuffs, an officer said to
him, “Why you gotta be like that man?”
Id. Mr. Westry said, “I'm taking blood
pressure medication, you coulda [sic] killed me.”
Id. An officer then said, “You should've
listened to us. You know what's easier? You just get out
of bed when the police ask. It's ridiculous. There's
no reason to do all of this. Swing your feet up.”
Id. The officer further said that Mr. Westry
“could've made it a little easier, could've
just gotten up it would've been done. Gotta do it the
hard way.” Id.
last voices heard on the recording are police officers.
Id. One stated, “What's up buddy?, ”
and another responded, “[inaudible] gotta tase
somebody.” Id. The officer asked, “That
was you?” and the other officer responded,
officers arrested and charged Mr. Westry. Pl.'s SMF
¶ 35. All criminal charges brought against Mr. Westry by
Officer Leon, however, ultimately were dismissed.
Id. ¶ B6.
23, 2017, Mr. Westry filed a Complaint against Officer Leon
in his individual capacity under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Compl.
¶ 8. Mr. Westry seeks compensatory damages, punitive
damages, attorneys' fees, and costs. Id. at 2.
26, 2017, Leon timely filed his Answer with affirmative
defenses and a request for a jury trial. Answer, ECF No. 11
(June 26, 2017).
17, 2019, Officer Leon moved for summary judgment. Mot. for
Summ. J., ECF No. 33 (June 17, 2019) (“Def.'s
Mot.”); Mem. of Law in Supp. of Def.'s Mot., ECF
No. 33-1 (June 17, 2019) (“Def.'s Mem.”);
Local Rule 56(a)(1) Statement of Undisputed Material Facts,
ECF No. 33-2 (June 17, 2019) (“Def.'s SMF”).
5, 2019, Plaintiff filed his opposition. Pl.'s Mem. in
Opp. to Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 34 (July 5, 2019)
(“Pl.'s Opp.”); Pl.'s SMF.
17, 2019, Officer Leon filed a reply to Plaintiff's
response. Def.'s Reply to Pl.'s Opp., ECF No. 36