Sam v. Thompson, No. 17-30593 (5th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Sam, aged 16, walked with friends to Walmart, where they split up. The group left the store; Stag, stole a jacket. At 9:49 p.m., Officer Richard responded to the reported theft, encountered Sam’s group, and activated his emergency lights. Sam’s group scattered. Another officer threatened to release a dog if they didn’t stop. Sam lay face down on the ground, with his hands on the back of his head. Sam stated in deposition that Richard slapped Sam's face, kneed him, handcuffed him, and shoved him against a car. The slap did not break the skin, but a scrape drew blood from Sam’s hip. Richard agreed that Sam did not resist, but denied using force. Another officer handcuffed Stag. Both were placed in Richard’s patrol car. Richard returned to Walmart at 10:03 p.m. A security guard identified Stag as the thief. At 10:45 p.m., Richard drove the boys to the police station. Sam’s mother picked him up. Sam did not visit a doctor that night. One of Sam’s friends stated in deposition that Sam “looked like he got hit” and “his face was a little red and bruised.” Medical records generated about six weeks later indicate that Sam complained of lingering hip pain. The district court dismissed Sam’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint. The Fifth Circuit vacated in part. Sam’s evidence of excessive force is sufficient to survive a summary judgment motion. The court affirmed rejection of an unjustified detention claim.