Craig v. Martin, No. 19-10013 (5th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Officer Martin responded to a call about neighbors throwing trash in the caller’s yard. A subsequent 911 call came from the man’s neighbor, Craig, complaining that the man had grabbed her son by the neck because the boy had allegedly littered. Martin activated his body camera at the scene. Martin got into a verbal altercation with Craig; Craig’s 14-year-old, 15-year-old, and adult daughters became involved. Martin used physical force to get them into his squad car.
Craig and her children sued Martin for unlawful arrest and excessive force. Craig also sued Martin on behalf of her another minor child, alleging injuries suffered as a bystander. The district court dismissed A.C.’s claim as incognizable; it dismissed the remaining claims for unlawful arrest, holding Martin was entitled to qualified immunity. The court denied Martin qualified immunity on the excessive force claims, concluding that the video evidence submitted by Martin was “too uncertain.” The Fifth Circuit reversed the denial of qualified immunity on the excessive force claims, expressing no opinion on the dismissal of the other claims. Martin’s actions were sufficiently measured in relation to the plaintiffs’ resistance. Martin’s conduct was not objectively unreasonable and did not violate any of their Fourth Amendment rights. Plaintiffs failed to provide any controlling precedent showing that Martin’s particular conduct violated a clearly established right.