Wright v. City of Euclid, No. 19-3452 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Plain-clothes Euclid officers approached Wright’s parked SUV with weapons drawn. Thinking he was being robbed, Wright, an African-American, tried to back up. Officers flashed their badges. Wright stopped the SUV. Officers opened the driver’s door. Wright had no weapon. The officers simultaneously deployed a taser and pepper-sprayed him at point-blank range, while Wright remained seated. Wright had trouble getting out because of a colostomy bag stapled to his abdomen. He was recovering from an operation. The encounter caused bleeding. The officers arrested Wright “arising from a drug investigation,” although they found no drugs on him. Wright was detained for more than nine hours and subjected to an intrusive body scan after the officers knew of Wright’s medical condition. No drug-related charges were ever brought against him.
The Sixth Circuit reinstated Wright's civil rights case. Even if the officers had no knowledge of Wright’s medical condition, other facts, construed in Wright’s favor, could support a reasonable juror’s finding that Wright did not actively resist. An officer may not tase a citizen not under arrest merely for failure to follow orders when the officer has no reasonable fear for his safety. With respect to the Monell claim, the evidence includes the Chris Rock video, played during the city's use-of-force training, in which the comedian talks about police misconduct. There was an offensive cartoon in Euclid’s police-training manual, showing an officer in riot gear beating a prone, unarmed civilian with a club, with the caption “protecting and serving the poop out of you.” Wright has sufficient evidence of municipal policy.