Rudley v. Bryant, No. 18-2533 (8th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that Officers Bryant and Oldham used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment when they arrested her and her minor son. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The court held that the officers' actions did not violate plaintiff and her son's clearly established rights, because there was no controlling authority at the time establishing a right to be free from any of the three tasings applied to plaintiff. The situation in this case involved aggressive behavior and a chaotic combative scene. Therefore, the court held that plaintiff failed to identify a robust and consensus of cases that placed the excessive force question beyond debate at the time of the violation. The court also held that Oldham did not violate a clearly established right by handcuffing the son's wrists behind his back.
Court Description: Wollman, Author, with Loken and Stras, Circuit Judges] Civil case - Civil rights. The situation leading to the defendant police officer Bryant tasing plaintiff and arresting her was chaotic and involved aggressive behavior on plaintiff's part, rendering her case different than the cases plaintiff relies on to show an arresting officer used excessive arrest in securing an arrest and more like the cases where this court has determined that an arrestee's aggressive and non-compliant behavior made it reasonable for an officer to use force; as a result, plaintiff has not identified a "robust consensus of cases" that place the excessive force question beyond debate, and defendant was entitled to summary judgment based on qualified immunity; further, defendant police officer Bryant did not violate a clearly established right by handcuffing Bryant's son's wrists behind his back as the son was fighting with another officer, posed a threat to police and was subdued with a minimum amount of force.