-TFM Miles v. Dickey (INMATE2), No. 2:2007cv00950 - Document 93 (M.D. Ala. 2011)

Court Description: OPINION entered pursuant to chambers instruction (Transcript of Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law). Signed by Honorable Myron H. Thompson on 2/10/11. (djy, )
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-TFM Miles v. Dickey (INMATE2) Doc. 93 1 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 FOR 3 THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA 4 NORTHERN DIVISION 5 6 7 8 LOUIS MILES 9 vs. 10 DOCKET NUMBER: 2:07-CV-950-MHT WILLIAM B. DICKEY 11 12 13 FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW 14 15 16 17 18 * * * * * * * * * * * * 19 20 21 HEARD BEFORE: The Hon. Myron H. Thompson 22 HEARD ON: February 8, 2011 23 HEARD AT: Montgomery, Alabama. 24 APPEARANCES: Charles Stewart, Esq. Summer Davis, Esq. Wallace Mills, Esq. 25 MITCHELL P. REISNER, RMR, CRR Official Federal Court Reporter U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (334) 235-8218 / TopStenoman@yahoo.com Dockets.Justia.com 2 1 2 WHEREUPON, THE FOLLOWING PROCEEDINGS WERE HEARD BEFORE THE HON. MYRON H. THOMPSON ON FEBRUARY 8, 2011 AT THE UNITED STATES COURTHOUSE IN MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA: 3 4 FINDINGS OF FACT 5 AND 6 CONCLUSIONS OF LAW: 7 THE COURT: Counsel the Court has considered the 8 evidence and now makes its, or reaches its, findings of fact and 9 makes its conclusions of law. 10 Plaintiff Louis Miles has sued defendant W. B. Dickey, 11 an officer, claiming that Dickey used excessive force when he 12 employed a canine assistant to subdue Miles during an arrest. 13 Miles sustained numerous bite wounds during the attack and seeks 14 to recover compensatory and punitive damages as well as 15 reasonable attorneys' fees for violation of his Fourth Amendment 16 right against excessive force. 17 Between one and two a.m on the morning of September 18 ten, two thousand seven, a business security alarm alerted 19 Montgomery police. 20 responded to the alarm at Mainline Supply Company. 21 that the gate leading to the rear of the property was partially 22 opened, and the padlock cut. 23 on to the property to investigate. 24 25 Officer Dickey and his canine assistant Dickey saw He called for backup and proceeded He saw Miles's silhouette inside the building, and then observed him exit the business carrying two boxes of metal MITCHELL P. REISNER, RMR, CRR Official Federal Court Reporter U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (334) 235-8218 / TopStenoman@yahoo.com 3 1 fittings toward a Jeep. As Miles approached the Jeep, Dickey 2 identified himself. 3 stop and lie down or he would release the dog. Dickey initially told Miles three times to Miles dropped the boxes and then attempted to go inside 4 5 the building. 6 from escaping into the business. 7 "Zak," chased Miles and bit and held his arm. 8 resisted, probably out of fear that he was being attacked by the 9 dog, but nonetheless resisted and the dog continued to bite in 10 Dickey then released the canine to prevent Miles The canine assistant, known as Miles then an attempt to get a hold on Miles. The dog bit both Miles's left arm as well as his right 11 12 arm. The struggle continued as long as Miles continued to 13 resist. 14 It probably seemed like that, but it didn't last that long. 15 When Miles finally dropped to the ground and no longer resisted, 16 Dickey told the dog to disengage and the dog complied. 17 I don't believe that it lasted three to four minutes. Medics later arrived on the scene and gave an initial 18 treatment for the dog bites. 19 hospital where he received stitches and antiseptic for his 20 wounds. 21 Miles was then taken to the The law in this area is fairly well established. To 22 prevail, Miles must prove each of the following facts by a 23 preponderance of the evidence: 24 committed acts that violated Miles' constitutional right not to 25 be subjected to excessive force; and, second, that Dickey's acts First, that Dickey intentionally MITCHELL P. REISNER, RMR, CRR Official Federal Court Reporter U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (334) 235-8218 / TopStenoman@yahoo.com 4 1 were the proximate or legal cause of damages sustained by Miles. 2 With regard to the first element, the determination of 3 whether excessive force was used during an arrest requires 4 careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each 5 particular case, while keeping in mind that police officers are 6 often forced to make split second judgments in circumstances 7 that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving with the amount 8 of force that is necessary in a particular situation. In evaluating claims of excessive force, courts usually 9 10 consider several factors. And they are the severity of the 11 crime at issue, the risk of harm to the officer or others, and 12 whether the suspect is resisting arrest or fleeing. The law is also clearly established that government 13 14 officers may not use gratuitous force against a prisoner, or in 15 this case someone who has been arrested who has already been 16 subdued. 17 sadistically to cause harm is clearly established by law. 18 In other words, the use of force maliciously and The first issue confronting the Court is whether there 19 was a reasonable basis for Dickey to use his dog to attack 20 Miles. 21 The Court believes there was. This was a nighttime incident. It appeared that at 22 least, and I think reasonably, to Dickey that Miles planned to 23 reenter the building. 24 to use would be a dog, and he had warned Miles not to resist. 25 He was also by himself, which is probably the most important He decided that the less intrusive force MITCHELL P. REISNER, RMR, CRR Official Federal Court Reporter U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (334) 235-8218 / TopStenoman@yahoo.com 5 1 factor. 2 I think under these circumstances to have used a dog 3 when confronting someone in the dark -- or essentially at night 4 I should say, there was light -- was reasonable. 5 clear that Miles had his car there and there was also the 6 possibility of using the car as well; that is, Miles' use of the 7 car. 8 9 Also, it was The more troubling factor is the amount of injury caused by the dog to Miles. I don't believe that Dickey used 10 the dog either initially or throughout the entire incident 11 either maliciously or sadistically to cause harm. 12 time, I don't buy Dickey's argument or testimony that Mr. Miles 13 was actually attacking the dog. 14 the dog attacked Miles because Miles was resisting the dog, 15 perhaps even out of fear. 16 was happening, and I think he continued to resist. 17 result, I think the dog continued to attack. 18 At the same I am convinced, however, that Indeed, I think he was afraid of what And as a I think it's just an unfortunate scenario that happened 19 that night. However, I think the dog did act reasonably in 20 light of the overall circumstances because Miles did not -- was 21 not subdued or he did not cease resisting. 22 that the dog's actions were reasonable as well. As a result, I think 23 Do I need to make any other findings of fact? 24 MR. STEWART: 25 MR. MILLS: No, Your Honor. I don't believe so, Judge. MITCHELL P. REISNER, RMR, CRR Official Federal Court Reporter U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (334) 235-8218 / TopStenoman@yahoo.com 6 1 THE COURT: As I said before, I do think it's an 2 unfortunate scenario, Mr. Miles, but I really don't think Mr. 3 Dickey acted maliciously or sadistically. 4 probably don't remember it that clearly, but I think you did 5 probably resist and I think the dog was unwilling to give up 6 until you had given in. And I think you 7 I'd like to thank Counsel for the plaintiff very much. 8 Both of you did an excellent job of presenting this case to the 9 Court. I'd like to commend you both. 10 MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Judge. 11 THE COURT: Anything else, Counsel? 12 MR. MILLS: No, Your Honor. 13 THE COURT: The Court will enter judgment for the 14 defendant. 15 Court's in recess. 16 (Whereupon, the proceedings were concluded.) 17 18 19 20 21 * * * * * * * * 22 23 24 25 MITCHELL P. REISNER, RMR, CRR Official Federal Court Reporter U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (334) 235-8218 / TopStenoman@yahoo.com 7 1 2 COURT REPORTER'S CERTIFICATE 3 4 I certify that the foregoing is a correct transcript 5 from the record of proceedings in the above-entitled 6 matter as prepared by me to the best of my ability. 7 8 9 10 I further certify that I am not related to any of the parties hereto, nor their counsel, and I have no interest in the outcome of said cause. 11 12 Dated this 10th day of February 2011. 13 14 15 16 /S/ Mitchell P. Reisner Official Court Reporter Registered Merit Reporter Certified Realtime Reporter 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 MITCHELL P. REISNER, RMR, CRR Official Federal Court Reporter U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama (334) 235-8218 / TopStenoman@yahoo.com