United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
November 7, 2017
from the United States District Court for the District of
Columbia (No. 1:15-cv-01228) Joseph A. Scrofano argued the
cause and filed the briefs for appellant.
J. Schifferle, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the
Attorney General for the District of Columbia, argued the
cause for appellees.
him on the brief were Karl A. Racine, Attorney General, Todd
S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Loren L. AliKhan, Deputy
Before: Kavanaugh, Srinivasan, and Pillard, Circuit Judges.
SRINIVASAN CIRCUIT JUDGE
Circuit Judge: Jonathan Hedgpeth brought a civil
suit against two police officers, alleging that they violated
his Fourth Amendment rights by arresting him without probable
cause and using excessive force to subdue him. The officers
moved for summary judgment, arguing that they were protected
by qualified immunity from Hedgpeth's claims. The
district court granted summary judgment in favor of the
officers, and we affirm.
purposes of reviewing the court's grant of summary
judgment against Hedgpeth, we view the facts giving rise to
his arrest in the light most favorable to him. Johnson v.
District of Columbia, 528 F.3d 969, 973 (D.C. Cir.
2008). As we explain below, however, we resolve one factual
dispute against Hedgpeth (concerning whether one of the
officers intended to injure Hedgpeth) based on the absence of
evidentiary support for Hedgpeth's account. Hedgpeth does
not himself recall the events surrounding his arrest, but
introduced the testimony of Marcus Lee, a witness to the
evening of March 2, 2015, two officers of the Washington,
D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, Ammar Rahim and Matthew
Rider, were coordinating medical assistance for a homeless
man when a disturbance down the street caught their
attention. The officers observed Hedgpeth push a tall,
African-American man, who returned the push, as the pair
walked towards the officers. According to the officers, the
man pushed by Hedgpeth approached them and said he did not
know Hedgpeth and asked whether they had seen Hedgpeth push
time later, the officers approached Hedgpeth outside a bar.
At the time, Hedgpeth was conversing with a former colleague,
the aforementioned Marcus Lee. The officers explained that
they had received reports of someone going up and down the
street hitting others. Initially, Lee attempted to explain
that he and Hedgpeth had greeted each other with a benign
"buddy punch," but Lee quickly realized the
officers were investigating something that had happened
before his arrival. (Although there is a dispute between the
parties on whether Lee was the tall, African-American man
whom the officers had previously seen Hedgpeth push-Hedgpeth
says yes, the officers say no-we have no need to resolve that
dispute, as explained below.)
officers began to question Hedgpeth, with little success.
Officer Rider asked Hedgpeth for his name and inquired
whether he had been drinking, but Hedgpeth did not respond.
When Hedgpeth did speak, he slurred his words and avoided
answering any questions. Officer Rider then asked Hedgpeth
for identification, which he reluctantly surrendered. When
Officer Rider attempted to photograph the identification
card, Hedgpeth continued to speak incoherently and swore at
the officers. At some point, the officers asked Lee if he
would be willing to take Hedgpeth home. Lee responded that
Hedgpeth was "hard to handle." J.A. 69-70.
warning Hedgpeth several times to calm down, Officer Rahim
told him he was under arrest. Hedgpeth began to scream,
shouting that he had done nothing wrong and demanding to be
let go. Officer Rahim ordered Hedgpeth to put his arms behind
his back, but Hedgpeth did not comply. After Officer Rahim
repeated his order multiple times, he reached for
Hedgpeth's left arm. Officer Rahim also used his knee to
push the back of Hedgpeth's leg and take him down to the
ground. As Hedgpeth fell, his head struck the grid of the
paned window of the bar.
Hedgpeth on the ground, Officer Rider grabbed his arm and the
officers handcuffed him. As a result of his head hitting the
window, Hedgpeth suffered a concussion, headaches, vertigo,
and other ...