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Hanson v. Best

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 8, 2019

Cheri Marie Hanson, as trustee for the next of kin of Andrew Derek Layton Plaintiff- Appellee
Daniel Best; Audrey Burgess; Craig Frericks; Kyley Groby; Matthew Huettl; Kenneth Baker, individually and acting in their official capacities as City of Mankato Department of Public Safety Police Officers Defendants - AppellantsGold Cross Ambulance; Michael Jason Burt; Thomas John Drews Defendant's,

          Submitted: November 14, 2018

          Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis

          Before COLLOTON, SHEPHERD, and STRAS, Circuit Judges.


          Appellee brought an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Appellants, police officers with the Mankato Department of Public Safety, in their individual capacities, alleging the officers used excessive force and exhibited deliberate indifference to medical needs in an incident that led to the death of her son. Appellants appeal the district court's denial of their motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. We find that the officers' use of force did not violate clearly established law nor did their actions on the scene exhibit deliberate indifference to medical needs. Having jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine, [1] we reverse.


         Early in the morning of January 1, 2013, dispatch summoned Mankato police officer Daniel Best to a Hy-Vee grocery store to check on a man sleeping in the foyer. At 4:45 a.m., Best found Andrew Layton sleeping on the floor in the fetal position with a jacket pulled over his head. Best assumed Layton was intoxicated and attempted to wake him by tapping him with his hand. Layton awoke and responded aggressively. Best forced Layton to the ground using a foot sweep and held him down on his stomach as Layton began making loud groaning and growling noises. Best called for assistance. As Best ordered Layton to put his hands behind his back, Layton continued to yell incoherently, thrash his arms, kick his legs, and twist away. Private citizens at the Hy-Vee helped Best hold Layton down until other Mankato officers arrived at 4:47 a.m.

         Seeing Best's struggle, Officer Kenneth Baker used knee strikes on Layton's shoulder and knelt on Layton's back. Officer Matthew Huettl grabbed one of Layton's arms to prevent him from pushing himself up. Baker struck Layton's right arm up to six times with a closed fist. Officer Kyley Groby held down Layton's legs and lower back as the other officers tried to handcuff Layton. Groby held Layton's head down in an unsuccessful attempt to make Layton stop resisting.

         Officer Audrey Burgess arrived to see four officers struggling with Layton. She deployed her taser twice in drive-stun mode against Layton's thigh. Finally, officers handcuffed Layton with two sets of cuffs. He continued to kick, injuring Best and Burgess. Officers applied a hobble restraint, connecting leg restraints to Layton's handcuffs, and Layton began rolling side-to-side while restrained in a prone position. When Layton began spitting at the officers, they used a spit mask. Best commented that he believed Layton was "methed out." Commander Craig Frericks, who arrived during the struggle, thought similarly and requested that Layton be transported to the jail by ambulance because using the squad car would require removal of Layton's restraints. Frericks also feared that Layton could asphyxiate.

         To prevent Layton from harming himself before the ambulance arrived, Baker and Huettl remained beside him as he continued to intermittently struggle against his restraints and make loud noises. Layton would have brief moments of calm followed by continued resistance that Huettl described as "tensing his muscle[s], yelling and groaning, pushing his body to the point of exhaustion, rocking his head back and forth, and violently flexing and shaking." Officers determined that keeping Layton in a prone position was best given his continued resistance, and Baker pressed Layton's shoulders to the ground while Groby held Layton's thighs.

         Paramedics Michael Burt and Thomas Drews arrived with an ambulance at 5:05 a.m. Having recognized Layton's name after checking his identification, Baker told the paramedics that Layton was known to abuse methamphetamine and alcohol; other officers stated Layton's reaction was consistent with his behavior in prior police interactions. Burt and Drews assessed Layton's breathing, airway circulation, and heart rate. Concluding that Layton did not require emergency medical treatment, Burt and Drews determined he could be safely transported to jail. Baker, Huettl, Groby, and Frericks lifted Layton onto a cot and unhooked his leg restraints from his handcuffs. Burt and Drews attempted to place Layton on his side, but because he rolled back to his stomach, they placed a pillow under his shoulder and turned his head to prevent him from lying flat. Baker knelt on Layton's shoulder to apply a wrist restraint then let the paramedics position the other straps over Layton.

         Best and Baker rode in the ambulance with Layton, who continued to struggle on the cot. To prevent Layton from falling off, Baker held Layton's shoulder to the cot while Burt monitored Layton's pulse and breathing. Layton did not stop moving until he entered the jail's sally port. When they moved Layton into the booking area of the jail, officers discovered Layton was in cardiac arrest. They removed his restraints, initiated CPR, and applied a defibrillator. While they restored a cardiac rhythm and brought Layton to a hospital, Layton never regained consciousness. He died on January 5, 2013. His autopsy determined Layton suffered from pneumonia due to probable excited delirium, atherosclerotic heart disease, and liver disease. His body had multiple abrasions and contusions; there was bleeding between his skull and scalp and in his neck. He tested positive for amphetamine and alcohol.

         Appellee Cheri Marie Hanson, Layton's mother, [2] sued Best, Burgess, Frericks, Groby, Huettl, and Baker in their individual capacities under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for using excessive force after restraining Layton in violation of the Fourth Amendment and for exhibiting deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The officers ...

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