United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge
suit arises out of the plaintiff's claims that two police
officers violated Burrell Ramsey-White's constitutional
rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Massachusetts
Civil Rights Act. Specifically, plaintiff, on behalf of the
deceased Ramsey-White, alleges that the officers unreasonably
seized him and used excessive force in violation of the
Fourth Amendment, among other claims. The two officers have
since moved for summary judgment.
August, 2012, defendants Mathew Pieroway
(“Pieroway”) and Joel Resil (“Resil”)
were on duty and in plain clothes with the Boston Police
Department's Anti-Crime Unit when they responded to a
call concerning an African American male with a red t-shirt
peering into parked vehicles in Greenwich Park. Burrell
Ramsey-White (“Ramsey-White”), an African
American male, was driving a Cadillac with tinted windows in
the same area. Although Ramsey-White had not committed any
traffic infractions and did not match the description of the
suspect peering into parked vehicles, Resil ran the
Cadillac's license plate against a law enforcement
database and the officers followed Ramsey-White. Shortly
thereafter, the officers discovered that the owner of the
Cadillac, Jurrell Laronal, had an outstanding default warrant
and pulled over the Cadillac.
officers approached the vehicle from both sides and Pieroway
asked Ramsey-White for his license and registration.
Ramsey-White asked Pieroway why he had been stopped but
Pieroway ignored the question and again asked Ramsey-White
for his license and registration. Ramsey-White provided his
license to Pieroway and again asked why he had been stopped.
Pieroway did not respond or examine Ramsey-White's
license. Eventually, Resil looked at the license and realized
that it did not match the identification of the vehicle owner
but failed to convey that information to Pieroway or
making any effort to determine whether Ramsey-White was the
individual whose name appeared on the warrant, Pieroway
decided to arrest Ramsey-White for “questioning the
officers' orders” and ordered him to get out of the
car. Ramsey-White turned off the engine but did not get out,
again asked what he had done wrong and, at some point,
reached behind the center console towards the floorboards of
the backseat. Without responding to Ramsey-White's
questions, Pieroway pulled on the locked door and then
reached into the car through the open driver's side
window while Resil, who was on the passenger side of the car,
put his hand on his holstered firearm. As Pieroway began to
reach into the car, Ramsey-White started the car, closed the
window and drove away. The officers returned to their car and
pursued Ramsey-White's vehicle.
the Boston Police Department Operations Supervisor instructed
Pieroway and Resil to terminate the pursuit, the officers
ignored the order. Ramsey-White eventually abandoned the car
and fled on foot but he had left his license behind so that
the officers could identify him. Pieroway got out of his car
and gave chase while Resil checked the Cadillac to ensure
that it was parked before joining Pieroway's pursuit of
Ramsey-White. As Pieroway chased Ramsey-White, he yelled
repeatedly for Ramsey-White to stop running, to put his hands
where Pieroway could see them and threatened to shoot
Ramsey-White if he failed to do so. Ramsey-White did not
respond to Pieroway's commands and continued to flee.
Eventually, Pieroway caught up to Ramsey-White with his
weapon drawn. When Ramsey-White turned toward Pieroway, he
shot Ramsey-White in the chest.
Resil approached the scene, he heard the gunshot and Pieroway
shout “don't make me shoot you again”.
Pieroway informed Resil that Ramsey-White had been shot in
the chest and that Ramsey-White's weapon was in a
dumpster nearby. Resil used his radio to report the
officer-involved shooting but did not report
Ramsey-White's injury or request Emergency Medical
Services (EMS). Ramsey-White was handcuffed and patted down
for weapons. After the pat down, Resil told Ramsey-White to
turn over but he was unresponsive.
thereafter, three other Boston police officers arrived on the
scene, called for EMS and began to administer first aid to
Ramsey-White. Ramsey-White was transported to Boston Medical
Center where he was pronounced dead.
2015, Carla Sheffield (“Sheffield” or “the
plaintiff”), as the personal representative of the
estate of Ramsey-White, filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act
(“the MCRA”) against the City of Boston, Mathew
Pieroway, Joel Resil and several unidentified defendants in
Suffolk Superior Court. The City of Boston removed the action
to this Court and filed a motion to dismiss. Shortly
thereafter, plaintiff filed an amended complaint which
alleges 1) battery against Officer Pieroway (Count I), 2)
assault against Officers Pieroway and Resil (Count II), 3)
MCRA violations by Officer Pieroway (Count III), 4) MCRA
violations by Officer Resil (Count IV), 5) federal civil
rights violations by Officer Pieroway (Count V), 6) federal
civil rights violations by Officer Resil (Count VI) and 7)
intentional infliction of emotional distress
(“IIED”) by all defendants (Count IX).
2017, this Court adopted Magistrate Judge Kelley's Report
and Recommendation, which dismissed the claim against the
City of Boston (Count VIII). One year later, defendants
Pieroway and Resil filed separate motions for summary
judgment that are now pending before this Court.
role of summary judgment is to assess the proof in order to
see whether there is a genuine need for trial. Mesnick v.
Gen. Elec. Co., 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st Cir. 1991). The
burden is on the moving party to show, through the pleadings,
discovery and affidavits, that there is “no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law”. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(a). A fact is material if it “might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law”.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists where the
evidence with respect to the material fact in dispute
“is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict
for the nonmoving party”. Id.
moving party has satisfied its burden, the burden shifts to
the nonmoving party to set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine, triable issue. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The Court must view
the entire record in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and indulge all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor. O'Connor v. Steeves, 994 F.2d
905, 907 (1st Cir. 1993). Summary judgment is appropriate if,
after viewing the record in the nonmoving party's favor,
the Court determines that no genuine issue of material fact
exists and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23.
Resil's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No.
moves to dismiss all claims against him, specifically the
claims of 1) assault (Count II), 2) MCRA violations (Count
IV), 3) federal civil rights violations (Count VI) and 4)
intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count IX).
Federal Constitutional Claims (Count VI)
amended complaint, plaintiff alleges that Resil violated
Ramsey-White's federal constitutional rights by 1)
seizing Ramsey-White in violation of the Fourth Amendment, 2)
denying Ramsey-White medical treatment in violation of the
Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, 3) using excessive force
against Ramsey-White in violation of the Fourth Amendment and
4) subjecting him to unequal treatment in violation of the
Seizure, Exit Order and Pursuit
argues that the seizure and pursuit claims should be
dismissed because this Court already found the actions of the
officers to be constitutional when it dismissed the City of
Boston as a party to this suit. See Docket No. 67.
This Court agrees with the analysis set forth in the Report
and Recommendation issued by Magistrate Judge Kelley, which
found that the officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment
with respect to the initial stop of the car (“the
seizure”), the exit order or the pursuit. See
Docket No. 62; Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106,
111 (1977) (holding that officers may order a driver or
passenger out of vehicle that has been lawfully stopped for a
traffic violation absent reasonable suspicion); Cty. of
Sacramento v. Lewis, 523 U.S. 833, 844 (1998) (holding
that the Fourth Amendment only covers “searches”
and “seizures” and that a police pursuit in
attempting to seize a person does not amount to a
“seizure” within the meaning of the Fourth
Resil's motion for summary judgment as to the federal
constitutional claims stemming from the initial seizure, exit
order and pursuit will be allowed.
has since conceded her claim that Resil failed to provide
medical care to Ramsey-White when he was injured while
apprehended by police. Accordingly, summary judgment with
respect to the failure to provide medical care in violation
of the Due Process Clause will be allowed.
alleges that Resil is liable for Pieroway's excessive
force under a joint venture theory of liability because Resil
1) remained silent about the officers' misidentification
of Ramsey-White throughout the course of the initial stop up
until the shooting and 2) encouraged Pieroway to continue
following Ramsey-White during the pursuit. In effect,
plaintiff argues that but-for ...