Howd & Ludorf, LLC Wins Summary Judgment for City of Middletown in Federal Civil Rights Suit

In McKinney v. Middletown, Howd & Ludorf , LLC won summary judgment for the Middletown Police Department in a civil rights claim brought by a man who claimed officers used excessive force when attempting a cell transfer. At the time of the incident alleged, McKinney was in the custody of the Middletown Police Department on charges of robbery, breach of peace and larceny. Prior to the cell transfer, McKinney had been exhibiting self-injurious behavior. In addition, McKinney had obstructed the cell camera on two occasions, thereby preventing the officers from conducting safety checks of his cell. Given his self-injurious behavior and repeated obstruction of the cell camera, the decision was made to transfer McKinney to a padded cell where he could be safely monitored. McKinney refused to voluntarily comply with the cell transfer. Instead, McKinney became hostile, threatened the officers, and physically resisted the officers’ attempts to secure him in handcuffs for the cell transfer. McKinney engaged in an aggressive physical struggle with each attempt to secure his compliance with the cell transfer. At one point during the incident, McKinney grabbed onto an officer’s baton and struggled for control over the same. Consequently, a police canine was directed to engage McKinney’s lower leg in an effort to overcome his struggle for the baton and to bring him to the ground. McKinney, however, continued to physically struggle with officers upon being brought to the ground, necessitating the use of a single taser deployment to end his physical resistance.

Howd & Ludorf, LLC partner Beatrice S. Jordan prepared a Motion for Summary Judgment, and argued that the officers’ actions were incremental and responded directly to McKinney’s combative behavior and active resistance. Attorney Jordan further argued that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity as the law was not clearly established that the combination of force utilized by them in the face of McKinney’s undisputed active resistance was unconstitutional under the circumstances presented. U.S. District Judge Alfred Covello agreed and entered summary judgment for the defendants.