Submitted: May 15, 2018
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
SHEPHERD, MELLOY, and GRASZ, Circuit Judges.
SHEPHERD, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
for her safety, Catrina Johnson called the police. One of the
officers responding to the scene believed that Johnson kicked
him. She had not, but Johnson was arrested based on that
officer's belief. Charges against Johnson were eventually
dropped and the officer now admits that Johnson did not kick
him. Johnson sued the officer and the City of Minneapolis.
The district court held that the arrest violated
Johnson's clearly established constitutional rights. In
addition, it held that Johnson's state-law claims
stemming from the arrest could proceed to trial. We agree and
denial of immunity is appealed, "[o]ur jurisdiction
extends only to abstract issues of law." Thompson v.
City of Monticello, No. 16-4080, 2018 WL 3322315, at *2
(8th Cir. July 6, 2018) (internal quotation marks omitted);
see also Div. of Empl't Sec. v. Bd. of Police
Comm'rs, 864 F.3d 974, 978 (8th Cir. 2017)
(state-law immunity appeal "limited to issues of
law"). "Thus, we must accept the summary judgment
facts as described by the district court because evidentiary
determinations are not presently appealable."
Craighead v. Lee, 399 F.3d 954, 960 (8th Cir.
these principles in mind, we turn to the facts of this case.
called 911 in July 2013 because her 17-year old son, Jareese,
was acting violently. Two officers-Officers Buck and
Heiple-responded to the call. Prior to the officers arriving,
a neighbor, Mark Moriarty, entered Johnson's apartment
after hearing a dispute. (Moriarty was present throughout the
course of events, according to the district court.) When
officers arrived, Johnson let them into her apartment
building. She was clutching a hammer as a means of protecting
herself from Jareese. She accompanied the officers down the
hallway to her apartment, which is where the officers first
encountered Jareese. The officers then proceeded to question
Jareese and Johnson separately. During this time, Johnson
informed Officer Buck (who was questioning her) that
"Jareese threatened [her] and [she] wanted Jareese
removed from the home."
Buck then moved to arrest Jareese, who was located just
outside of Johnson's apartment in the hallway. Jareese
resisted, so Officer Buck and Officer Heiple engaged in a
take down of Jareese. When Jareese was brought to the floor,
Officer Heiple was facing away from the Johnson's
apartment while Officer Buck was facing towards it. And, as
the district court recounts, "Johnson had retreated
further into her apartment to give the [o]fficers room."
to the district court, "[a]fter the 'take down,'
Officer Heiple felt a sharp pain like an 'explosion'
in his right calf." He checked with Officer Buck to
ensure that Jareese was "handcuffed and secured"
before turning around and asking Johnson if she had kicked
him. She said no. Officer Heiple again asked the question,
and, again, Johnson said no. But this was to no avail.
Although Officer Heiple had not seen Johnson kick him-nor had
he seen if she was in a position to even reach him, given
that she had fallen back into the apartment-he assumed she
had. And Officer Heiple arrested Johnson immediately after
her second denial that she had kicked him.
eyewitness was present during the takedown of Jareese. That
eyewitness, Moriarty, confronted Officer Heiple after he
arrested Johnson. Moriarty asked Officer Heiple twice if he
was sure Johnson had kicked him, telling him "[i]t
doesn't seem to make sense that she could have." D.
Ct. Op. at 5 (internal quotation marks omitted). Officer
Heiple said he was sure because "[i]t"-meaning his
calf-"hurts." Id. (internal quotation
marks omitted). Part of Moriarty's disbelief stemmed from
the relative positions of Johnson and Officer Heiple. In his
view, Johnson "would have had to give some powerful kind
of soccer kick . . . around [Officer Heiple] to kick his
other side." Id. (first alteration in the
original). His disbelief was also fueled by the fact that
Johnson could not inflict pain on the level Officer Heiple
felt because "Johnson's shoes were" something
akin to "'soft slipper[s].'" Id.
(alteration in original). Officer Buck, who was facing
Johnson at the time of Jareese's takedown, later
testified that he never saw Johnson kick Officer Heiple
because he was "focused on placing Jareese in
Officer Heiple and Johnson were hospitalized after the
arrest. Officer Heiple later learned he had a "rupture
or sprain of his gastrocnemius muscle" which caused his
pain. He now concedes Johnson did not kick him. Johnson spent
four hours in the emergency room and then three days in jail
before being released. Her arrest and subsequent imprisonment
were the basis for an eight-count district court complaint
against the City of Minneapolis and Officer Heiple in his
individual capacity. At issue on this appeal are Counts IV
through VIII of that complaint. Count IV alleges, under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, unreasonable seizure in violation of the
Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Counts V and VII allege
Minnesota state-law claims for false arrest and false
imprisonment against Officer Heiple, while Counts VI and VIII
lodge parallel claims against Minneapolis.
Heiple and Minneapolis ("appellees") moved for
partial summary judgment on Counts IV through VIII before the
district court. The district court denied the motion in full.
Specifically, the district court declined to dismiss Count IV
on the basis of qualified immunity and denied dismissal of
Count V-VIII because of official immunity-a Minnesota state
and Office Heiple now appeal.
first turn to the question of qualified immunity. We review
de novo "(1) whether . . . the conduct of [Officer
Heiple] violated a constitutional right, and (2) whether that
constitutional right was clearly established at the time of
the incident such that a reasonable officer would have known
his or her actions were unlawful." Ne ...