United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER RULING ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTIONS
SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR. United States District Judge.
26, 2015, Officers contacted Plaintiff Tyler Lankford at his
hotel room in the Quality Inn to take him into protective
custody and deliver him to a mental health crisis
stabilization center. After speaking to negotiators for
approximately an hour, Lankford surrendered himself in the
hotel hallway and was immediately placed in handcuffs and
removed from the scene. SWAT officers then conducted a brief,
visual search of Lankford's hotel room.
asserts that the “sweep” of his hotel room
violated state law and his Fourth Amendment rights. He
alleges Fourth Amendment claims against SWAT Officers Mike
Petlovany and Justin DeRosier under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as
well as state law claims for trespassing, conversion, and
false arrest and imprisonment. Lankford also asserts these
claims against Washington State and Whitman County under a
theory of respondeat superior liability.
Petlovany and Washington State move for summary judgment on
Lankford's § 1983 and state law claims, ECF No. 53.
Defendants DeRosier and Whitman County move for summary
judgment on the same issues. ECF No. 49. Lankford filed a
motion for partial summary judgment as to Defendant
DeRosier's and Whitman County's liability on the
§ 1983 claims, ECF No. 53, and filed a substantially
identical motion as to Defendant Petlovany and Washington
State, ECF No. 126. Because all four motions involve the same
basic issues, this Order addresses the motions together.
Petlovany is a police officer at Washington State University.
He has also been a member of the joint Whitman County
Regional SWAT team since 2011. Deputy DeRosier is a deputy
with the Whitman County Sherriff's Office and a member of
the SWAT team. Both Officer Petlovany and Deputy DeRosier
responded to the SWAT call-out to the Quality Inn on July 26,
Officer Petlovany and Deputy DeRosier arrived on the scene,
they were advised that the call was for felony harassment and
a welfare check. The computer aided dispatch (CAD) record
available to officers indicated that Lankford was heavily
armed, had mental disorders, had been making graphic threats,
and was paranoid.
contacting Lankford, the SWAT team cleared all patrons and
hotel employees from the rooms and area around Lankford's
room and set up a safety perimeter. Negotiators then spoke
with Lankford to convince him to come out of the hotel room.
Negotiators asked Lankford whether he had explosives or
weapons. He responded that he had no explosives, but would
not comment on whether he had weapons. After some time,
negotiators convinced Mr. Lankford to come out into the hall.
Lankford entered the hallway, he was placed in handcuffs and
removed from the scene. Incident to Lankford being placed
into custody, the SWAT team was directed to conduct a
protective sweep of Lankford's hotel room. Officer
Petlovany and Deputy DeRosier assumed their positions in a
safety formation including several other SWAT officers and
advanced towards the hotel room door. When Officer Petlovany
and Deputy DeRosier reached the hotel room door, it was
already open. Officer Petlovany and Deputy DeRosier entered
the room and looked for any persons in the room and any
weapons or other safety hazards. Officer Petlovany and Deputy
DeRosier did not touch anything in the room and were in the
room for a matter of seconds. Officer Petlovany and Deputy
DeRosier did not know if the search was with or without
judgment is appropriate if the “movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Once a party has moved for summary
judgment, the opposing party must point to specific facts
establishing that there is a genuine dispute for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986).
If the nonmoving party fails to make such a showing for any
of the elements essential to its case for which it bears the
burden of proof, the trial court should grant the summary
judgment motion. Id. at 322. “When the moving
party has carried its burden under Rule [56(a)], its opponent
must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts. . . . [T]he nonmoving party
must come forward with ‘specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986) (internal citation omitted). When
considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court does not
weigh the evidence or assess credibility; instead, “the
evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all
justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
Officer Petlovany and Deputy DeRosier were members of the
SWAT team that conducted the initial search of Lankford's
hotel room after he was taken into protective custody.
Lankford asserts both Fourth Amendment claims under §
1983 and state law claims against the officers. These claims
are addressed in turn below.
The “sweep” of Lankford's hotel room violated