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Usandivaras v. Eggleston

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

June 14, 2019

EGGLESTON et al, Defendant.


          Marsha J. Pechman United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. No. 21.) Having reviewed the Motion, the Response (Dkt. No. 27), the Reply (Dkt. No. 29), and all related papers, and having considered the statements of the parties at oral argument, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion.


         Plaintiff Javier Usandivaras owns several exotic sportscars that he regularly drives through his residential neighborhood of Kirkland, Washington. (Dkt. No. 23, Declaration of Jeremy W. Culumber (“Culumber Decl.”), Ex. 1 at 6:9-11, 8:3-11:24.) On September 10, 2017, while Plaintiff was driving one of these cars down a local street, a neighbor, Robert Waggoner, threw a newspaper in front of Plaintiff's car because he was upset about Plaintiff's driving. (Culumber Decl. Ex. 1 at 39:12-22, 43:3-16.)

         Several days later, on September 14, 2017, while Plaintiff was driving his Lamborghini through the same neighborhood, Plaintiff heard Mr. Waggoner yell “stop it!” (Id. at 51:22-24.) Plaintiff stopped in the middle of the street and pulled his loaded pistol out of his glove compartment. (Id. at 51:17-18; Ex. 5.) Mr. Waggoner approached Plaintiff's window and after briefly arguing with Plaintiff, looked down and asked, “are you waiving a gun at me?” Plaintiff replied, “Yes.” (Id. Ex. 4b at 00:01; Ex. 1 at 57:11-20.)

         While Plaintiff drove home, Mr. Waggoner called the police, describing the argument and telling the officer that a man in a powder blue Lamborghini had “pointed [a gun] at him, ” although he later clarified that “the firearm was not pointed directly at him, but appeared to be at the ready.” (Dkt. No. 28, Declaration of Harry Williams (“Williams Decl.”), Ex. 6 at 2.) Kirkland Police Officer Everett West went to speak with Mr. Waggoner while other units drove to Plaintiff's address. (Id.) After taking Mr. Waggoner's statement, Officer West radioed the officers at Plaintiff's house that there was probable cause to arrest Plaintiff “for brandishing, ” a violation of RCW 9.41.270 and a gross misdemeanor. (Culumber Decl. Ex. 6 at 16:06:19.)

         Over the next twenty minutes, Officers Garrett Lowell, Patrick Spak, Kyle Burbridge, and Sergeant Gary Eggleston joined Officer Brian Farman at Plaintiff's house. (Id. at 15:55:46-16:14:02). Sergeant Eggleston had Officer Lowell wait across the street to provide cover as the others waited in Plaintiff's driveway. (Culumber Decl. Ex. 15 at 2.)

         When Plaintiff got home he called the police station and was patched through to Officer West, who ordered Plaintiff to walk outside “with his hands in the air and visible.” (Williams Decl. Ex. 6 at 2.) Plaintiff claims that Officer West also told him to bring his driver's license and concealed pistol license; Sargent Eggleston, on the other hand, claims he told Officer West to instruct Plaintiff to “come outside with his hands empty.” (Id. at 3; Ex. 1 at 69:10-14; Culumber Decl. Ex. 15 at 2.) After Officer West spoke with Plaintiff, he radioed the officers who were waiting outside his house, “SUBJ SHOULD BE COMING OUT W/ HANDS UP AND NO WEAPONS.” (Id. at 16:31:55.) Plaintiff walked out of his house holding a black wallet in his right hand. (Culumber Decl. Ex. 1 at 68:20-23; Id. Ex. 15 at 2.)

         Plaintiff testified that when he came out of his house, four of the officers were pointing their guns at him, three of the four in his driveway and Officer Lowell across the street. (Williams Decl. Ex. 1 at 109:19-24.) By contrast, only Officers Lowell and Farman claim to have had their weapons out, and then only at the “low ready” position, not pointed at Plaintiff. (Culumber Decl. Ex. 21 at 41:15-18, 45:20-22; Ex. 22 at 27:13-25, 28:20-22.)

         Once Plaintiff walked down the steps from his porch, Sergeant Eggleston ordered him to turn around and lie facedown on the ground, where he was handcuffed. (Williams Decl. Ex. 1 at 113:4-16.) Plaintiff “followed the commands he was given” and was cooperative as he lowered himself to the ground without any officer intervention. (Id. Ex. 7 at 20:1-10.) Then, while the officers helped Plaintiff stand, he yelled “‘I am disabled. Be careful with my leg'” but claims the officers ignored him by not working with him “on a more comfortable way to stand [] up.” (Id. at 117:21-22, 118:14-19.) After Plaintiff was handcuffed, the officers searched him and found no weapons. (Culumber Decl. Ex. 15 at 2-3.) His gun was later found in the glove compartment of his Lamborghini. (Id.)

         Plaintiff brought a single claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants Eggleston, Farman, Spak, and Burbridge used excessive force during the arrest, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. (Dkt. No. 19.) Defendants now move the Court for summary judgment.


         I. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The movant bears the initial burden to demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A genuine dispute over a material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 253 (1986). On a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id. at 255. After “a ...

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