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Taylor v. Vangesen

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

October 8, 2019

OMARI TAYLOR, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Jon VanGesen's (“VanGesen”) motion to dismiss, Dkt. 19, and Plaintiff Omari Taylor's (“Taylor”) motion to strike exhibits attached to the motion to dismiss, Dkt. 24. The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motions and the remainder of the file and hereby grants in part and denies in part the motion for judgment on the pleadings and denies the motion to strike as moot for the reasons stated herein.


         On August 20, 2018, Taylor filed a complaint against VanGesen and Defendant Kitsap County (“Kitsap County”). Dkt. 1. Against VanGesen, Taylor alleged deprivation of his right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, deprivation of his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, and deprivation of his right to free speech under the First Amendment, all pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Dkt. 1, ¶¶ 124-26. Against Kitsap County, Taylor alleged a violation of Washington's Criminal Records Privacy Act, RCW Chapter 10.97. Id. ¶ 127. On January 9, 2019, the Court entered the parties' stipulated dismissal of the Washington Criminal Records Privacy Act claim. Dkt. 14.

         On May 24, 2019, VanGesen filed a motion to dismiss. Dkt. 19. On June 26, 2019, Taylor filed a motion to strike exhibits attached to the motion to dismiss. Dkt. 24. On July 1, 2019, Taylor responded to VanGesen's motion. Dkt. 25. On July 5, 2019, VanGesen replied to Taylor's response and responded to Taylor's motion to strike. Dkt. 26.[1]


         The facts relevant to the instant motion are as follows.

         Taylor is an African-American man who resides in King County, Washington. Dkt. 1, ¶ 1. VanGesen is a white man who resides in Kitsap County and who is employed by the Kitsap County Sheriffs Department as a deputy sheriff. Id. ¶ 2; Dkt. 8, ¶ 2.

         Taylor alleges that just before 7 p.m. on September 13, 2015, he was driving northbound on California Avenue Southeast in Port Orchard, Washington on the way to visit a friend. Dkt 1, ¶¶ 9-11, 40. VanGesen, driving an unmarked Sheriffs Office vehicle, passed Taylor going southbound. Id. ¶¶ 9-12. VanGesen looked directly at Taylor as the two cars passed each other. Id.

         In his police report, VanGesen alleged that as he passed Taylor, he observed that the passenger side taillight on Taylor's vehicle was broken and “white light was coming through the lens.” Dkt. 20 at 8; Dkt. 1, ¶ 20. Taylor alleges that while in fact a small piece was missing from the taillight cover, VanGesen could not have observed this as his vehicle passed Taylor's because: (1) the missing piece was sufficiently small that it was only visible from a distance of 20 feet, (2) the cars passed each other travelling approximately 30 to 35 mph such that one second after they passed they would have been 88 feet apart, and (3) Taylor did nothing to activate the taillight as VanGesen passed him (such as brake or signal a turn). Dkt. 1, ¶¶ 21-33.

         VanGesen made a u-turn to follow Taylor. Id. ¶ 33. Taylor turned right from California Avenue Southeast onto East Van Buren Street and parked in the driveway at a friend's home. Id. ¶¶ 36-40. VanGesen stopped behind Taylor's parked car, turned on his emergency lights, and parked his car so that it blocked the driveway. Id. ¶¶ 41-46.

         VanGesen then approached the driver's side of Taylor's vehicle. Id. ¶ 47. While VanGesen's report stated that Taylor “dropped his head, ” Taylor alleges this did not occur. Dkt. 20 at 8; Dkt. 1, ¶¶ 48-49. VanGesen told Taylor he had stopped him because his brake light was broken. Dkt. 1, ¶ 52. At some point, Taylor told VanGesen “we both know this isn't about the brake light, ” to which VanGesen did not respond. Id. ¶¶ 53-54.

         VanGesen asked Taylor “if he lived there.” Id. ¶ 55. When Taylor responded that he did not, VanGesen asked him where he lived. Id. ¶ 55-58. Taylor did not reply because VanGesen was holding Taylor's driver's license which listed his address. Id. VanGesen asked Taylor how long he had been at the address on the license, to which Taylor did not respond, and asked what brought Taylor to Port Orchard as he did not live there. Id. ¶¶ 58-59. Taylor replied that he was visiting someone but did not reply when VanGesen asked him if that person lived in Unit A or Unit B. Id. ¶¶ 59-60.

         VanGesen then ordered Taylor to get out of the car, walk to the back of the car, and take his hands out of his pockets. Id. ¶¶ 61-66. Taylor alleges that he complied with these instructions. Id. VanGesen instructed Taylor to put his hands on the trunk of the car, step back from the vehicle, and spread his feet to be patted down. Id. ¶¶ 67. While VanGesen's report claims that Taylor refused to spread his feet or move his hands along the trunk to be further from his waist, Taylor alleges he complied with VanGesen's request. Dkt. 20 at 8-9, Dkt. 1, ¶¶ 68-70. When VanGesen used his body to force Taylor closer to the trunk of the car, Taylor told VanGesen that his use of force was unwarranted. Dkt. 1, ¶¶ 72. VanGesen then radioed for a second unit. Id. ¶ 72.

         Taylor alleges that VanGesen next shoved Taylor in the chest and put his hand on his gun, to which Taylor “again protested that any use of force was unnecessary.” Id. ¶¶ 74-75. Taylor's friend, who had been observing the interaction from her home, called 911 to report that a law enforcement officer was yelling at her friend, was out of control, and asked the operator to “send someone quick before the situation got out of hand.” Id. ¶¶ 76-77. Taylor's friend came outside and tried to ask VanGesen to leave Taylor alone, but VanGesen instructed her to go back inside. Id. ¶ 80. She complied and began filming the interaction through the front window, which VanGesen observed. Id. ¶¶ 81-83. When Kitsap County deputy sheriff Fred Breed (“Breed”) arrived on the scene, VanGesen arrested Taylor for obstructing an officer, handcuffed Taylor with Breed's assistance, and directed that Taylor be transported to jail. Id. ¶¶ 84-86.

         Breed then interviewed Taylor's friend in her home, who told Breed that Taylor was coming over for dinner. Id. ¶¶ 88-89. When asked, Taylor's friend told Breed that Taylor did not use drugs or have any mental disorders. Id. ¶¶ 90-93. Breed asked the friend to show him the video she had taken of VanGesen and Taylor's interaction and watched part of it. Id. ¶¶ 94-98.

         VanGesen searched Taylor's car and took photographs or directed other officers to take photographs. Id. ¶ 102. Taylor alleges that this was the first time VanGesen discovered that the taillight cover had a small piece missing. Id. VanGesen issued Taylor a citation for operating a motor vehicle with a ...

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