United States District Court, District of Columbia
G. Sullivan United States District Judge
Wood brings this action against the District of Columbia and
Metropolitan Police Department officers Charles Kiel,
Charandip Sekhon, Andrew Smith, Michael Rodd, Jonathan
Rosnick, Daniel Chodak, Jason Bagshaw, and Alicia Carter. His
claims arise from an altercation he had with several of the
defendant officers that occurred in the front yard of his
home the evening of October 27, 2013 and from his subsequent
prosecution on charges of assault on a police officer
(“APO”). His complaint alleges various common law
tort claims, including assault, false arrest, abuse of
process, malicious prosecution, and negligent training and
supervision, and that the officers violated federal law under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 when they falsely arrested him, used
excessive force against him, maliciously prosecuted him, and
prosecuted him based on false evidence. Pending before the
Court is defendants' motion for summary judgment. Upon
review of defendants' motion, the response and reply
thereto, the parties' supplemental filings, the
applicable law, and the entire record, defendants' motion
for summary judgment is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
8:00 p.m. on the evening of October 27, 2013, Officers
Charles Kiel, Andrew Smith, Charandip Sekhon, Michael Rodd,
and Jonathan Rosnick were in a 7-Eleven convenience store on
South Dakota Avenue in Northeast Washington, D.C. when a
woman entered the store and alerted them that a taxi cab
driver was being assaulted and robbed on nearby Jamaica
Street. Defs.' Statement of Material Facts
(“Defs.' SMF”), ECF No. 43 ¶ 1;
Deposition of Charles Kiel (“Kiel Dep.”), ECF No.
43-4 at 8:14-18; Deposition of Charandip Sekhon
(“Sekhon Dep.”), ECF No. 43-7 at 10:1-8;
Deposition of David Wood (“Wood Dep.”), ECF No.
43-9 at 22:7-9. The officers immediately reported to Jamaica
Street, saw a taxi cab parked in the road with its door open,
and then saw a person--whose face was bloodied--on the street
calling for help. Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 43 ¶¶ 2,
10. That person was the cab's driver, Minwiylte Gebyehu,
who had been attacked and robbed by his passenger and a
second assailant who entered the cab on Jamaica Street after
the passenger had instructed Mr. Gebyehu to stop the cab on
that street. Id. ¶ 41; Gebyehu Aff., ECF No.
45-8 at 1-2.
Gebyehu communicated to the officers that two persons had
attacked him. Kiel Dep., ECF No. 43-4 at 12:6-8. But the
record is not clear as to what exactly Mr. Gebyehu
communicated to the officers regarding where the two
assailants fled. According to the officers, Mr. Gebyehu, when
asked where his assailants fled, pointed to a specific house
located at 1214 Jamaica Street--the house in which Mr. Wood
lived with his mother and from which he was soon to emerge.
Kiel Dep., ECF No. 43-4 at 11:1-3, 12:6-8; Deposition of
Michael Rodd (“Rodd Dep.”), ECF No. 43-5 at
11:2-4; Deposition of Jonathan Rosnick (“Rosnick
Dep.”), ECF No. 43-6 at 13:1-3, 15:10-12; Sekhon Dep.,
ECF No. 43-7 at 12:11-17; Deposition of Andrew Smith
(“Smith Dep.”), ECF No. 43-8 at 13:17-22.
Additionally, in an affidavit provided to the Court by Mr.
Wood, Mr. Gebyehu affirmed that he showed the officers who
arrived on the scene the house that his assailant-passenger
had indicated was his house on Jamaica Street. Gebyehu Aff.,
ECF No. 45-8 at 3. But Mr. Gebyehu's testimony from Mr.
Wood's criminal trial is in tension with this evidence.
At one point during his testimony, Mr. Gebyehu said that he
did not see where his assailants fled and that he told the
officers as much when they asked him where his assailants had
gone. Aug. 1, 2014 Criminal Trial Tr., ECF No. 45-3 at 19:2-
10. However, at another point during his testimony, Mr.
Gebyehu seems to have said that he did point out a specific
house to the officers: the house in front of which he had
parked his cab. Id. at 29:1-15. Mr. Wood contends
that if Mr. Gebyehu did identify a specific house
for the officers, the house identified could not have been
his at 1214 Jamaica Street, as the cab was not parked in
front of his house. Pl.'s Opp. to Defs.' Mot. for
Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Opp.”), ECF No. 45 at 10
n.2. The officers' testimony as to the location of the
cab in relation to 1214 Jamaica Street is inconsistent.
Compare Kiel Dep., ECF No. 43-4 at 11:12-14
(“Q: Where was his cab in relation to the [1214 Jamaica
Street] house? A: About two to three doors down, closer to
Eastern Avenue.”), with Rosnick Dep., ECF No.
43-6 at 14:21-15:6 (“Q: So how did it come about that
you were almost in front of the [1214 Jamaica Street] home?
A: We were, again, we were walking from Eastern back towards
the scene of the event where the cab was. . . . And [Mr.
Gebyehu] had indicated that the two men that had assaulted
him had ran into that home, and pointed towards it.”).
directional information Mr. Gebyehu actually conveyed to the
officers, Officers Kiel, Sekhon, and Smith ended up walking
towards Mr. Wood's house at 1214 Jamaica Street, while
Officers Rodd and Rosnick remained in the street with Mr.
Gebyehu. Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 43 ¶ 4; Rosnick Dep.,
ECF No. 43-6 at 19:6-8, 22:16-18. Inside the living room of
the house, Mr. Wood, who had “had a few drinks, ”
Wood Dep., ECF No. 43-9 at 22:2-3, was on the telephone when
he saw a red streak reflect on his television screen.
Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 43 ¶ 33; Wood Dep., ECF No. 43-9
at 13:8-10. Thinking that the flashing red light could have
been from an emergency vehicle arriving for a beloved elderly
neighbor, Mr. Wood--after jumping up and unsuccessfully
attempting to reach his neighbor by telephone--exited the
house, heading to his neighbor's house to check on her.
Wood Dep., ECF No. 43-9 at 17:1-3, 19:8-9, 20:7-22; Pl.'s
Answers to Defs.' Interrogs., ECF No. 45-10 at 9.
Mr. Wood exited his house he was clad in just his underwear
and a tee shirt and was “worried” and
“panicking.” Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 43 ¶
15; Wood Dep., ECF No. 43-9 at 13:18-14:1, 19:4-6; Sekhon
Dep, ECF No. 43-7 at 18:5. Officer Rosnick observed that Mr.
Wood had “an agitated character and expression, ”
Rosnick Dep., ECF No. 43-6 at 25:6-7, and Officer Kiel
observed that Mr. Wood “had a very confused
something-was-wrong-with-him look in his eyes” and
“appeared to be under the influence of some kind of
substance.” Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 43 ¶ 17; Kiel
Dep., ECF No. 43-4 at 15:7-8, 17:18-19. Officer Kiel
identified himself as a police officer and told Mr. Wood that
he needed to stop and speak with the officers in view of the
assault and robbery that had just occurred nearby, Kiel Dep.,
ECF No. 43-4 at 15:16-20, 16:20-17:10; Sekhon Dep., ECF No.
43-7 at 18:14-19:8; Smith Dep., ECF No. 43-8 at 19:10-20,
but, according to the officers, Mr. Wood refused to stop and
speak with them. Kiel Dep., ECF No. 43-4 at 17:3-4, 18:15;
Sekhon Dep., ECF No. 43-7 at 25:7-26:18; Smith Dep., ECF No.
43-8 at 19:16-20:4. Mr. Wood maintains that at this
point--prior to Officer Kiel grabbing him and handcuffing one
of his arms--he was unaware of any police presence. Wood
Dep., ECF No. 43-9 at 17:10-17, 21:1-22:1.
Kiel told Mr. Wood that he would have to handcuff him and
proceeded to grab and handcuff one of Mr. Wood's arms.
Kiel Dep., ECF No. 43-4 at 18:15-18, 20:7-8; Rosnick Dep.,
ECF No. 43-6 at 26:17-18; Sekhon Dep., ECF No. 43-7 at
27:3-22; Smith Dep., ECF No. 43-8 at 20:6-7. Now aware of the
officers' presence, Wood Dep., ECF No. 43-9 at 17:10-15,
Mr. Wood contends that, upon being grabbed, he told Officer
Kiel to “stop” and raised his hand to Officer
Kiel to indicate that he should stop grabbing him. Wood Dep.,
ECF No. 43-9 at 17:1-7, 22:18-24:5. According to the
officers, Mr. Wood did not merely raise his hand to indicate
that they should “stop”; rather, he swung at
Officer Kiel right after Officer Kiel had secured one of his
arms in handcuffs. Kiel Dep., ECF No. 43-4 at 21:7-10;
Rosnick Dep., ECF No. 43-6 at 31:2-5; Sekhon Dep., ECF No.
43-7 at 31:7-22; Smith Dep., ECF No. 43-8 at 24:19-21.
Mr. Wood merely raised his hand at Officer Kiel or swung at
him, at about the same time or immediately after Officer
Sekhon commanded Mr. Wood, “On the ground,
motherfucker, ” to which Mr. Wood responded by telling
Officer Sekhon, “Don't try it, Junior.” Wood
Dep., ECF No. 43-9 at 22:21-23:4. Telling Mr. Wood not to
call him “Junior, ” Officer Sekhon then
“ram[med] himself into [Mr. Wood], ” tackling Mr.
Wood with the help of Officers Kiel and Smith. Id.
at 14:9-13, 23:5-10. A melee ensued during which the officers
punched, pulled, stepped on, and kicked Mr. Wood.
Id. at 14:14-20, 23:5-10, 25:8-26:7; Sekhon Dep.,
ECF No. 43-7 at 42:1-22; Smith Dep., ECF No. 43-8 at
28:15-29:21. Soon after the struggle began, Officers Rodd and
Rosnick ran over to assist the three other officers. Rosnick
Dep., ECF No. 43-6 at 33:11-14. Officer Rodd was able to grab
ahold of Mr. Wood's free arm and pull it behind his back
so that it could be handcuffed. Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 43
¶ 9; Rodd Dep., ECF No. 43-5 at 33:14-34:1. Although Mr.
Wood insists that he “[c]ouldn't struggle”
because of the handcuffs, Wood Dep., ECF No. 43-9 at 27:1-2,
he concedes that during the melee he was hitting the officers
while they were hitting him. Wood Dep., ECF No. 43-9 at
26:10-16 (“Q: And while they were hitting you, where
were your hands? A: Well, I was hitting--they were hitting me
at one point, my hands were in front of me. They put them
behind me. They grabbed them, they're pulling it, they
yanked and pulled and then put them in handcuffs.”).
After Mr. Wood was handcuffed and subdued, he contends that
the officers continued to punch, kick, and step on him.
Id. at 15:4-6 (“I was handcuffed and I
remember one of the officers just punching me and punching
me.”), 23:13-15 (“[W]hen I was on the ground they
had me in handcuffs and still were still stepping on me,
punching me.”). The officers maintain that any use of
force ceased once Mr. Wood was fully handcuffed. Kiel Dep.,
ECF No. 43-4 at 35:10-15 (“A: At some point we were
able to handcuff him. Yes. Q: And then what happened? A: We
all immediately got off of him, assessed what the rest of the
situation, and carried on with the investigation.”).
Daniel Chodak arrived on the scene after the melee was in
progress but stayed on the street with Mr. Gebyehu throughout
its duration. Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 43 ¶¶ 24-26.
During a subsequent show-up procedure that occurred after
Sergeants Jason Bagshaw and Alicia Carter arrived on the
scene, Mr. Gebyehu did not identify Mr. Wood as one of his
assailants. Id. ¶¶ 28-31; Deposition of
Jason Bagshaw, ECF No. 43-1 at 15:1-3. Mr. Wood was then
transported from the scene to a police station house and
eventually taken to a hospital to receive medical attention
for atrial fibrillation, an accelerated heart rate,
post-concussive syndrome, and injuries to his head and
shoulder. Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 43 ¶ 39; Pl.'s
Opp., ECF No. 45 at 4.
Wood was subsequently charged with misdemeanor APO but,
following a bench trial on July 31 and August 1, 2014 in the
Superior Court of the District of Columbia, was found not
guilty. Defs.' SMF, ECF No. 43 ¶ 40; Criminal Trial
Docket Sheet, ECF No. 45-9. On October 24, 2014, Mr. Wood
commenced this lawsuit in the Superior Court alleging: (1)
common law assault against all defendants (Counts I and II);
(2) common law false arrest against all defendants (Counts
III and IV); (3) common law abuse of process against all
defendants (Counts V and VI); (4) common law malicious
prosecution against all defendants (Counts VII and VIII); (5)
excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against all individual
officers (Count IX); (6) false arrest in violation of the
Fourth Amendment, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against
all individual officers (Count X); (7) prosecution based on
false evidence in violation of unspecified civil rights,
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against all individual
officers (Count XI); (8) malicious prosecution in violation
of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, against all individual officers (Count XII); and
(9) negligent training and supervision against the District
of Columbia (Count XIII). See Compl., ECF No. 19-1
removed the case to this Court on December 5, 2014.
See Joint Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. The Court
partially granted Officer Chodak's motion to dismiss,
dismissing Counts I, V, IX, and XI as to him. Order, ECF No.
27. On December 23, 2015, defendants filed the motion for
summary judgment that is presently before the Court.
See Defs.' Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 43. In his
brief in opposition, Mr. Wood expressly abandons and requests
the Court to dismiss the following claims: all Counts as to
Officers Bagshaw and Carter, and Counts V, VI, XI, and XIII
in full. Pl.'s Opp., ECF No. 45 at 1 n.1. The Court thus
grants defendants' motion as to those abandoned claims
and has considered the parties' summary judgment
arguments as they pertain to the remaining claims.