United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Michael D. Brooks, Plaintiff
Investergater Justin Head and Investergater Banister, Defendants.
Harwell United States District Judge
Michael D. Brooks, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, has
sued the two above-named Defendants under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 alleging violations of his constitutional
rights. See ECF No. 1. Defendants have
filed a motion for summary judgment. See ECF No. 95.
The matter is before the Court for review of the Report and
Recommendation ("R & R") of United States
Magistrate Judge Kaymani D. West, made in accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 73.02 for the
District of South Carolina. See R & R, ECF No. 105.
The Magistrate Judge recommends the Court grant
Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismiss this
case. R & R at 10. Plaintiff has filed objections to the R &
R. See Pl.'s Objs., ECF No. 107.
Review of the Magistrate Judge's R & R
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The Magistrate Judge's recommendation has no presumptive
weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination
remains with the Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S.
261, 270-71 (1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review
of those portions of the R & R to which specific objections
are made, and it may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or
in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or
recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
Court must engage in a de novo review of every portion of the
Magistrate Judge's report to which objections have been
filed. Id. However, the Court need not conduct a de
novo review when a party makes only "general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the [C]ourt to a
specific error in the [M]agistrate [Judge]'s proposed
findings and recommendations." Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). In the absence
of specific objections to the R & R, the Court reviews only
for clear error, Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005), and the Court
need not give any explanation for adopting the Magistrate
Judge's recommendation. Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d
198, 199-200 (4th Cir. 1983).
judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material
fact exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Reyazuddin v. Montgomery Cty., Md.,
789 F.3d 407, 413 (4th Cir. 2015); see Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(a) ("The court shall grant summary judgment 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."). "A party asserting that a fact
cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion
by: (A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record
. . .; or (B) showing that the materials cited do not
establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or
that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to
support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The facts and
inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party,
Reyazuddin, 789 F.3d at 413, but the Court
"cannot weigh the evidence or make credibility
determinations." Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the
Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 569 (4th Cir. 2015).
in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the facts are as
follows. On March 3, 2014, a home invasion occurred at a
residence in Florence, South Carolina. ECF No. 95-2 at 3, 10.
Defendant Investigator Justin Head of the Florence Police
Department ("FPD") was assigned to the case,
developed Plaintiff as a suspect, and obtained arrest
warrants for Plaintiff on charges of first-degree burglary,
armed robbery, kidnapping, and two weapon charges.
Id. at 3-5, 18-22. On March 14, 2014, Defendant
Investigator Stephen Banister and other FPD officers went to
Plaintiff's mother's house (where Plaintiff was
staying) to serve the arrest warrants. ECF No. 95-3 at 3.
Plaintiff saw the police arrive, ran out the back door, and
hid in the woods, where there was a small stream eight to
twelve inches deep. ECF No. 1 at 3; ECF No. 95-2 at 6; ECF
No. 95-3 at 4. After about ten minutes in the woods,
Plaintiff decided to exit the woods and began wading through
the stream. ECF No. 1 at 3. Investigator Banister rushed
towards Plaintiff yelling, "Get down!" Id.
Plaintiff got on his hands and knees but did not lie
completely flat because he believed the water would cover his
head. Id. He told Investigator Banister why he could
not lie down, and although Investigator Banister saw the
stream, he nonetheless tased Plaintiff in the back.
Id.; ECF No. 95-3 at 4. Plaintiff went underwater,
and then Investigator Banister dragged him from the water by
his feet, handcuffed him, and escorted him from the woods.
ECF No. 1 at 3; ECF No. 95-3 at 4. In June 2015, Plaintiff
was tried in state court and convicted of all charges. ECF
has sued Investigators Head and Banister (collectively,
"Defendants") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
ECF No. 1. Among the allegations in his complaint, Plaintiff
accuses Investigator Head of lying in arrest warrant
affidavits and altering a statement that Plaintiff gave
police. Id. at 3-5. Plaintiff also alleges that due
to being underwater after Investigator Banister tased him, he
has to see a doctor and take medication for chest pain caused
by the water that entered his lungs. Id. at 3.
Plaintiff asserts causes of action for false arrest, false
imprisonment, and excessive force, and he seeks monetary
damages arising from his allegedly unlawful arrest.
Id. at 6. Defendants have moved for summary judgment
on all of Plaintiff's claims. ECF No. 95. The Magistrate
Judge has issued an R & R in which she recommends granting
Defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissing
this case. ECF No. 105. Plaintiff has filed timely objections
to the R & R. ECF No. 107. Defendants have filed a timely
reply to Plaintiff's objections. ECF No. 109.
presents three cursory objections to the Magistrate
Judge's R & R. See Pl.'s Objs., ECF No. 107.
First, he objects to the Magistrate Judge's statement in
the R & R that "Plaintiff represents that he ran out the
backdoor of his mother's residence after he noticed
police had arrived there." Id. at 1 (quoting R
& R at 2). Although Plaintiff argues he never made that
statement, his own sworn complaint in this case negates that
argument. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges in his complaint
that he "ran out the back door" of his
"mother['s] house" after he saw police
investigators arrive. ECF No. 1 at 3. The Court summarily
overrules Plaintiff's first objection as meritless.
second objection, Plaintiff contends he has proven that he
was arrested without warrants. Pl.'s Objs. at 1.
Plaintiff's contention appears to relate to the
Magistrate Judge's finding that Heck v.
Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), bars Plaintiff's
causes of action for false arrest and false imprisonment.
See R & R at 4-5. The Court agrees with the
Magistrate Judge that Heck bars both claims because
Plaintiff's success on them would necessarily imply the
invalidity of his arrest and subsequent convictions, which
have not been overturned or otherwise called into question.
See Young v. Nickols, 413 F.3d 416, 417 (4th Cir.
2005) ("Heck . . . bars a ...