Coble v. City of White House

634 F.3d 865 (6th Cir. 2011)



There is nothing in the Scott analysis that suggests that it should be restricted to cases involving videotapes. The Scott opinion does not focus on the characteristics of a videotape, but on "the record." Although the court has not had occasion to apply the Scott analysis to audio recordings, courts routinely look to Scott for guidance in determining whether the non-moving party's version of the events is so blatantly contradicted by objective evidence in the record that it fails to create a genuine issue of material fact for trial, even in the absence of a videotape. 


Plaintiff arrestee sued defendants, a city and an officer, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, alleging excessive force. The arrestee argued with the officer outside the arrestee's home and failed to obey the officer's command to stop. The officer performed a take-down maneuver, during which the arrestee sustained an open fracture of his right ankle. The arrestee alleged that, after he was handcuffed, the officer walked him 7 or 8 steps on his broken ankle and dropped him face-first on the concrete. The officer testified that, after 3 or 4 steps, the arrestee said his leg was broken and the officer immediately sat him down. The district court found that an audio recording blatantly contradicted the arrestee's testimony that he screamed during the first few steps while he was being escorted. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants. On appeal, the court reversed and remanded for furthe prooceedings.


Did the trial court err in granting summary judgment?




The appellate court determined that summary judgment was inappropriate as to the excessive force claim against the officer because the arrestee's testimony was not "blatantly contradicted" by the lack of corroborating sound on the audio recording since the lack of sound on the audio recording could not be reliably used to discount his testimony, and the recording did not indicate when the officer became aware of the broken ankle or how far the officer made him walk after he became aware of the injury.

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