United States District Court, D. New Mexico
GARY J. MARTINEZ Plaintiff,
JASON C. BROWN, individually and in his official capacity with the Albuquerque Police Department; CITY OF ALBUQUERQUE, a municipal entity organized under the laws of the STATE OF NEW MEXICO, and its Subsidiary, the ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CHRISTINA ARMIJO Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Defendants' Motion
[for] Summary Judgment Based on Qualified Immunity,
filed August 29, 2016. [Doc. 37] This Court has considered
the Motion, the briefs, the relevant law, and is
otherwise fully informed. For the reasons that follow, the
Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion.
following facts are undisputed. The events underlying this
lawsuit were precipitated by a report to the Albuquerque
Police Department that Plaintiff had crashed his vehicle into
the center median at an intersection. [Doc. 37 ¶¶
1-2; Ex. C.] Albuquerque Police Officer Jerry Arnold was the
first officer to arrive on the scene. [Doc. 37 ¶ 1; Ex.
A-1] Officer Arnold found Plaintiff sitting in the
driver's seat of his vehicle with the door open. [Doc. 37
¶¶ 1-3; Doc. 37-1 ¶¶ 5-6] When Officer
Arnold asked Plaintiff how much he had been drinking,
Plaintiff replied “not much.” [Doc. 37 ¶ 4;
Ex. A-1] Later, Plaintiff told the officer that he had not
been drinking and later still, he told the officer that the
last time he had a drink was in the afternoon. [Id.]
Plaintiff's answers to Officer Arnold's other
questions were given in slurred speech, and were
uncertain-for example Plaintiff said that he did not know
where he was, and he stated that he was headed
“nowhere.” [Doc. 37 ¶ 5; Doc. 37-1
¶¶ 9-10; Ex. A-1] After Plaintiff told Officer
Arnold that he was not injured and that he did not need an
ambulance, Officer Arnold informed the EMTs who had arrived
on the scene that they were not needed. [Doc. 37 ¶ 6;
Doc. 37-1 ¶ 11; Ex. A-1; see Doc. 44 p. 3, ¶ 3]
Based upon his observations, which he construed as signs of
impairment, Officer Arnold requested a DWI unit. [Doc. 37
¶ 8; Doc. 37-1 ¶ 13]
Jason Brown, one of the Defendants in this matter, responded
to the request of a DWI unit. [Doc. 37 ¶ 10; Doc. 37-2
¶ 4] When Officer Brown arrived, Plaintiff was standing
outside of his vehicle speaking with Officer Arnold. [Doc. 37
¶ 11; Doc. 37-2 ¶ 5] Officer Arnold told Officer
Brown that Plaintiff was “probably intoxicated.”
[Doc. 44 ¶ 4; Ex. A-1] Officer Brown noticed an
inoperable ignition interlock device on the driver's side
floor of Plaintiff's vehicle. [Doc. 37 ¶ 11; Doc.
37-2 ¶ 6; Ex. B-1] When Officer Brown questioned
Plaintiff, Plaintiff gave varying and conflicting answers in
response to questions regarding his alcohol
consumption-stating first that he had a beer in the afternoon
and subsequently stating that he had a beer the previous day.
[Doc. 37 ¶13; Doc. 37-2 ¶ 8; Ex. B-1] Plaintiff
also gave conflicting answers regarding his intended
destination-stating that he was going to work at city hall,
at the hospital, and at UNM. [Doc. 37 ¶¶ 12, 16;
Doc. 37-2 ¶ 11]
conversing with Plaintiff, Officer Brown decided to
administer field sobriety tests. [Doc. 37 ¶ 14; Doc.
37-2 ¶¶ 7-9; Ex. B-1] Before administering the
tests, Officer Brown asked Plaintiff whether he had any
medical conditions that would interfere with his ability to
perform the tests. [Doc. 37 ¶ 14; Doc. 37-2 ¶ 9;
Ex. B-1] Plaintiff denied having any such conditions. [Doc.
37 ¶ 14; Doc. 37-2 ¶ 9; Ex. B-1]
Brown administered five tests. [Ex. B-1] Although Plaintiff
said that he understood the instructions for the tests, the
officer had to repeat them several times. [Doc. 37 ¶ 15;
Doc. 37-2 ¶ 10; Ex. B-1] And, ultimately, Plaintiff
performed poorly on each test. [Doc. 37 ¶ 17; Doc. 37-2
¶ 12; Ex. B-1] Officer Brown arrested Plaintiff and took
him to the Prisoner Transport Center. [Doc. 37 ¶ 18;
Doc. 37-2 ¶ 14; Ex. B-1] There, he gave Plaintiff a
breath test which yielded a negative result for alcohol.
[Doc. 37 ¶ 19; Doc. 37-2 ¶ 14] Officer Brown then
requested that Officer Matt Trahan, a drug recognition expert
(DRE), evaluate Plaintiff. [Doc. 37 ¶ 20; Doc. 37-2
¶ 15; Doc. 37-3] Officer Trahan's “drug
recognition investigation” led him to conclude that
Plaintiff was under the influence of a central nervous system
stimulant which rendered him unable to safely operate a motor
vehicle. [Doc. 37 ¶ 20; Doc. 37-2 ¶ 15; Doc. 37-3]
Brown learned that Plaintiff, who had seven or more DWI
convictions, had a revoked driver's license and was on
probation. [Doc. 37 ¶ 23; Doc. 37-2 ¶ 16; Doc.
37-4] The Probation and Parole Division of the New Mexico
Corrections Department issued an arrest order which
prohibited Plaintiff from being released on a bond. [Doc. 37
¶¶ 22- 23; Doc. 37-4] Facts regarding
Plaintiff's detention, which are set forth in this
Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order pertaining to
Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
Requesting Dismissal of Plaintiff's Claims Under the New
Mexico Tort Claims Act (Counts IV, V, and VI) Against
Defendant City of Albuquerque (Doc. 19), are irrelevant
to the issue of qualified immunity and are not repeated here.
filed a lawsuit claiming, among other things, that Officer
Brown violated his Constitutional rights. [Doc. 1-1]
Defendants' present Motion pertains to Count I,
a Fourth Amendment based claim against Officer Brown of
unreasonable search and seizure; Count II, a Fourth Amendment
based § 1983 claim against Officer Brown of false arrest
and false imprisonment; and Count III a § 1983 claim
against the City for failure to train and supervise Officers
Brown and Trahan. Defendants argue that Officer Brown is
entitled to qualified immunity, and, therefore, the
derivative claim against the City fails as a matter of law.
[Doc. 37 p. 10-20]
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows summary
judgment when the evidence submitted by the parties
establishes that no genuine issue of material fact exists and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
An issue is “genuine” when the evidence before
the Court is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict in favor of the nonmovant as to that issue.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-52
(1986). A fact is “material” if under the
substantive law it is essential to the proper disposition of
the claim. Id. at 248. Judgment is appropriate as a
matter of law if the nonmovant has failed to make an adequate
showing on an essential element of its case, as to which it
has the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Adler v.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664, 670-71 (10th Cir.
not the Court's role to weigh the evidence, assess the
credibility of witnesses, or make factual findings in ruling
on a motion for summary judgment. Daniels v. United
Parcel Serv., Inc., 701 F.3d 620, 627 (10th Cir. 2012).
Rather, the Court assumes the admissible evidence of the
nonmovant to be true, resolves all doubts against the movant,
construes all admissible evidence in the light most favorable
to the nonmovant, and draws all reasonable inferences in
favor of the nonmovant. Hunt v. Cromartie, 526 U.S.
541, 551-52 (1999).
“Qualified immunity is an entitlement not to stand
trial or face the other burdens of litigation. The privilege
is an immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to
liability[.]” Jiron v. City of Lakewood, 392
F.3d 410, 414 (10th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). “The
doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials
from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct
does not violate clearly established statutory or