United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
FASHING UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on defendants Janice Madrid and
Richard Williamson's Amended Motion for Summary Judgment
on the Basis of Qualified Immunity and Other Grounds. Doc.
65. Plaintiff Roxanne Torres opposes the motion. Doc. 76. For
the following reasons, the Court GRANTS defendants'
Undisputed Material Facts
Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014, New Mexico State Police
officers went to an apartment complex in Albuquerque to serve
an arrest warrant on a person named Kayenta Jackson. The
officers believed Ms. Jackson was a resident of apartment
number 22. The arrest warrant for Ms. Jackson was for white
collar crimes, but she also was suspected of having been
involved in drug trafficking, murder, and other violent
crimes. Defendants Janice Madrid and Richard Williamson were
two of the police officers involved.
Madrid and Officer Williamson parked their unmarked patrol
vehicle near a 2010 black and white Toyota FJ Cruiser.
Plaintiff Roxanne Torres was in the Toyota FJ Cruiser with
her motor running. She had backed into her parking spot, and
there were cars on either side of her. Officers Madrid and
Williamson were wearing tactical vests and dark clothing.
Their clothing clearly identified them as police officers,
but Ms. Torres testified that she is unable to read and write
because of a learning disability.
Madrid and Williamson attempted to open the locked door of
the Toyota FJ Cruiser in which Ms. Torres was sitting. Ms.
Torres saw one person standing at her driver's side
window, and another at the front tire of her car. Although
the officers repeatedly shouted, “Open the door!,
” Ms. Torres claimed she could not hear them because
her windows were rolled up. Ms. Torres thought she was the
victim of an attempted car-jacking, so she drove forward.
Both officers testified that they believed Ms. Torres was
going to hit them with her car, and that they were in fear
for their lives. Ms. Torres claims that neither officer was
in harm's way. Both officers fired their duty weapons at
Ms. Torres. Ms. Torres did not stop.
Ms. Torres continued to drive forward, over a curb and
landscaping, and she then left the area. She drove to a
commercial area, lost control of her car, and stole a
different car that had been left running in a parking lot.
She then drove to Grants, New Mexico. Ms. Torres first
noticed that she had been shot when she got to Grants, and
she went to the hospital for treatment. She stayed in the
hospital one day.
following day, on July 16, 2014, Ms. Torres was charged by
criminal complaint with two counts of aggravated assault with
a deadly weapon upon a peace officer, and one count of the
unlawful taking of a motor vehicle. Doc. 65-5. She was taken
into custody the same day. Doc. 65-6 at 3. She was indicted
on these charges two weeks later, on July 30, 2014. Doc.
65-6. Count 1 of the indictment identified Officer Williamson
as the victim, and count 2 of the indictment identified
Officer Madrid as the victim. Id. On March 31, 2015,
Ms. Torres pled no contest to aggravated fleeing from a law
enforcement officer, in violation of N.M. Stat. Ann. §
30-22-1.1, a lesser included offense of count 1 of the
indictment. Doc. 65-7 at 1. She also pled no contest to
assault upon a peace officer, in violation of N.M. Stat. Ann.
§ 30-22-21, a lesser included offense of count 2 of the
indictment. Id. In addition, she pled no contest to
count 3 of the indictment, which was the unlawful taking of a
vehicle charge. Id.
counts I and III of her complaint, Ms. Torres alleges that
Officer Madrid and Officer Williamson, respectively, through
the intentional discharge of their weapons, “exceeded
the degree of force which a reasonable, prudent law
enforcement officer would have applied under these same
circumstances.” Doc. 1 ¶¶ 14, 21. In counts
II and IV,  Ms. Torres alleges that Officers Madrid
and Williamson conspired together to use excessive force
against her. Id. ¶¶ 17, 24. In other
words, all of Ms. Torres's claims are excessive force
claims under the Fourth Amendment.
defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity
on all of Ms. Torres's excessive force claims not only
because the officers' use of deadly force was reasonable
under the circumstances, but also because Ms. Torres's
claims are barred under the Heck doctrine. Doc. 65
at 9-18. They further contend that her excessive force claims
fail because she was never seized, and without a seizure,
there can be no Fourth Amendment excessive force claim. Doc.
82 at 10- 11. Because I agree that the undisputed material
facts show that Ms. Torres was never seized, she cannot
prevail on her claims that the officers' used excessive
force in effecting a seizure. I therefore grant
Legal Standard for Summary Judgment Motions
judgment will be granted “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.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute exists if “the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party” on the issue.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). “Only disputes over facts that ...