United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF
WRIGHT, SR.'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
MATTER comes before the Court upon Plaintiff Shamus Wright,
Sr.'s Motion for Summary Judgment, filed July 31, 2019
(Doc. 49). Plaintiff claims that he was
deprived of his Fourth Amendment rights to be free of
unreasonable seizures following his arrests by Hobbs Police
Department officers. Having reviewed the parties'
pleadings and the applicable law, the Court finds that
Plaintiff's motion is not well-taken and, therefore, is
Wright contends that the Defendant officers were acting
outside of their lawful authority when he was arrested for
refusing to provide identification and because he was
verbally objecting to police activity. Mr. Wright's
co-plaintiff, Kentoine Penman, has filed a separate motion
for summary judgment against the same defendants (Doc. 32)
claiming that they violated his constitutional rights by
unlawfully detaining him. The Court will address Mr.
Penman's motion separately although the factual narrative
intertwines both plaintiffs.
to the Complaint and the Joint Status Report (Doc. 22), both
Plaintiffs were standing in a roadway on the evening of June
28, 2018 preparing for the Wright family reunion at that
location. Hobbs Police Department (“HPD”) Officer
Juan Jaimes was conducting a nearby traffic stop and noticed
Mr. Penman and De' Aunte Meridyth standing in the roadway
near a parked car on a residential street. Officer Jaimes
decided to detain the two under the state statute that makes
it unlawful for a pedestrian “to walk along or upon an
adjacent roadway” where sidewalks are provided. NMSA
1978, §66-7-339 (“Pedestrian on Roadway”
statute). Officer Jaimes approached Mr. Penman and Mr.
Meridyth in his patrol car with his emergency lights engaged.
They began to walk away, Officer Jaimes called them back and
Mr. Penman complied. Officer Jaimes asked Mr. Penman to
produce identification, which he did.
Officer Jaimes was conducting a records check on Mr. Penman,
Officers Gastelum and Martinez arrived on the scene and tried
to get identification from Mr. Meridyth. Mr. Meridyth walked
behind Plaintiff Wright who was standing on a sidewalk. Mr.
Wright repeatedly asked the officers why they were there. The
officers told Mr. Wright that he was “interjecting
himself” into their investigation and asked him to
produce identification. Mr. Wright refused and explained that
he had done nothing wrong. Officers Martinez and Gastelum
informed Mr. Wright that he was being placed under arrest for
Concealing Identity. Officer Gastelum conducted a leg sweep
of Mr. Wright, causing him to go to the ground. Officer
Martinez used his body weight to keep Mr. Wright pinned to
the ground and Officer Gastelum handcuffed him. Mr. Wright
was taken to the patrol unit, transported to Hobbs City Jail
and charged with Concealing Identity and Resisting, Evading
and Obstructing an officer.
claim that while Officer Jaimes was conducting a records
check of Mr. Penman, Mr. Wright approached Officer Martinez
and became increasingly vocal about the officers'
presence. He had his hands in his pockets at the time and
when Officer asked him to remove his hands from his pockets
and leave the scene, Mr. Wright refused and began inciting
the crowd against the officers. When Mr. Wright refused to
provide identifying information and then resisted arrest,
Officer Gastelum performed the leg sweep. Mr. Wright
continued to struggle and Officer Jaimes came over to assist
the other two officers in arresting Mr. Wright after
obtaining Mr. Penman's information. Officer Jaimes pulled
out his Taser and told Mr. Wright to place his hand behind
his back. As the officers were attempting to arrest him, the
crowd on the sidewalk began to move closer to the officers
while at the same time several vehicles arrives and the crowd
grew to about forty people. Doc. 22 at 7-8.
claim that Mr. Wright continued to yell and escalate the
situation and the crowd was yelling at Officers Gastelum and
Martinez as they attempted to place handcuffs on Wright. Mr.
Penman also approached the officers, standing inches away
from Officer Martinez' face and trying to record the
incident. When Officer Jaimes instructed him to back away
repeatedly, Mr. Penman refused. Officer Martinez then
informed Mr. Penman that he was under arrest for repeatedly
refusing to step back. Mr. Penman shoved Officer Martinez and
ran off. Officer Martinez pursued Mr. Penman, lunged toward
him, picked him up from the ground and forced him onto the
ground. Officer Jaimes approached Officer Martinez and told
Mr. Penman to place his hands behind his back, but Penman
refused. By this time, the crowd had closed in again and was
about three feet away from the officers. Officer Jaimes
placed his knee on Penman's upper back and pointed the
Taser at the crowd of people. The crowd retreated. Officer
Jaimes told Mr. Penman to place his hands behind his back or
he would be tased, and Penman complied. Mr. Penman was
arrested and escorted to Hobbs City Jail.
arresting Mr. Penman, Officer Jaimes found a small plastic
bag that contained a white powdery substance near the ground
where Mr. Penman was detained. Officer Jaimes also searched
the back seat area of his patrol unit where Mr. Penman had
been sitting. He found two small plastic bags, one containing
a green leafy substance and the other a white crystalline
substance. Mr. Penman told Officer Jaimes he had just
finished smoking weed, that the bag containing the green
leafy substance was his and that the bag with the white
powdery substance was cocaine and also belonged to him.
However, Mr. Penman told Officer Jaimes that the small bag
containing a white crystalline substance was not his. Tests
conducted with a narcotics reagent kit at the HPD revealed
that the white powdery substance was cocaine, the white
crystalline substance was methamphetamine and that the green
leafy substance was marijuana.
28, 2018, Mr. Penman was arrested for following crimes: 1)
Pedestrians in the Roadway, Resisting; 2) Obstructing, or
Evading an Officer; 3) Possession of Cocaine,
Methamphetamine, and Marijuana; and 4) Assault and Battery on
a Peace Officer. Mr. Wright was arrested for the following
crimes: 1) Concealing Identity; and 2) Resisting, Evading, or
Obstructing an Officer.
of the Complaint alleges Wrongful Arrest and detention of Mr.
Wright, and Count II alleges Unlawful Detention and seizure
of Mr. Penman, both in violation of their Fourth Amendment
Mr. Penman's motion will not be addressed here, both
Plaintiffs have filed summary judgment motions, with the
individual officers relying on a defense of qualified
immunity, which shields government officials from liability
for civil damages “insofar as their conduct does not
violate clearly established statutory or constitutional
rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009);
Romero v. Story, 672 F.3d 880 (10th Cir.
2012). “In resolving questions of qualified
immunity at summary judgment, courts engage in a two-pronged
inquiry.” Tolan v. Cotton, 134 S.Ct. 1861,
1865(2014). The first prong asks whether the facts, taken in
the light most favorable to the party asserting the
injury-here the Defendant officers-show that the
officer's conduct violated a federal right. The second
asks whether the right in ...