United States District Court, D. Colorado
R. Brooke Jackson
Brooke Jackson United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on three pending motions: (1)
defendant Ross Blank's motion for summary judgment, ECF
No. 78; (2) defendant City of Steamboat Springs,
Colorado's motion for summary judgment, ECF No. 80; and
(3) plaintiff Benjamin Holdridge's partial motion for
summary judgment, ECF No. 82. For the reasons below, the
Court GRANTS defendants' motions [ECF Nos. 78, 80] and
DENIES plaintiff's motion [ECF No. 82].
Benjamin Holdridge, a resident of Steamboat Springs, alleges
that several police officers violated his Fourth Amendment
rights on the night of September 8, 2014. See
generally Am. Compl., ECF No. 18. That night, plaintiff
and his friend, Ms. Gina Robertson (not a party to this
suit), biked into downtown Steamboat Springs from their
nearby home to attend a surprise birthday party for one of
their friends. Dep. of Benjamin Holdridge, ECF No. 78-1, at
after 11:00pm plaintiff and Ms. Robertson were walking their
bikes home on the side of U.S. Highway 40 when Officer Ross
Blank, a Steamboat Springs police officer on patrol at the
time, pulled his vehicle over to talk with Ms. Robertson.
Dep. of Ross Blank, ECF No. 78-2, at 8:4-10:2, 104:11-20.
Officer Blank stopped to talk to Ms. Robertson after noticing
that she was stumbling as she walked her bike along the road.
Id. at 48:18-49:5, 104:15-18. At some point during
the encounter, Officer Blank asked to see Ms. Robertson's
driver's license. See id.
was happening, Mr. Holdridge, who was walking his bike
approximately 50 yards behind Ms. Robertson at the time,
tried to catch up to where Officer Blank had stopped to talk
to Ms. Robertson. ECF No. 78-1 at 60:1-61:22. As he
approached, Mr. Holdridge apparently demanded in an agitated
manner to know why Officer Blank stopped to talk with Ms.
Robertson and why he was asking her certain questions.
Id. Plaintiff also yelled out to Ms. Robertson as he
approached that she did not have hand over her license to
Officer Blank. ECF No. 78-2 at 48:20-49:2.
this agitated, possibly intoxicated, and then-unknown man
appear out of the darkness, Officer Blank ordered Mr.
Holdridge to stop and stay put. See Id. at 49: 3-18;
Police Report, ECF No. 78-5, at 2 (plaintiff “appeared
angry and intoxicated”). Plaintiff refused, continuing
to walk towards Officer Blank and Ms. Robertson. ECF No. 78-2
at 49:24-50:1. At that point, Officer Blank once again
ordered plaintiff to stop and stay where he was, adding this
time that if plaintiff refused to comply that he would be
forced to break out his handcuffs and secure plaintiff in his
car. See id. at 51:1-3; ECF No. 78-5, at 2.
Mr. Holdridge, now within only a couple of feet of Officer
Blank and Ms. Robertson, taunted Officer Blank. See
Id. at 51:1-3. “You better do it, then,
” he said. Id. So Office Blank did. ECF No.
78-5 at 2.
control of plaintiff's arms, Officer Blank handcuffed Mr.
Holdridge and escorted him over to his police SUV parked
nearby. Id. The parties dispute whether or not
plaintiff resisted. Id.; ECF No. 78-1 at 76:4-12. In
any event, State Trooper Brendan DiGeorge, who was driving by
the scene and saw Officer Blank trying to put someone in a
parked police vehicle, quickly stopped and helped Officer
Blank secure plaintiff. Dep. of Brendan DiGeorge, ECF No.
78-3, at 11: 13-22. Officer Jeffrey Malchow and
Sergeant Scott Middleton, responding to a call Officer Blank
apparently put out over his radio at some point during the
encounter with plaintiff, also showed up shortly thereafter.
Dep. of Jeffrey Malchow, ECF No. 78-4, at 23:9-24. Once he
arrived, Officer Malchow went over to speak with Ms.
Robertson who remained standing on the side of the road as
these events unfolded. Id. at 33: 8-21. After
several officers determining that she had a safe means to get
home, Ms. Robertson subsequently left the scene. See
id.; ECF No. 78-5 at 2.
Mr. Holdridge, who was now handcuffed in the back of Officer
Blank's vehicle, began to complain that his handcuffs had
been put on too tight. See ECF No. 78-1 at
99:6-100:14. Hearing plaintiff's complaints, Sergeant
Middleton subsequently loosened plaintiff's handcuffs
before Officer Blank drove plaintiff to the Routt County
jail. Dep. of Scott Middleton, ECF No. 78-8, at 103:2-8.
point before he was charged with obstructing a peace officer
and resisting arrest-charges that were ultimately dismissed
under a diversion agreement, ECF No. 78-6- plaintiff claims
that one of the officers on the scene hit him in the face
with a flashlight or some other hard object, ECF No. 78-1 at
88:12-24. Initially accusing Trooper DiGeorge of hitting him
in interviews immediately after these events took place, see,
e.g., Memorandum by Chief Bob Del Valle, ECF No. 78-9, at 2,
plaintiff later claimed that he could not recall which
officer it was that allegedly struck him, Memorandum by
Sergeant Scott Elliott, ECF No. 78-12, at 5; ECF No. 78-1 at
103:5-14. For their part, all officers on the scene deny that
any one of them struck plaintiff in the face with a
flashlight or otherwise. See ECF No. 78-2 at
56:7-15; ECF No. 78-3 at 36:14-37:24; ECF No. 78-4 at
50:7-10, 53:6-18, 65:6-16; ECF No. 78-8 at 78:12-19,
a year after these events took place Mr. Holdridge filed suit
against Officer Blank, Trooper DiGeorge, Sergeant Middleton,
and Officer Malchow, as well as “John Does 1-10”
and the City of Steamboat Springs, on October 24, 2015.
Compl., ECF No. 2. Plaintiff subsequently amended his
complaint a few months later on January 4, 2016. ECF No. 18.
Plaintiff's amended complaint, which is the operative
pleading in this action, asserts sixteen claims for relief
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the Fourth
Amendment. See Id. at ¶¶222-342.
In order, they are as follows:
(1) a claim for unlawful seizure against Officer Blank,
id. at ¶¶222-29;
(2) a claim for excessive force against Officer Blank,
id. at ¶230-36;
(3) a claim for unlawful arrest against Officer Blank,
(4) a claim for unlawful seizure against Sergeant Middleton,
id. at ¶¶245-52;
(5) a claim for unlawful arrest against Sergeant Middleton,
id. at ¶¶253-60;
(6) a claim for unlawful seizure against Trooper DiGeorge,
(7) a claim for unlawful arrest against Trooper DiGeorge,
id. at ¶¶269-76;
(8) a claim for excessive force against Trooper DiGeorge,
id. at ¶¶277-83;
(9) a claim for failure to intercede against Sergeant
Middleton, id.at ...