Key Phrases: Qualified Immunity, Use of Force, Handcuffs

In this 42 USC 1983 civil suit for excessive use of force, the plaintiff alleged that police officers intentionally applied handcuffs too tight for the purpose of inflicting pain and that this use of force was gratuitous and excessive because he was under control and was obeying commands.  The plaintiff asserts this force was used solely because he refused consent to search his vehicle. The court noted the serious permanent injuries that were alleged and used the Graham factors as well as the gratuitous unnecessary use of force for an extended period to deny qualified immunity.

Editor’s Note: It is important to remember that in a motion for summary judgment the facts are always construed in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. This means that if there is a dispute of facts in the allegations a person makes against an officer, then the facts must be taken as presented in the version offered by the plaintiff in the civil suit against the officer.  Significant disputes of fact typically need to be resolved either through discovery or by a jury at trial.  You can’t always count on winning at the summary judgment stage, even if you did nothing wrong!

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