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Davidson v. City of Stafford

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

March 31, 2017

JONATHAN DAVIDSON, Plaintiff - Appellant
CITY OF STAFFORD, TEXAS; BONNY KRAHN, Chief of Police, City of Stafford, Texas; HENRY GARCIA, Police Officer, City of Stafford, Texas; STEVEN FLAGG, Police Officer, City of Stafford, Texas; DAN JONES, Police Officer, City of Stafford, Texas, Defendants-Appellees

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

          Before KING, OWEN, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.

          HAYNES, Circuit Judge:

         Plaintiff Jonathan Davidson was arrested during a protest of a Planned Parenthood in Stafford, Texas. Davidson subsequently brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his rights under the First and Fourth Amendments against Defendants Officer Steven Flagg, Officer Dan R. Jones III, Chief of Police Bonny Krahn, and the City of Stafford. The district court held that the individual officers were entitled to qualified immunity and that Davidson failed to create a dispute of fact for municipal liability for the City of Stafford. Davidson appeals. For the reasons discussed below, we AFFIRM IN PART, REVERSE IN PART, and REMAND.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         On March 31, 2013, Davidson arrived at the Planned Parenthood clinic (the "Clinic") in Stafford, Texas to protest and express his pro-life views. The Clinic is part of a commercial strip center located along the southbound feeder of U.S. 59. During his protest, Davidson stood in a green space between the parking lot of the commercial strip center and U.S. 59. The green space was bounded by the parking lot, U.S. 59, and at least one entryway from U.S. 59 to the parking lot.[1]

         Davidson's protest consisted of standing in the green space, holding a sign that said "Pray to End Abortion, " and waving at cars both on U.S. 59 and in the parking lot. If a car stopped, Davidson would speak to the passengers and offer them a card with a phone number to a service that offers free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds.[2]

         During his protest, Davidson was approached by a Clinic employee, Marilyn Chosed. Although the parties disagree on what exactly happened, both agree that Chosed informed Davidson that he had to leave. This exchange prompted Chosed to contact the Stafford Police Department ("Stafford PD"). During her phone call to Stafford PD, Chosed stated that "we have a protester out here and he keeps coming off of the area that he's supposed to and flagging down our patients before they come in the clinic." Chosed also provided the operator with a physical description of Davidson. The operator subsequently put out a dispatch stating that there was a "suspicious person call at Planned Parenthood." The operator then said "There's a white male . . . who is flagging down customers before they come in."

         Officer Steven Flagg of the Stafford PD was dispatched to the Clinic following the dispatch call. Upon arrival, he observed Davidson standing in the green space outside the parking lot. Officer Flagg proceeded to enter the Clinic and speak with Chosed, who informed Officer Flagg that Davidson had been walking in front of the Clinic and in the parking lot, approaching patients on the sidewalk and in the parking lot, and delaying or inconveniencing patients as they attempted to enter the Clinic. Chosed also informed Officer Flagg that she had warned Davidson that he was both trespassing on Clinic property and harassing Clinic patients, and that he needed to leave. Based on his conversation with Chosed, Officer Flagg believed that Davidson was walking in the parking lot and following patients to the entryway of the Clinic. Officer Flagg clarified that Chosed did not inform him where exactly Davidson had been walking. Officer Flagg also testified that Chosed did not state anything about Davidson stopping vehicles, and that, based on Chosed's description, he did not believe Davidson was delaying vehicles.

         A second officer, Dan R. Jones III, was dispatched as a backup unit to Officer Flagg and arrived shortly after Officer Flagg arrived. Together, the officers approached Davidson and asked him to come to them in the parking lot. Davidson responded that he could not, but the officers again asked Davidson to approach them. At this stage, the parties' facts diverge. On the one hand, Davidson claims that the officers began accusing him of harassing Clinic customers, to which Davidson responded that he was there to pray, hold his sign, and hand out cards. Davidson also claims to have informed the officers that he had no way of knowing which people entering the parking lot were Clinic customers. On the other hand, Officers Flagg and Jones each claim that Officer Flagg asked Davidson whether he was approaching patients or stopping vehicles, to which Davidson responded in the affirmative.[3] The officers also claim that Officer Flagg asked Davidson where he was approaching patients, but Davidson did not provide a direct response. Finally, Davidson's police report indicates that Officer Flagg asked Davidson whether he was on business property, to which Davidson stated that he knew what he was and was not allowed to do.

         At this point, Davidson backed away from the officers and acted as if he was going to continue protesting. Officer Flagg asked Davidson to come back and continue speaking to both officers. Officer Flagg also asked Davidson for identification. Davidson said he did not have any identification and that his name was "Jonathan." Officer Flagg repeatedly asked Davidson for identification or his last name, to which Davidson responded with either "Jonathan" or "Jon." Based on these responses, Officers Flagg and Jones arrested Davidson. As they arrested Davidson, the officers stated "you don't ID, you go to jail" and "you fail to ID, you got to jail." Upon a request from Davidson to know why he was being arrested, one of the officers stated "fail to ID, when we're conducting an investigation, did not identify yourself to the police." Davidson again informed the officers that his name was Jonathan and that he was not operating a motor vehicle, but an officer stated "when we're conducting an investigation, fail to give your name to the police, you go to jail."

         Davidson was charged with failure to identify under Texas Penal Code § 38.02 and taken to Fort Bend County Jail. He was released later that night. Approximately a year later, Davidson's attorney sent a letter to the City of Stafford ("the City") to confirm that Davidson would not be subject to any present or future prosecution. The City responded that it would not prosecute Davidson for his previous conduct but did not state whether it would prosecute Davidson for similar conduct in the future. Davidson testified that he intends to protest the Clinic in the future but had not returned because he does not want to end up back in jail.

         Davidson subsequently filed suit, alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his rights to both freedom of speech under the First Amendment and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment. Davidson also asserted an as-applied challenge to Texas Penal Code §§ 38.02 and 42.03. Davidson named Officers Flagg and Jones, Chief of Police Bonny Krahn, and the City as defendants. Davidson's complaint sought damages, including punitive damages, as well as a declaration that Defendants' actions, policies, and practices violated the Constitution.

         Following an answer by the Defendants and discovery, Defendants filed motions for summary judgment. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendants on all claims. The district court held that (1) Officer Flagg, Officer Jones, and Chief Krahn were entitled to qualified immunity and (2) the City was entitled to summary judgment because Davidson failed to demonstrate any policy that caused Davidson's alleged constitutional violation.

          II. Jurisdiction and Standard of Review

         The district court had subject matter jurisdiction over Davidson's claim under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and this court has jurisdiction to review the final judgment under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

         An appeal from a grant of summary judgment is reviewed de novo. Moss v. BMC Software, Inc., 610 F.3d 917, 922 (5th Cir. 2010). "The court shall grant summary judgment 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). "When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court views all facts and evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Howell v. Town of Ball, 827 F.3d 515, 522 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Moss, 610 F.3d at 922), cert denied, 137 S.Ct. 815 (2017).

         III. Discussion

         Davidson's appeal both challenges the district court's grant of summary judgment on his § 1983 claims and argues that the district court failed to address his claims that the City's actions ...

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