United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JESSE B. HELMS, Plaintiff,
PATROLMAN TIMOTHY RYDER and PATROLMAN KEITH WALL, Defendants.
McKay, III, Esq. Leigh Ann Benson, Esq. COZEN O'CONNOR
Attorneys for Plaintiff
Michael Palm, Esq. LAW OFFICE OF JOHN M. PALM, LLC
C. Long, Jr., Esq. WADE LONG WOOD & KENNEDY, P.A.
Attorneys for Defendants
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
matter comes before the Court upon the motion of Defendants
Patrolman Timothy Ryder (hereinafter, “Patrolman
Ryder”) and Patrolman Keith Wall (hereinafter
“Defendants”) for summary judgment on Plaintiff
Jesse Helms' (hereinafter “Plaintiff”) §
1983 excessive force claims against them. Plaintiff, who was
driving a stolen vehicle and fled the police, was found
hiding facedown under a truck in the neighborhood and was
subsequently arrested. He alleges that after he was
handcuffed and submitted to Defendants' orders, he was
punched several times in the side and the back of his head.
For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny
Defendants' motion for summary judgment.
November 29, 2013, Patrolman Ryder, while on routine patrol,
completed a registration check of the vehicle being driven by
Plaintiff, and he learned that the vehicle was reported as a
stolen vehicle. (Defendants' Statement of Material Facts
(“SMF”) at ¶ 12.) Patrolman Ryder activated
his lights and siren but Plaintiff did not stop; instead, he
drove through several stop signs until he arrived at a dead
end street. (Id.) At that point, Plaintiff exited
his vehicle and began to run, despite Patrolman Ryder
commanding him to stop and to get on the ground.
(Id.) Patrolman Ryder called for backup, and
eventually found Plaintiff hiding underneath a nearby truck.
Plaintiff was found under the vehicle, he was told by
Patrolman Ryder to place his hands out or he would be shot.
(Id. at ¶ 3.) Patrolman Ryder, Patrolman Wall
and a K-9 handler, Officer Kerner pulled him out, handcuffed
and arrested him. (Id. at ¶ 12.) While
Defendants were handcuffing Plaintiff as he laid on the
ground, they held him down with one of them kneeling on him
so that he would not run away. (Id. at ¶ 15.)
Plaintiff claims that once he was handcuffed, Patrolman Ryder
and then Patrolman Wall punched him multiple times in the
side and back of his head, while Defendants deny that any
punches were thrown.
was photographed that night at the Gloucester City Police
Department while being booked, and the booking photograph
does not show any bruising or punching marks. (Id.
at ¶ 10, 13.) As a result of this incident, Plaintiff
has claimed various physical injuries, color flashes,
forgetfulness, decline in his right eye vision, and now
having to wear eyeglasses. (Id. at ¶ 2.)
Plaintiff submitted a medical report from Dr. Scott Sharetts,
and he opined that as a result of the event, Plaintiff
sustained a “mild/grade 1 concussion without documented
loss of consciousness, vomiting, seizure activity,
etc.” (Id. at ¶ 5; Ex. C. to Def. Br. at
3.) Plaintiff admits that there is nothing today that cannot
do that he could do before this incident and that his only
limitation after the incident is reading without glasses.
(Id. at ¶ 9.)
expert Dr. Bernard Kaplan reviewed Plaintiff's extensive
medical chart of prior and subsequent medical and eye care
records and examined the booking photographs on the date of
the incident from the Gloucester City Police and Camden
County Jail. (Id. at ¶ 7.) He opined that it
was “extraordinary unlikely” that the incident
between Plaintiff and Defendants would be responsible for his
change in vision and his need for eye glasses. (Ex. E to Def.
Br. at 2.)
was charged with numerous offenses including resisting arrest
by flight, eluding police, receiving stolen property,
trespassing and numerous motor vehicle tickets. (Id.
at ¶ 16.) He eventually pled guilty to eluding the
police and third degree burglary. (Id. at ¶
initially filed his complaint pro se on April 14,
2014, asserting § 1983 excessive force claims against
the City of Gloucester, the Chief of Police and Patrolman
Ryder. [Docket Item 1.] After the appointment of pro bono
counsel, Plaintiff filed his Amended Complaint against only
Patrolman Ryder and Patrolman Wall on November 23, 2015.
[Docket Item 38.] Count One is a § 1983 violation
against Patrolman Ryder, and Count Two is a § 1983
violation against Patrolman Wall. Plaintiff seeks