United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
FLOWERS CONTI SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case arose from a bizarre incident in which the plaintiff,
Dwayne Harvard (“Harvard”), drove for ten miles,
at highway speed, with a man on the hood of his car. Pending
before the court is a motion for summary judgment (ECF No.
34) filed by defendants Christopher J. Cesnalis
(“Cesnalis”) and Daniel L. Beatty
(“Beatty”), the Pennsylvania state troopers who
arrested and pressed charges against Harvard. The concise
statements of material fact (“CSMF”) are
thoroughly developed and motion is fully briefed and ripe for
summary judgment stage, the facts must be construed in the
light most favorable to Harvard, the nonmoving party. The
factual summary is taken largely verbatim from Harvard's
proposed additional statement of material facts (see
Parties' Joint CSMF, ECF No. 46 at ¶¶ 26-97).
The court will provide citations to the record where it has
modified or supplemented these facts.
April 19, 2015, the date of the incident, Harvard was acting
as a good Samaritan. He was driving his vehicle in New
Kensington, Pennsylvania, when he was flagged down by Anna
Mazzetti (“Mazzetti”), who was outside a
convenience store. That day was the first time Harvard met or
encountered Mazzetti. Mazzetti was in distress and asked
Harvard for a ride home. Harvard agreed to help Mazzetti and
drove her straight to her residence in Springdale Township,
Pennsylvania, located approximately 15 minutes from the
convenience store. Harvard is an African-American male (CSMF
¶ 1) and Mazzetti is a white woman. (Police Report, ECF
after arriving at Mazzetti's residence, her boyfriend,
Steven Sutton (“Sutton”), a white male (CSMF
¶ 6), exited the residence and approached Harvard's
vehicle in a hostile manner. Sutton was yelling at Mazzetti,
making threats and trying to get Mazzetti out of the vehicle.
Sutton tried to open the passenger side door, but it was
locked. Harvard rolled down his window slightly and attempted
to talk to Sutton. Sutton called Harvard “nigger”
multiple times. Sutton proceeded to pick up a cinder block,
cocked his arm back and threatened to throw the cinder block
through Harvard's vehicle's windshield. Because of
Sutton's actions, Harvard was in fear of severe bodily
harm for Mazzetti and himself. Harvard tried to calm Sutton
by asking him to put the cinder block down.
Harvard's urgent pleadings, Sutton became more
aggressive. Sutton told Mazzetti that he would “chop
her up” and brandished a large kitchen knife
approximately 12 inches long and 2 inches thick. Sutton
threatened to kill Mazzetti and Harvard. Sutton said to
Harvard, “you big black nigger, you stay right there I
got something for you.” (ECF No. 46 ¶ 40). Sutton
then told Harvard that he was going to shoot him. Sutton
entered the residence, and Harvard, believing Sutton to be a
threat, called 911. While Sutton walked toward the residence,
Harvard drove forward out of Mazzetti's driveway in fear
for Mazzetti's safety and his safety.
thereafter, Sutton reemerged from the residence and jumped on
the hood of Harvard's vehicle. Harvard did not hit Sutton
with his vehicle; rather, Sutton jumped onto the vehicle and
held onto the hood of Harvard's vehicle.
traveling approximately 15 yards, Harvard slowed his vehicle
to allow Sutton to safely remove himself off the hood. Sutton
remained on the hood of Harvard's vehicle. While Sutton
was on the hood of the vehicle, he continued to threaten to
kill Harvard, yelling “I'm going to kill you,
nigger.” (ECF No. 46 ¶ 45). Harvard responded by
telling Sutton that he was going to slow his vehicle down to
allow Sutton to remove himself off the hood. When Harvard
slowed his vehicle to let Sutton off, Sutton began pounding
on the hood of the vehicle. During this incident, Harvard
noticed a bulge in Sutton's waistband, which Harvard
believed to be a firearm and caused him further worry for
Mazzetti's safety and his safety.
remained on the phone with a female 911 operator throughout
this incident. Harvard informed the 911 operator that Sutton
was located on the hood of Harvard's vehicle, and that he
was making threats of bodily harm to Harvard and Mazzetti.
The 911 operator originally provided no instructions. Harvard
Deposition at 37. Harvard drove through Springdale Township
down to Freeport Road, into Harmar Township past the Harmar
Township police station, and got onto Route 28 northbound at
exit 11 (Harmarville). (Incident Report, ECF No. 37-7). Sutton
discarded his knife in Springdale, prior to entering the
highway, and ripped the windshield wipers off Harvard's
vehicle on Route 28. Harvard Deposition at 38.
Harvard informed the 911 operator that he was near Exit 14,
the operator instructed Harvard to drive to and get off at
Exit 15, where law enforcement officers would be waiting for
them. The 911 operator never instructed Harvard to stop while
he was driving on State Route 28. While talking with the 911
operator, Harvard requested assistance from law enforcement
officers before and after entering onto the highway. During
this time, Harvard continued to inform the 911 operator about
Sutton's verbal attacks and aggressive behavior,
including, but not limited to, Sutton reaching into his
waistband where Harvard believed that Sutton had a firearm.
Harvard believed that the 911 operator informed law
enforcement about Sutton's prolonged and violent attack
on the Harvard.
drove on State Route 28 for approximately ten miles, with
Sutton on the hood of his car. CSMF ¶ 9. Harvard drove
as fast as the speed limit allowed, if not faster. CSMF
Township police officer Justin Bouch (“Bouch”)
was contacted by the dispatcher. (Police Report, ECF No.
37-3). While on Burtner Road, heading toward exit
15 of Route 28, he observed a silver SUV heading toward him
with a man on the hood, face down, holding onto the
windshield wipers. He activated his lights and sirens.
instructed by the 911 operator, Harvard exited State Route 28
at exit 15. While exiting the highway, Harvard saw Sutton
discard an item, which Harvard believed to be a firearm.
Harvard exited the highway and followed the 911
operator's instructions to where he was to meet the law
enforcement officers. Harvard stopped his vehicle in front of
several law enforcement officers, who were blocking the road.
The officers had their firearms drawn and pointed at
ordered the male on the hood of the car (Sutton) to get on
the ground. (Police Report, ECF No. 37-3). Harvard and
Mazzetti were ordered out of the vehicle with their hands in
the air. Id. At this time, Harvard was still on the
phone with the 911 operator and was directed by one of the
officers to put the phone down. All suspects were held at
gunpoint until backup arrived. Id. When backup
arrived a few seconds later, Bouch handcuffed Sutton and
placed him in the back of his patrol car. Id.
Harvard did not observe Sutton being handcuffed at any point.
(ECF No. 46 ¶ 79).
a Pennsylvania state trooper, was contacted by the
Pennsylvania State Police dispatcher and told that there was
a man on the hood of a vehicle traveling north on Route 28.
Cesnalis Deposition at 13. Cesnalis was informed by dispatch
that Harvard had called 911 and reported that he feared for
his safety. Cesnalis arrived on the scene after the car was
stopped by the local police and Sutton was in the police car.
Cesnalis Deposition at 27.
Harvard put his phone down, Cesnalis approached Harvard and
asked him if he had been drinking. Cesnalis smelled alcohol
and Harvard was talking in a rapid manner. Cesnalis
Deposition at 32. Harvard informed Cesnalis that he had two
beers approximately four hours before. Harvard tried to
explain Sutton's hostile and violent conduct and the
events previously described, but Cesnalis refused to listen
to Harvard. Instead, Cesnalis kept repeating to Harvard that
Harvard had been drinking. Harvard reiterated that he had
only two beers and that he was fine.
had Harvard perform a Breathalyzer test. (Incident Report,
ECF No. 37-7). Cesnalis said to Harvard, “You
understand me boy, I want you to blow into the
Breathalyzer.” CSMF ¶ 70 (citing Harvard's
Deposition at 54). During Harvard's attempts at the
Breathalyzer test, Cesnalis yelled at Harvard, called him
“boy” and threatened to handcuff him. After six
attempts, Harvard was able to perform and pass the
Breathalyzer test. (Incident Report, ECF No. 37-7).
Harvard's blood alcohol content, according to the
Breathalyzer, was 0.64, which is below the legal limit of
0.8. Cesnalis believed that Harvard was under the influence
of stimulants or narcotics because he was sweaty, speaking
too rapidly and not directly answering questions, as well as
the nature of the incident. Cesnalis Deposition at 65.
told Cesnalis that he feared for his safety and thought
Sutton had a weapon. Harvard stated to Cesnalis:
“[Sutton] got on the hood of my car. I was scared for
my life.” CSMF 66. Harvard informed Cesnalis that
Sutton had a large knife and that he kept reaching for his
waistband where Harvard believed he kept a firearm. There was
no effort made by law enforcement to attempt to find the
knife described by Harvard. Cesnalis asked Harvard whether it
was a windshield wiper rather than a knife, which Harvard
denied. (Incident Report, ECF No. 37-7). Without an
explanation as to why, Cesnalis chose not to believe Harvard
regarding Sutton's knife.
interviewed Sutton at the scene regarding the incident.
Sutton told Cesnalis that he was hit by Harvard's vehicle
and that he had landed on top of the car. At the time,
Cesnalis found that Sutton's statement did not make
sense, but Cesnalis did not question Sutton further as to how
he landed on top of the vehicle. Sutton was transported to
the station in a police cruiser, but was not arrested or
charged. (Police Report, ECF No. 37-3). Cesnalis spoke with
Beatty about charging Sutton. Cesnalis Deposition at 72.
Cesnalis did not consider Sutton's rap sheet, but was
aware of him from past police incidents. Cesnalis Deposition
interviewed Mazzetti at the scene regarding the incident.
Mazzetti informed Cesnalis that Sutton was crazy, he had a
cinder block and came toward the vehicle, she was afraid to
get out of the vehicle and Harvard slowed his vehicle down a
few times to give Sutton the opportunity to get off, but
Sutton refused to get off. Prior to talking to Mazzetti,
Cesnalis had already decided that he was going to charge
Harvard with crimes. Cesnalis concluded that he was going to
charge Harvard with crimes because Harvard drove through a
whole bunch of different towns and Route 28 with a man on the
hood of his vehicle. Cesnalis Deposition at 77.
was handcuffed and told that he was being taken to the
barracks “for safety reasons.” CSMF ¶ 74.
Cesnalis intended to have a drug evaluation performed.
Harvard was transported to the state police barracks where he
was further interrogated by Cesnalis, who was joined by
Beatty, a Pennsylvania state trooper who was a Drug
Recognition Expert (“DRE”). CSMF ¶¶ 3,
84. Harvard again tried to explain the incident to Cesnalis,
i.e., that Sutton had a weapon and was threatening Harvard
and Mazzetti, but Cesnalis refused to listen to Harvard.
ran a series of tests to determine whether Harvard was under
the influence of drugs or alcohol. Harvard's blood
alcohol level at the time of the examination was 0.51. (ECF
No. 37-7 at 15). In his “Drug Influence Evaluation,
” Beatty reported that Sutton told Cesnalis he
witnessed Harvard smoking crack cocaine in his vehicle during
the incident. (ECF No. 37-7 at 15). There is no evidence in
the record, besides this report, corroborating this statement
attributed to Sutton. During the examination, Beatty accused
Harvard of being on cocaine.
recorded the following observations of Harvard: his attitude
was cooperative, his coordination seemed poor, no distinct
odors were observed, his face was sweaty, he was very
talkative, his eyes were bloodshot and watery, his pulse was
substantially higher than normal, and there was a lack of
smooth pursuit during the horizontal gaze nystagmus. (ECF No.
37-7 at 17). Harvard had some problems with the walk and turn
test and one leg stand. (ECF No. 37-7 at 18). Beatty opined
in the report: “As an IACP certified Drug Recognition
Expert it is my opinion that HARVARD is under the influence
of CNS Depressants and CNS Stimulants. Furthermore it is my
opinion that he is under the influence to a degree that has
impaired his ability to safely drive, operate or be in actual
physical control of a motor vehicle.” (ECF No. 37- 7 at
20-21). Based on Beatty's opinion, Cesnalis included a
driving under the influence (“DUI”) charge in the
criminal complaint he was drafting. Cesnalis Deposition at
requested that Harvard consent to a blood test. Harvard
complied and was transported to the hospital. CSMF ¶ 90.
In a comment on the evidence submission form for
Harvard's blood test, it was noted that Harvard was under
the influence of crack cocaine. (ECF No. 37-7 at 14). The
officers requested that the crime lab perform an analysis for
stimulant suspected crack cocaine and analysis BAC%.
the hospital, Harvard was returned to the barracks for a
short period of time and was transported to the Allegheny
County Jail. Cesnalis completed the Affidavit of Probable
Cause on April 20, 2015, in which Harvard was charged with
aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, reckless driving,
driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled
substance, simple assault and reckless driving. In the
Affidavit of Probable Cause, Cesnalis failed to include any