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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

8th Circuit affirms ruling in police officer's favor in Buzz Beach Ball concert injury case

Lawsuits

By Gabriel Neves | Feb 20, 2019


ST. LOUIS – A federal appellate court has declined to reverse a judgment in a police officer's favor in a case filed by a man who allegedly was injured at a concert in Kansas City by the officer.

U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Melloy, on the bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, issued an 11-page ruling on Feb. 14, affirming the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri decision in the lawsuit filed by David Kasiah against Crowd Systems Inc., Gilbert Carter and the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners. 

The Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment that was entered in favor of Carter and the board of police commissioners.

Kasiah had appealed the decision, arguing that the lower court erred when it granted summary judgment in Carter and the board's favor on his allegations of excessive force, assault and battery and that the board was liable for Carter's alleged use of excessive force.

In his ruling, Melloy wrote that Carter "acted reasonably" when apprehending Kasiah and did not "act with malice." The ruling states that the doctrine of official immunity applies for the battery and assault allegations and that the board cannot be held liable.

"The board cannot be held liable for Carter’s actions because Carter did not violate the constitution," Melloy wrote.

Kasiah sued Crowd Systems, officer Carter and the board for injuries that allegedly were caused by the officer during a concert.

"On Sept. 27, 2013, appellant David Kasiah attended the Buzz Beach Ball concert in Kansas City, Missouri. While there, he engaged in several acts of 'crowd surfing.' ... Some time after one these crowd-surfing episodes, Kasiah was dancing behind a woman when he 'bumped into her.' The woman became upset and began yelling at him. Kasiah tried to ignore her, and, after a few seconds, they resumed their separate dancing," the ruling states.

"Kasiah then crowd surfed again, whereupon he returned and started dancing behind the woman. He bumped into her a second time, and she responded by yelling much more fiercely. After about 30 seconds of yelling, the woman turned to the man she was with and appeared to voice her frustration. She then ran off to talk to security personnel, and the man and Kasiah exchanged 'looks,'" the ruling said.

Carter, an off-duty Kansas City Police Department officer who was working as a security officer at the event, was standing behind a 5-foot-tall metal barrier between the stage and the crowd. He and another off-duty KCPD officer, Kevin White, were informed by a Crowd Systems employee that a fight between Kasiah and another man could break out.

"As White drew near, Carter spoke to one of the patrons who reported that Kasiah had been causing trouble all day. Carter then saw what he believed to be a 'disturbance in the crowd' caused by the two men and motioned for Kasiah to come to him. Kasiah walked toward Carter, who lunged to grab Kasiah as Kasiah got close enough. Kasiah avoided the grab and stepped or leaned back, away from Carter. The crowd suddenly surged forward, and Kasiah was pushed toward Carter. Carter then grabbed Kasiah by the shirt and the arm, made a slight adjustment to his grip, and proceeded, with White’s assistance, to pull Kasiah up and over the barrier," the ruling said.

While Kasiah was being pulled over the metal barrier, per the ruling, "White began to lose his grip," and "without White’s help to support Kasiah’s lower body, Carter lost his balance and began to fall from the platform."

Both men fell, and Kasiah fractured two vertebrae in his neck. He was later charged with disorderly conduct.

After the suit over allegations of assault, negligence and battery was filed by Kasiah, Carter and the board filed for summary judgment, claiming government immunity and that the officer did not use excessive force.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit case number 17-3588

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