On Dec. 27, 2004, Centerville police officer Terry Ware was transporting Heather Breland following her arrest on forgery charges when he sexually assaulted her in the front seat of his cruiser. Ware was prosecuted for the assault and sentenced to prison.
Breland sued the city for negligent training and supervision, negligent hiring and retention, and breach of duty. Judge C. Ashley Royal, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division, noted that a municipality couldn’t be held liable for employees’ actions unless a policy or custom of the municipality is the “moving force” behind the violation.
Breland argued that the municipality should have trained Ware to transport arrestees in the back seat. The city countered that because he was driving a K-9 unit vehicle that lacked a back seat, Ware’s training gave him discretion to transport arrestees in the front. Breland also argued that the city should not have hired Ware because he had been discharged from the Fort Valley Police Department for misconduct.
But the judge ruled that Ware’s “record of being rude, insubordinate and rash did not make it foreseeable to Centerville that he would inflict the sort of harm he inflicted on” Breland. He granted summary judgment to Centerville.
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