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QUILES v. CITY OF NEW YORK

August 13, 2003

MIGUEL QUILES, PLAINTIFF -AGAINST- THE CITY OF NEW YORK, DETECTIVE JOSEPH MIRAGLIA, DETECTIVE GILBERT LUGO, AND THE UNITED STATES, DEFENDANTS


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Laura Taylor Swain, District Judge [ Page 2]

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pro se plaintiff Miguel Quiles ("Plaintiff') has filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988, seeking compensation for alleged violations of his constitutional rights arising from his arrest, questioning by the police on January 16, 1997 in Coamo, Puerto Rico, and subsequent prosecution on murder charges. The only remaining defendants in this action are the City of New York, Detectives Joseph Miraglia and Gilbert Lugo of the New York City Police Department (hereinafter "City Defendants"), and the United States.*fn1 The City of New York and Detectives Miraglia and Lugo have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The United States has moved to dismiss Plaintiffs complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn2 For the reasons stated below, both motions are granted and Plaintiff's action is dismissed in its entirety. [ Page 3]

BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed, except where otherwise noted. Plaintiff Miguel Quiles, a Hispanic male who was born on December 19, 1972, is about 5'8" tall and weighs approximately 150 pounds.*fn3 See Deposition Transcript of Miguel Quiles, Ex. B to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Quiles Dep.") at 6, 8, 12. Plaintiff's street name is "Skinny Mike." See id. at 34. On December 21, 1990, Juan Soto, who was also known as "Pito" (hereinafter "Pito"), was shot dead inside a pool hall at 447 Morris Park Avenue in Bronx, New York. See Ex. J to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. Witnesses at the scene of the murder described the shooter as a Hispanic male, see id., and the next day a pool hall employee identified the shooter as a Hispanic male between 5'8" and 5'10" tall, see Ex. K to City Defs' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. On May 1, 1991, another witness to the shooting stated to the police that the shooter was an Hispanic male, 19 years old, known to him as "Skinny Mike." The witness identified a photo of Miguel Quiles as the person known to him as "Skinny Mike." See Ex. L to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J.

On October 16, 1995, a cousin of Pito informed Detective Miraglia that he had been in the pool hall when Pito was shot and had seen "Skinny Mike" run out of the pool hall with a gun in his hand. The cousin also identified a photo of Miguel Quiles as depicting "Skinny Mike." See Ex. M to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. On October 10, 1995, a witness told the police that, in early 1991, he had heard Miguel Quiles, also known as "Skinny Mike," say that he killed Pito. See Ex. N to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. On October 12, 1995, [ Page 4]

Detective Miraglia interviewed a witness who stated that, five to six months after Pito's murder, he had heard "Skinny Mike" say that he had killed Pito. The latter witness identified a photo of Miguel Quiles as depicting "Skinny Mike." See Ex. O to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. In November 1996, Detective Lugo was assigned to locate and apprehend Miguel Quiles, who was by then wanted for Pito's murder. See Lugo Criminal Trial Testimony, Ex. I to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. ("Lugo Test.") at 264. After some investigation, Detective Lugo learned that a Miguel Quiles was living in Puerto Rico. See id. at 268. On January 16, 1997, Detectives Lugo and Miraglia, along with a special agent from the Drug Enforcement Agency ("DEA"), flew to Puerto Rico and located Plaintiff in the city of Coamo. See id. at 269. With their guns drawn, the detectives told Plaintiff to freeze and placed him in handcuffs. See Am. Compl. ¶ 4. The detectives had no warrant for Plaintiff's arrest.*fn4 Id. ¶ 6. The detectives drove Plaintiff to a local police station and brought him into a room for questioning. See id. ¶ 4; Lugo Test. at 271-72. At some time in that room, Detective Miraglia composed a written statement indicating, inter alia , that Plaintiff had confessed to shooting Pito in the pool hall. Detectives Miraglia and Lugo both signed the statement, but Plaintiff did not. See Lugo Test. at 278-80, 285; Ex. P to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J.

The parties present different versions of what transpired during questioning. According to Plaintiff, three persons were in the questioning room with him: Detective Lugo, Detective Miraglia, and the special agent from the DEA. Detectives Lugo and Miraglia started asking [ Page 5]

Plaintiff questions, but Plaintiff told them that he would not answer any questions without a lawyer present. See Am. Compl. ¶ 4. When the detectives ignored his comment and continued to ask him questions, Plaintiff refused to answer. See id. At one point Plaintiff asked whether he could leave, but the detectives answered "no". See Quiles Dep. at 80-81. Detective Lugo then said: "You know you did it, just say it was self defense." See Am. Compl. ¶ 4. Plaintiff responded that he had not done anything and that they had the wrong person. See id.

Plaintiff further alleges that, when he refused to answer questions, Detective Lugo told him that, if he did not cooperate, the DEA special agent was going to have a seat across from Plaintiff and was not "going to be nice." See id. When Plaintiff kept silent, the DEA agent said to him: "Oh, you want to be a wise guy." See id. The special agent then stood up, handcuffed Plaintiff's hands behind his chair, and said: "So, you don't want to cooperate." See id. Plaintiff replied that he wanted to call his lawyer, upon which the agent began punching Plaintiff in the stomach. When Plaintiff was out of breath and crying, Detective Miraglia told the agent to stop. See id. Detective Lugo removed Plaintiffs handcuffs; Detective Miraglia handed Plaintiff the written statement and told him to sign it. When Plaintiff responded that he would not be tricked into signing anything, Detective Miraglia said, "shut the fuck up and come over here." See id.Detective Miraglia then took Plaintiff to another room, sat him down, and continued to ask him questions. Plaintiff told the detective that he did not want to talk, upon which the detectives finally ceased their questioning. See id.

City Defendants deny Plaintiff's allegations as to what transpired during questioning. See Ans. of Defs. Joseph Miraglia and Gilbert Lugo ¶ 4; Ans. of Def. City of New York ¶ 4. According to City Defendants, Plaintiff voluntarily made incriminating statements implicating [ Page 6]

himself in Pito's murder. These statements were recorded in the written statement signed by Detectives Miraglia and Lugo. See City Defs.' Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. at 4.

What transpired after the questioning is undisputed. On January 17, 1997, a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest was issued in New York. See Ex. D to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. On that same day, Plaintiff was indicted in Bronx County for Murder in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree.*fn5 See Ex. E to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. Plaintiff, who had been brought before a judge in Puerto Rico and had been given a lawyer, waived extradition and was brought to New York on or about February 1997. See Quiles Dep. at 121. After Plaintiff had been appointed an attorney and was released on bail, the Bronx County District Attorney's Office moved successfully to have Plaintiff remanded on January 6, 1999. See Remand Hearing, Ex. R to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. On November 21, 2000, following a jury trial, Plaintiff was acquitted on all charges. See Ex. S to City Defs.' Notice of Mot. for Summ. J. On October 29, 2001, Plaintiff initiated this civil action.

DISCUSSION

I. Plaintiff's claims against City ...


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