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Jenkins v. City of New York

December 8, 2005

PIERRE JENKINS A/K/A PIERRE BURTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, DETECTIVE WALTER MACK, DETECTIVE JEROME PARRINO, DETECTIVE STEVEN HUNTER, AND DETECTIVE ROBERT SCHULMAN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Glasser, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This civil rights action concerns the arrest and prosecution of plaintiff, Pierre Jenkins a/k/a Pierre Burton ("plaintiff" or "Jenkins"), for several robberies and a homicide in 1999. Plaintiff was indicted, incarcerated for nine months and then released after the charges against him were dismissed. In this action, he asserts federal and state constitutional claims and pendent state law claims against the following defendants: the City of New York (the "City"), the New York City Police Department ("NYPD"), and individual defendants, detectives Walter Mack ("Mack"), Jerome Parrino ("Parrino"), Steven Hunter ("Hunter") and Robert Schulman ("Schulman"). Pending before the Court is defendants' motion for summary judgment.

FACTS

After a contested hearing on February 15, 2000, Judge Michael R. Juviler of the Kings County Supreme Court made the following findings of fact regarding the circumstances surrounding plaintiff's arrest and subsequent detention, which this Court regards as definitive for purposes of this motion. On June 21, 1999, Alison Conte was the victim of a carjacking in Brooklyn, New York. During that incident, the perpetrator, who wielded a silver handgun, stole her ring and her red 1992 Honda Civic, which bore the license plate V143AU. See Bruzzese Aff. Ex. O at 219, ln. 20-25. Conte described the perpetrator to police as an African-American male, 5'8" tall, 140 pounds, with short black hair, black eyes and a beard and mustache.

On June 25, 1999, Keith Golden was robbed at gunpoint in Brooklyn by two African-American men who stole his necklace, watch and bracelet. Golden described one man as black, 30 years old, 5'10" tall, 175 pounds, with short black hair. He reported that the other individual was a black man, 30 years old, 6'3" tall, and weighed 200 pounds. Golden told the police that the two individuals fled the scene of the robbery in a maroon Honda bearing the license plate 314VAU.

Three days later, on June 28, 1999, David Diaz was killed by two black males in a schoolyard in Brooklyn. One eyewitness, Jason Chambers, told the police on June 29, 1999, that he saw two individuals, one of whom took out a small silver handgun while the other pulled a chain from Diaz's neck. Chambers described the first individual as male, black, approximately 5'9" to 5'10" tall with dark skin, a light beard and a slim build. He reported that the second individual was male, black, approximately 5'11" to 6' tall, weighed around 200 pounds and had short hair. A second witness to the shooting, George Richards, described one of the perpetrators as a 30-year-old black male, six feet tall and thin. He further stated that this man arrived at and left the scene in a red car, which he thought was a Honda. A third witness, Ivan Cueves, described one of the perpetrators as a black male, 33 to 35 years old, six feet tall, 150 pounds, with dark, short hair. Cueves reported that the second perpetrator was a black male, 5'10" tall, and 150 pounds. He described the car in which the two men fled as a red vehicle with a New York license plate that began with either "T14" or "714."

On July 5, 1999, Vinette Tummings reported that she was robbed in a similar area of Brooklyn by an African-American man with a silver handgun. Tummings described the perpetrator as a black male, 5'4" tall, 20 years old, with short black hair and a beard. She also reported that he fled in a red Honda bearing the license plate V143AU.

On July 8, 1999, Wilfredo Montes reported to the NYPD that he was robbed at gunpoint in Brooklyn by an African-American man who stole his necklace and his girlfriend's jewelry. He described the perpetrator as a black male, in his late 20s or early 30s, 5'8" to 5'9" tall, approximately 150 pounds, with a thin mustache and a black beard. Montes reported that the perpetrator fled in a red Honda with a license plate that included "V1436."

On July 9, 1999, Ellen Houston was the victim of a robbery in Brooklyn by two men, one of whom wielded a small silver gun. The men stole her purse and her rings and then fled in a red Honda Civic. She described one perpetrator as black, 16 years old, 5'7" tall, 150 pounds, with short brown hair and brown eyes and the other as a black man, 16 years old, 5'8" tall, 160 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

On July 12, 1999, Nancy and Judy Lorrient were the victims of an attempted car-jacking by two men, one of whom had a silver gun. Nancy Lorrient described one perpetrator as a black male in his twenties, 5'6" to 5'8" tall and the other as a black male in his twenties, 5'6" to 5'8" tall, with dreadlocks and a short thin beard.

The NYPD conducted investigations into the various crimes. Detective Mack investigated the homicide of Diaz and Detective Parrino investigated the series of robberies, termed "Robbery Pattern 101." On July 13, 1999, the police recovered Conte's car in Brooklyn, New York. They lifted a fingerprint from the car, which belonged to Derrick Blyther ("Blyther"). They also found Houston's stolen property, which she identified as hers on July 15. Once they had Blyther's fingerprint, the police were able to determine his address and obtain a photograph of him. They included that photograph in a photo array and, on July 14, 1999, Montes positively identified Blyther as the individual who robbed him on July 8, 1999.

At around 5:00 a.m. on July 15, 1999, detectives Hunter and Schulman and non-parties Detective Ferro and Sargent Amodeo, wearing plainclothes, went with members of the Brooklyn Robbery Squad to Blyther's apartment at 1280 St. John's Place in Brooklyn to arrest him without a warrant. The detectives knocked on the door of the apartment and announced "Police." No one answered and the officers then heard a commotion inside the apartment. The door was opened from within the apartment and a man ran into the hallway. That man was Blyther, whose photograph one of the officers present had examined. The detectives tackled and handcuffed him. Immediately thereafter, another man -- the plaintiff in this case -- came running out. The officers grabbed plaintiff, arrested him and then took him and Blyther in custody to the precinct.

With Blyther and plaintiff in custody, Detective Mack conducted a lineup on July 15, which included Blyther and five fillers. The three witnesses to the shooting of Diaz viewed the lineups. Chambers and Cueves did not identify anyone in the lineup, but, when Richards viewed the lineup at 10:15 a.m, he identified Blyther as the man who came into the schoolyard when Diaz was killed. Detective Mack conducted another lineup, which included plaintiff and five fillers. At 10:30 a.m., Chambers viewed the lineup and identified plaintiff as the man with the gun in the schoolyard. Cueves and Richards separately viewed that lineup, but identified no one.

Also on July 15, the detectives investigating Robbery Pattern 101 conducted lineups that included Blyther and plaintiff. Several of the witnesses who viewed Blyther's lineup identified him as the man who robbed them. At 11:00 a.m., Nancy Lorrient viewed a lineup that included plaintiff, but did not identify him as having been involved in the attempted carjacking. A few minutes later, Judy Lorrient viewed plaintiff's lineup, but she, too, made no identification. At 6:00 p.m. that day, the police conducted another set of lineups. In one lineup, Tummings identified plaintiff as the person who robbed her. Shortly thereafter, at 6:20, Golden also identified plaintiff in a lineup. At around 6:30, Houston viewed a lineup that included plaintiff, but did not make an identification.

On July 15, 1999, Mack charged plaintiff and Blyther with Murder in the First Degree, Robbery in the First Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree in connection with Diaz's homicide. Def. 56.1 Statement ¶ 100. On or about July 16, 1999, plaintiff was arraigned on the following counts: Murder in the Second Degree in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 125.25(1); Murder in the Second Degree in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 125.25(2); Murder in the Second Degree in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 125.25(3); Murder in the First Degree in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 125.27; Robbery in the First Degree in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 160.15; and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 265.03 in connection with Diaz's murder. See id. ¶ 108.

Assistant District Attorney Stan Irvin ("A.D.A. Irvin") determined that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute plaintiff on the robbery and homicide charges based on his review of the police reports and witnesses' accounts of the crimes. Id. ¶ 112. On July 19, 1999, A.D.A. Irvin presented Diaz's homicide to the Grand Jury, which heard testimony from, among others, Chambers and detectives Mack and Parrino. Id. ¶ 116. On July 28, 1999, the Grand Jury returned a True Bill with respect to the homicide charge and plaintiff was indicted on one count of Murder in the First Degree, three counts of Murder in the Second Degree, four counts of Robbery in the First Degree, two counts of ...


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