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Pierre v. City of New York

August 17, 2007

DELPHINE PIERRE, AS MOTHER AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF CHRISTOPHER SYLLA, AND COLLEEN GLASGOW, AS MOTHER AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF ANDREW GLASGOW, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, POLICE OFFICER JOHN HACHADOORIAN, SERGEANT MICHAEL WHITE, AND POLICE OFFICERS JOHN AND JANE DOES #1-10, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph F. Bianco, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

On October 27, 2005, plaintiffs Delphine Pierre, mother and natural guardian of Christopher Sylla, and Colleen Glasgow, mother and natural guardian of Andrew Glasgow (collectively, "plaintiffs"), commenced the instant civil rights action against defendants the City of New York, New York Police Department ("NYPD") Officer John Hachadoorian ("Officer Hachadoorian"), NYPD Sergeant Michael White ("Sgt. White"), and NYPD Officers John and Jane Does #1-10*fn1 (collectively, "defendants"), alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and malicious abuse of process, as well as a claim of municipal liability.

On January 19, 2007, defendants moved for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

The following facts are taken from the parties' depositions, declarations, exhibits and respective Local 56.1 statements of facts.*fn2 Upon consideration of a motion for summary judgment, the Court construes the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Capobianco v. City of New York, 422 F.3d 47, 50 (2d Cir. 2005). Thus, with regard to defendants' motion for summary judgment, the Court shall construe the facts in favor of plaintiffs.

On March 12, 2003, Showkat Hussein ("Hussein") purchased food at a deli in Astoria, Queens. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶¶ 10-11.) When Hussein exited the deli, he was carrying the food in a package. (Id. ¶ 11.) Immediately after Hussein exited the store, five or six teenagers surrounded him. (Id. ¶ 12.) One of the teenagers was carrying a fourfoot-long metal stick. (Id.) The individual carrying the stick raised it above Hussein's head and tried to hit Hussein. (Id.) Another teenager said, "Motherf***** Indian, give me what you have." (Id.) Hussein threw his package of food at the teenagers and said "All I have is this." (Id. ¶ 15.) Hussein then ran towards his car, which was parked one or two blocks from the deli. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16.) Hussein got into his car, locked the doors, and called 911. (Id. ¶ 17.)

According to defendants, Hussein told the 911 operator that he had been robbed by a group of boys, one of whom tried to hit him with a metal rod. (Id. ¶ 18.) Hussein also allegedly told the 911 operator that he had thrown his food at the teenagers after they asked him to give them all he had. (Id. ¶ 19.) Defendants further alleged that Hussein told the 911 operator that he needed help and that he was concerned that the teenagers would cause other problems. (Id. ¶ 20.) Plaintiffs dispute that Hussein made any of these statements to the 911 operator. (Pl.'s Response to Defs.' 56.1, ¶¶ 18-20.)

From his car, Hussein could see the deli and the teenagers who had surrounded and threatened him. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 21.) He continued to watch the teenagers walk down the street together. (Id. ¶ 22.) While the teenagers were approximately one-and-a-half blocks away from Hussein, and while Hussein was still on the phone with the 911 operator, he decided to exit his car and follow the teenagers on foot. (Id. ¶ 23.) According to Hussein, he was trying to follow the teenagers so that he could identify them to the police. (Id. ¶ 24.) The 911 operator asked for the location of the teenagers, and Hussein continuously updated her as he followed them. (Id. ¶ 25.) Hussein remained on the phone with the 911 operator until a police vehicle arrived. (Id. ¶ 26.)

At the same time, Officer Hachadoorian and Sgt. White, plainclothes officers, were driving in an unmarked police vehicle. (Id. ¶ 27.) At approximately 4:30 p.m., the officers received radio notification of a robbery in progress at 35th Street and 30th Avenue in Queens, New York. (Id. ¶ 28.) The radio notification was the result of Hussein's 911 call. (Id. ¶ 29.) When the officers arrived at 35th Street and 30th Avenue, a marked police car had already arrived, and was being flagged down by Hussein. (Id. ¶ 30.) The marked police car turned on its lights and the teenagers began to run. (Id. ¶ 31.) Hussein then told the police officers "[t]hose are them, the boys," and he pointed in the direction that the teenagers were running. (Id.) Officer Hachadoorian and Sgt. White exited their police vehicle and interviewed Hussein. (Id. ¶ 32.)

Hussein told the police officers what had happened, and said that he had seen all of the teenagers who were involved in the incident. (Id. ¶¶ 33-35.) Hussein also stated that he knew in which direction the teenagers had gone because he had followed them for a distance of three to four blocks. (Id. ¶ 36.) According to Hussein, when the teenagers ran, they split into approximately three groups. (Id. ¶ 37.) One group ran to the stairs of the 7 subway train, another group ran to a public bus stop, and a third group ran northbound on the street. (Id. ¶ 38.) Hussein then led Officer Hachadoorian and Sgt. White to a public bus located about one to two blocks away from where the officers initially spoke to Hussein. (Id. ¶ 39.) Hussein saw some of the teenagers who had surrounded him get onto a public bus. (Id. ¶ 40.) Hussein told Officer Hachadoorian and Sgt. White that he had seen the teenagers get onto the bus, and ran onto the bus. (Id. ¶ 41.) The officers then followed Hussein onto the bus. (Id. ¶ 42.) Hussein initially did not see the teenagers, but as he moved towards the rear of the bus, he saw them trying to hide from him. (Id. ¶ 43.) According to Hussein, he was able to recognize the teenagers' faces, the color of their clothing, and their individual shirts, jackets, pants, shoes, hats and hair styles. (Id.) On the bus, Hussein pointed out to the officers three of the teenagers who had allegedly threatened and robbed him. (Id. ¶ 44.) These three individuals were Peter Yannah ("Yannah"), Andre Riley ("Riley"), and plaintiff Andrew Glasgow ("Glasgow").*fn3 (Id. ¶ 45.) Hussein told Officer Hachadoorian that he recognized the teenagers from their faces and clothing. (Id. ¶ 46.) Hussein also identified Riley as the teenager who had been holding the metal rod.*fn4 (Id. ¶ 47.) The officers asked Yannah, Riley and Glasgow to get off the bus with them.*fn5 (Id. ¶ 48.) Hussein also exited the bus. (Id. ¶ 49.) Outside of the bus, Officer Hachadoorian again asked Hussein whether he was sure that the teenagers whom he had identified on the bus were the same ones who had been involved in the earlier incident, and Hussein stated that they were the same individuals. (Id. ¶ 50.) Yannah, Riley and Glasgow were then placed under arrest. (Id. ¶ 51.) After the three individuals were handcuffed, Officer Hachadoorian again asked Hussein whether he was sure that these were the same teenagers who had threatened him. (Id. ¶ 52.) Hussein responded "[y]es, they were. Yes, they were, but there are still more." (Id.)

After Yannah, Riley and Glasgow were handcuffed, Officer Hachadoorian and Sgt. White returned to their unmarked police car and began to canvass the area for other individuals who matched the description of those who had attacked Hussein. (Id. ¶ 54.) The officers drove in the direction in which Hussein had indicated that the individuals fled. (Id. ¶ 55.) According to plaintiffs, while the officers were driving around the area, Christopher Sylla ("Sylla") entered his firstfloor apartment, on Newtowne Avenue, with a friend, Shannon McBean ("McBean"), with whom he had left school that afternoon. (Sylla Deposition, at 61.) Sylla and McBean then heard banging on the door. (Id. at 62.) McBean went to investigate, and returned to tell Sylla that police officers had asked him to come outside. (Id. at 63-64.) Sylla walked outside of the building, where he was confronted by Officer Hachadoorian and Sgt. White.*fn6 (Id. at 64.) A marked police van and a marked police vehicle arrived at Sylla's building, and another officer or officers brought Hussein over to where Sylla, McBean, Officer Hachadoorian and Sgt. White were standing. (Id. ¶¶ 57-58.) Officer Hachadoorian asked Hussein to look at Sylla and McBean, and to tell him if either one had been involved in the earlier incident. (Id. ¶ 59.) Hussein identified only one of the teenagers, Sylla, as having been involved in the incident. (Id. ¶ 60.) According to Hussein, he remembered seeing Sylla's face. (Id.) Officer Hachadoorian then asked Hussein to double-check to make sure that they had the right individual, and to make sure that McBean had not been involved. (Id. ¶ 61.) Hussein assured Officer Hachadoorian that McBean had not been involved, and that Sylla had been involved. (Id.) Sylla was placed under arrest and transported to the 114th Precinct. (Id. ¶ 62.)

Sylla told his mother, Delphine Pierre ("Pierre") that he had been around 30th Avenue and 31st Street, when he saw some teenagers being "loud." (Id. ¶ 66.) Sylla also told Pierre that he saw an individual waving a stick at a man, and that Sylla saw the man open his cell phone, but that he did not know who the man had called. (Id.) Sylla told his mother that he had explained to the police that he had witnessed the incident with Hussein, but was not part of the group of people who threatened him. (Id. ¶ 72.)

Glasgow testified that, on the date of the incident, he had walked to a bus stop from school with Yannah and Riley. (Id. ¶ 67.) Glasgow stated that, after he got onto the bus with Yannah and Riley, police came onto the bus with an Indian man who pointed out Riley and Yannah, who were both standing, and said "[t]hat is them." (Id. ¶ 69.) Glasgow also stated that, after Riley and Yannah got off the bus, the Indian man looked around the bus, pointed at Glasgow, who was seated, and said "[t]hat is him too." (Id. ¶ 70.) Colleen Glasgow, Glasgow's mother, testified that her son told her that he and his friends had been horsing around and running towards the bus when they saw it approaching. (Id. ¶ 73.) Colleen Glasgow had told Officer Hachadoorian that her son was friends with both Sylla and Yannah. (Id. ¶ 74.)

Hussein met with a prosecutor who took a statement from him, which he signed. (Id. ¶ 77.) On March 24, 2003, a Family Court Complaint was signed and sworn by Hussein against Sylla, Glasgow and Yannah. (Id. ¶ 68; Hazan Decl., Ex. 16.) On April 1, 2003, an initial conference was held with regard to Sylla and Glasgow. (Defs.' 56.1 ¶ 79.) Sylla and Glasgow were each charged with "an act that would be Robbery in the Second Degree if either were an adult." (Id.) On May 4, 2005, Judge Fran L. Lubow dismissed both cases. (Id. ¶ 80.)

B. Procedural History

Plaintiffs filed this action on October 27, 2005, naming the City of New York, Officer Hachadoorian, and Police Officer John and Jane Does #1-10. On January 28, 2006, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, adding Sgt. White as a defendant and alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988, and under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments for false arrest, malicious prosecution, malicious abuse of process and municipal liability. On January 19, 2007, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Oral argument was held on July 9, 2007.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The standards for summary judgment are well-settled. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a court may not grant a motion for summary judgment unless "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Globecon Group, LLC v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co., 434 F.3d 165, 170 (2d Cir. 2006). The moving party bears the burden of showing that he or she is entitled to summary judgment. See Huminski v. Corsones, 396 F.3d 53, 69 (2d Cir. 2005). The court "is not to weigh the evidence but is instead required to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment, to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of that party, and to eschew credibility assessments." Amnesty Am. v. Town of West Hartford, 361 F.3d 113, 122 (2d Cir. 2004); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) (summary judgment is unwarranted if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party").

Once the moving party has met its burden, the opposing party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts . . . . [T]he nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Caldarola v. Calabrese, 298 F.3d 156, 160 (2d Cir. 2002) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed. 2d 538 (1986)). As the Supreme Court stated in Anderson, "[i]f the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted). Indeed, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties" alone will not defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Id. at 247-48. Thus, the nonmoving party may not rest upon mere conclusory allegations or denials, but must set forth "concrete particulars" showing that a trial is needed. R.G. Group, Inc. v. Horn & Hardart Co., 751 F.2d 69, 77 (2d Cir. 1984) (internal quotations ...


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