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Mazyck v. Johnson

August 22, 2009

WILBUR MAZYCK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ONDRE JOHNSON, DENNIS BERRIOS, RAYMOND KELLY, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT ("NYPD"), THE CITY OF NEW YORK, CATHERINE SCROOP, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF KING'S COUNTY, CHARLES HYNES, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF KING'S COUNT, MARTIN HORN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, ALAN VEGERSKY, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS CAPACITY AS ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, AND THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sifton, Senior Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Wilbur Mazyck ("Mazyck") commenced this action against Ondre Johnson, individually and in his capacity as a detective or officer of the New York City Police Department ("Johnson"), Dennis Berrios, individually and in his official capacity as a detective or officer ("Berrios") (collectively, "defendants"), and several other defendants on February 8, 2008.*fn1 Only Johnson and Berrios remain in the case.*fn2 Mazyck alleged the following claims for relief against Johnson and Berrios: (1) false arrest in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment; (2) malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) conspiracy to violate plaintiff's constitutional rights against unreasonable searches, seizure, and detention, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Only the malicious prosecution claim remains.*fn3 Plaintiff seeks compensatory, special, and punitive damages, attorneys' fees, and costs. On July 21, 2009, I denied a motion by defendants Berrios and Johnson for summary judgment from the bench. Now before the Court is a motion for reconsideration by defendants. For the reasons stated below, the motion for reconsideration is granted, and, upon reconsideration, summary judgment is again denied.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the parties' submissions in connection with the motion for summary judgment. Disputes are noted.

This case arises from an incident in which plaintiff was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. Following his arrest, plaintiff was fired from his job at the New York City Department of Correction ("DOC"). Plaintiff alleges that defendants maliciously prosecuted him. Defendants respond that plaintiff was appropriately arrested and prosecuted for carrying an unregistered and unlicensed weapon. A more detailed account of events follows.

On October 8, 2003, plaintiff received a call from the King's County Hospital regarding difficulties the Hospital was having in admitting his brother.*fn4 Deposition of Wilbur Mazyck, taken January 22, 2009, at 56-57. Plaintiff left home with a .38 caliber firearm, his DOC shield, and his DOC identification card. Id. at 58-59. He placed the gun in a holster that he wore on his back. Id. at 60. Plaintiff's girlfriend Shameeka Aiken ("Aiken") and her child were in the vehicle with plaintiff. Id. at 61. On the way home from the hospital, while plaintiff was driving on Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, two adolescents slapped his car as he drove through an intersection. Id. at 65, 74. Plaintiff stopped his car to confront the adolescents, who ran down the sidewalk. Id. at 72. As plaintiff stepped out of his car, he dropped his cell phone on the ground, which he bent down to pick up. Id. at 72, 75. One of the adolescents yelled "he has a gun," after which officers Johnson and Barrios, members of the North Brooklyn Gang Unit, exited an unmarked police vehicle across the street and approached plaintiff. Id. at 77. Johnson stopped plaintiff in the street, frisked him, handcuffed him, and placed him in a police car. Id. at 85-86. Plaintiff told Johnson that he was a corrections officer and that his shield and identification were in the glove compartment of his car. Id. at 87, 93-94. The officers drove the police car and plaintiff's car around the corner. Id. at 86. The officers asked plaintiff if he was carrying a weapon; plaintiff said yes, and handed it to Johnson.*fn5 Id. at 88, 90. Johnson reviewed plaintiff's identification and noted that it read "No Firearm" on it. Deposition of Ondre Johnson taken March 18, 2009 at 16.

The officers transported plaintiff to the 81st Precinct where he was processed for carrying an illegal weapon. Id. at 97-98. DOC was notified of the arrest and a DOC representative came to the 81st precinct. Id. at 105-106. On October 9, Johnson transported plaintiff to Brooklyn Central Booking where he was arraigned. Id. at 108-9. Defendant Barrios signed the Criminal Complaint against plaintiff, in which Barrios attested that he "recovered a 38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver from defendant's waistband." Stockman Decl. Ex. N. Plaintiff spent two days in jail following his arraignment. Mazyck Dep. at 111.

At the time of his arrest, plaintiff was not permitted to carry a firearm by DOC or any other authority. Mazyck Dep. at 94-95. The firearm was not registered. Id. at 195. Also at the time of his arrest, plaintiff was on probation with DOC. Stockman Decl. Ex. D. Plaintiff was suspended from employment from October 9, 2003, to October 24, 2003, after which he was permitted to return to work. Stockman Decl. Ex. H. DOC terminated plaintiff's employment on December 3, 2003. In its decision to terminate plaintiff's employment, DOC stated that plaintiff had been arrested for possession of a firearm that he did not have authorization to carry.*fn6

Procedural History

On September 27, 2004, Criminal Court Judge Lopez-Torres held a hearing to determine whether the firearm discovered on plaintiff's person should be suppressed. On January 21, 2005, Judge Lopez-Torres issued a written decision finding that the arrest was unlawful and granting the motion to suppress. Judge Lopez-Torres stated, "[a]s the officer acknowledged during his testimony, before he found the gun, Mr. Mazyck had not engaged in any illegal conduct and had not violated any law. Therefore, [arresting Mr. Mazyck] constituted an unreasonable search and seizure... in violation of his Fourth Amendment [rights]." Stockman Decl, Ex. I, p. 3. On February 9, 2005, the case against plaintiff was dismissed on motion of the District Attorney's Office.

Plaintiff filed this action on February 8, 2008. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff had failed to establish the elements of his malicious prosecution claim, that plaintiff had suffered no injury as a result of the prosecution, and that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. On July 21, 2009, I denied the motion from the bench, stating that there were material issues of fact as to the sequence of events that led to the arrest and whether plaintiff was arrested before the weapon was found. Defendants timely filed a motion seeking reconsideration of my ruling on the ground that plaintiff had failed to establish the elements of his malicious prosecution claim.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard for Motion for Reconsideration

Civil motions for reconsideration in this District are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) and Local Civil Rule 6.3.*fn7 Reconsideration is appropriate in light of an intervening change of controlling law, the availability of new evidence, the need to correct a clear error, or to prevent manifest injustice. See Doe v. New York City Dept. of Social Servs., 709 F.2d 782, 789 (2d Cir. 1983). Additionally, reconsideration is appropriate where a court misinterprets or misapplies relevant case law in ...


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