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Armando Guzman, Sr., Department v. the City of New York and Raymond Kelly

July 7, 2011

ARMANDO GUZMAN, SR., DEPARTMENT,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK AND RAYMOND KELLY, COMMISSIONER, CITY OF NEW YORK POLICE
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Denise Cote, District Judge:

OPINION & ORDER

Plaintiff Armando Guzman, Sr. ("Guzman"), proceeding pro se, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against The City of New York ("the City") and Commissioner of Police Raymond Kelly ("Kelly"). Guzman alleges that the defendants violated his constitutional rights by, inter alia, failing to respond to allegations of police misconduct and promulgating official policies that promoted unconstitutional conduct by subordinates.

The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are taken from the plaintiff's complaint, and assumed to be true for the purposes of this motion. LaFaro v. New York Cardiothoracic Group, PLLC, 570 F.3d 471, 475 (2d Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). On July 9, 2007, Guzman was involved in a physical altercation with an unknown man, later identified as Felix Guzman ("FG," no relation to the plaintiff). Around midnight, FG attempted to enter the Guzman apartment. Initially rebuffed, FG returned brandishing a weapon. After a fight, Guzman ejected FG from the apartment. A short time later, when Guzman was outside his apartment complex, FG snuck up on him. In self-defense, Guzman struck FG a single time in the head. When FG fell back, hit his head on the sidewalk, and did not move, Guzman asked his family to call an ambulance.

The next day, New York City Police Department ("NYPD") detectives from the 48th Precinct went to the Guzman apartment to interview Guzman. Guzman learned of the visit and called the 48th Precinct to convey his intent to cooperate with the police. The same day, two NYPD detectives returned to the Guzman apartment and gained entry by threatening Guzman's young step- son. When Guzman's wife arrived, she told the detectives that Guzman would talk to them on his "own time table and not that of the police time table." The detectives then took Guzman's spouse and two other family members to the 48th Precinct for questioning. Guzman's family was not allowed anything to drink or given an opportunity to talk to an attorney.

On July 11, 2007, Guzman was arrested. On July 12, Guzman was charged with manslaughter in the first degree and assault in the first degree. The charge required "an intent to cause serious physical injury by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument." There was, however, no evidence that Guzman had used such a weapon when he struck FG. Guzman alleges that NYPD detectives, in collusion with Assistant District Attorney Danny Kraft ("Kraft"), gave false testimony. On August 3, Guzman was informed that a Grand Jury had indicted him with a single count of manslaughter in the first degree. Guzman was detained nearly three years.

On August 7, 2007, Guzman forwarded to the Bronx County District Attorney ("DA") Robert Johnson ("Johnson") a grievance filed with the Civilian Complaint Review Board regarding the NYPD's mistreatment of Guzman's family. Guzman later received threats that if he did not withdraw the grievance, his family would "undergo an unspecified form of hardship." The complaint does not specify how these threats were received or who might have sent them. Guzman immediately filed a grievance with the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division disciplinary panel against Kraft. On November 7, Guzman, having concluded that DA Johnson was covering up Kraft's misconduct, filed an application with the Office of the New York State Attorney General for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the NYPD detectives who had interviewed Guzman's family. On November 14, Guzman filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the NYPD seeking the names of the NYPD detectives who had interrogated his family. Guzman sent a copy of this request to Kelly but received no response from him. Guzman alleges that Kelly instructed an unnamed records access officer to withhold this information.

On January 5, 2008, Guzman filed a formal grievance with the NYPD directly addressed to Kelly. It demanded an investigation into collusion between the NYPD and the Bronx County DA's Office and the filing of false charges against Guzman. He never received a response from Kelly. Guzman alleges that Kelly pursued a cover-up.

On May 12, 2009, Guzman filed a grievance with the Chief of the Civil Rights Unit of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, alleging collusion between the NYPD and the Bronx County DA's Office to falsely charge Guzman.

On February 9, 2010, Guzman commenced this lawsuit, seeking injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and more than $30 million in compensatory, punitive, and special damages for his loss of liberty, financial support, and companionship to his family.

On July 14, this case was stayed pending the outcome of Guzman's criminal trial. In a December 13 letter, the defendants informed the Court that Guzman was acquitted at trial. On December 15, Guzman's claims of prosecutorial misconduct against Johnson were dismissed and Guzman was given until January 14, 2011 to submit any amended complaint. See Guzman v. City of New York, No. 10 Civ. 1048 (DLC), 2010 WL 5129066 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 15, 2010). In addition, an Order of December 16, 2010 directed Guzman to provide an up-to-date address to this Court's Pro Se Office.

Guzman did not file an amended complaint, nor did he update his address information. On February 13, the defendants moved for dismissal of all claims against the two remaining defendants. In an order dated February 28, Guzman's complaint was dismissed without prejudice for failure to prosecute.

On March 4, the Court received a letter dated January 2 from Guzman indicating that he wished to continue to pursue his claim. By an Order of March 8, the Court reopened the case and ordered Guzman to file any opposition to the defendants' ...


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