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Edmond Gaston v. the City of New York

April 2, 2012

EDMOND GASTON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Andrew J. Peck, United States Magistrate Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Edmond Gaston, represented by counsel, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983 against the City of New York and Detective James George, alleging violations of his constitutional rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and under state law. (Dkt. No. 6: Am. Compl.) Gaston asserts claims of false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution under § 1983, as well as false arrest, false imprisonment and negligent hiring, training and supervision under state law. (Am. Compl.)*fn1

Presently before the Court is defendants' summary judgment motion. (Dkt. No. 20: Defs. Notice of Motion; see also Dkt. No. 25: Defs. Br.; Dkt. No. 32: Defs. Reply Br.) The parties have consented to decision of this case by a Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Dkt. No. 15.)

For the reasons set forth below, defendants' summary judgment motion is GRANTED.

FACTS

At 1:35 a.m. on November 4, 2010, B.D. left work and walked down Soundview Avenue in the Bronx to a check cashing establishment. (Dkt. No. 22: George Aff. ¶ 6(a); Dkt. No. 24: Defs. Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 16(a); Dkt. No. 28: Gaston Br. Ex. 1: Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 16(a); see also Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 71(a).) After obtaining $40, B.D. walked towards the James Monroe Houses to purchase marijuana. (George Aff. ¶ 6(b); Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 16(b).) B.D. noticed a white SUV following her as she walked. (Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 16(c).) At 2:15 a.m., a man approached B.D. from behind while she was in the development's courtyard. (George Aff. ¶ 6(b)-(c); Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 16(d); see also Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 71(c).) The man was holding an object concealed in a plastic bag and stated "'Come with me or I'll shoot you. The gun has a silencer.'" (Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 16(d)-(e); see also Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 78.) B.D. believed that the concealed object was a weapon. (Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 16(d).) The man forced B.D. into a white SUV, drove her to a secluded portion of Bruckner Plaza and forcibly raped her. (George Aff. ¶ 6(c); Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 16(f); see also Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 71(e).) The man took B.D.'s money and iPod, ordered her out of the SUV, and told her to count to fifty while he fled. (George Aff. ¶ 6(d); Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 16(g)-(h).) B.D. called her mother at approximately 2:40 a.m. and told her what happened. (George Aff. ¶ 6(e); Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 16(i).)

At 4:30 a.m., B.D. reported the rape to the 43rd Precinct. (Dkt. No. 23: Evans Aff. ¶ 3; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 8; see also Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 70.) Detectives John Evans and Scott Manga interviewed B.D. at 5:30 a.m. at Jacobi Hospital. (Evans Aff. ¶ 4; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 9.) Later that morning, Detective James George was assigned as lead detective investigating the rape. (Dkt. No. 21: Krasnow 1/27/12 Aff. Ex. G: George Dep. at 14*fn2 ; George Aff. ¶ 2; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 12.) Dets. Evans and Manga informed Det. George that B.D. said she was raped inside a vehicle at Bruckner Plaza and that a gun might have been involved. (George Dep. at 16; Evans Aff. ¶ 5; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 12-13.) During an interview at 10:05 a.m. inside the Bronx Special Victim's Unit, B.D. told Det. George about the rape and described the perpetrator as "a black male, approximately 40-45 years old, wearing a sweatshirt with a hood." (George Dep. at 18-19, 21-24; George Aff. ¶ 6; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 16(a)-(i), 18; see also Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 73.)

Based on B.D.'s description and the crime location, Det. George created photo arrays using NYPD's Photo Manager system. (George Dep. at 25-28, 135-37; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 20-21.)*fn3 Det. George showed B.D. the photo arrays, each containing six photos, and asked her to "let him know if she recognized anyone that could help with the investigation." (George Dep. at 34-35, 38-39; George Aff. ¶ 7; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 22-23.) After viewing photo arrays for thirty minutes, B.D. identified an individual as the rapist and started crying. (George Dep. at 38, 40; George Aff. ¶ 7 & Ex. J; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 24-25.) Outside of B.D.'s presence, Det. George determined that B.D. had identified plaintiff Edmond Gaston, a 45-year old black male who was a registered sex offender for a previous sex abuse and forcible touching conviction. (George Aff. ¶ 9; George Dep. at 43-44; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶26-27.) After obtaining Gaston's last-known address from the Sexual Offender Monitoring Unit, Det. George realized that Gaston "lived less than half a mile from the scene of the abduction and approximately one mile from the scene of the assault." (George Dep. at 44-45; George Aff. ¶¶ 10-12; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 28-29.)

Later that day, Det. George and Sergeant Kevin Hoare went to Gaston's last-known address to bring him in for a lineup. (George Dep. at 44, 47; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 30.) Det. George noticed three white SUVs parked near Gaston's address. (George Dep. at 130, 167-68; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 31.) Gaston's wife Rosenie Edmond informed Det. George that Gaston was at work and that on the previous night, Gaston had returned home from work at 3:00 a.m. (George Dep. at 47-48, 52; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 32-34; Dkt. No. 29: Edmond Aff. ¶¶ 4-6.)*fn4 After Edmond called and told Gaston that the police were looking for him, Gaston left work and went to his attorney's office. (Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 35-36.) Gaston informed Det. George that he had retained counsel and could be picked up at his attorney's office. (Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 37; see also Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 87.) Det. George picked up Gaston and drove Gaston and Edmond to the Bronx Special Victim's Unit. (George Dep. at 52-53, 56; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 38-39, 43; Edmond Aff. ¶ 12; Dkt. No. 30: Prestia Aff. Ex. A: Gaston Dep. at 65, 68.) While obtaining Gaston's pedigree information, Det. George noticed that Gaston spoke with an accent. (George Dep. at 149; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 46.) Det. George prepared the lineup, letting Gaston pick his own seat and making Gaston and the fillers wear black stocking caps. (George Dep. at 67, 72; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 45, 48, 50-51; Gaston Dep. at 70.) After B.D. viewed the lineup and identified Gaston as the man who attacked her, Det. George arrested Gaston for forcible rape, unlawful imprisonment and weapons possession. (George Dep. at 74-75, 78; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 52, 54.)

Det. George completed the arrest paperwork and met with an Assistant District Attorney to draft and sign a felony complaint based on B.D.'s allegations. (George Dep. at 80-81; George Aff. ¶ 13; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 55-57; see also Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 113.)*fn5 Gaston was remanded at his November 5, 2010 arraignment and remained in custody for eight days. (Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 58; Gaston Dep. at 78-79; Dkt. No. 33: Krasnow 3/2/12 Aff. Ex. A: Gaston 50-H Hearing Tr. 21.)

After being released, Gaston and his attorney met with two Assistant District Attorneys and told them that Gaston had returned home from work that night at approximately 2:20 a.m. and that he used public transportation because he did not have a car. (Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 59-60; Gaston Dep. at 48, 80-82.)*fn6 One of the prosecutors wrote the word "silencer" on a piece of paper and asked Gaston to pronounce it; Gaston pronounced it with the French pronunciation "silencie." (Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶¶ 61-62; Gaston Dep. at 83-84.)

The Bronx District Attorney's Office dismissed the charges against Gaston on February 23, 2011 after another man admitted to the rape. (Dkt. No. 6: Am. Compl. ¶¶ 48-51; Defs. & Gaston Rule 56.1 Stmts. ¶ 68.)

ANALYSIS

I. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the "court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P . 56(a); see also, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2509-10 (1986); Lang v. Ret. Living Pub. Co., 949 F.2d 576, 580 (2d Cir. 1991).

The burden of showing that no genuine factual dispute exists rests on the party seeking summary judgment. See, e.g., Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S. Ct. 1598, 1608 (1970); Chambers v. TRM Copy Ctrs. Corp., 43 F.3d 29, 36 (2d Cir. 1994); Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., Ltd. P'ship, 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994). The movant may discharge this burden by demonstrating to the Court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case on an issue on which the non-movant has the burden of proof. See, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S. Ct. at 2552-53.

To defeat a summary judgment motion, the non-moving party must do "more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S. Ct. 1348, 1356 (1986). Instead, the non-moving party must "cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the record" to show that "a fact . . . is generally disputed." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see, e.g., Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S. Ct. at 1356; Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000) (At summary judgment, "[t]he time has come . . . 'to put up or shut up.'" (citations omitted)), cert. denied, 540 U.S. 811, 124 S. Ct. 53 (2003).

In evaluating the record to determine whether there is a genuine issue as to any material fact, "[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S. Ct. at 2513.*fn7

The Court draws all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party only after determining that such inferences are reasonable, considering all the evidence presented. See, e.g., Apex Oil Co. v. DiMauro, 822 F.2d 246, 252 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 977, 108 S. Ct. 489 (1987). "If, as to the issue on which summary judgment is sought, there is any evidence in the record from any source from which a reasonable inference could be drawn ...


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