United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
M. GOLD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Cartell Johnson brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiff's lawsuit arises from his early
morning arrest on May 17, 2014. Defendant Michael Williams,
an officer of the New York City Police Department
(“NYPD”), made the arrest after learning that
plaintiff was identified as a perpetrator in an outstanding
investigation card (“I-card”). More than two
years earlier, defendant NYPD Detective Michael Enright
caused the I-card to be issued after fellow officers received
a domestic violence complaint from plaintiff's former
girlfriend, who alleged that plaintiff grabbed her by her
hair, pushed her into a wall, and grabbed her cellphone and
broke it during an incident that took place in January 2012.
parties have consented to reassignment of this case to me for
all purposes pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Docket
Entry 28. Defendants now move for summary judgment. Docket
Entry 30. Although the amended complaint asserts various
claims against the named defendants, plaintiff states in his
response to defendants' motion that he does not oppose
judgment dismissing each of his claims except one for false
arrest against defendant Williams. Plaintiff's Memorandum
of Law in Opposition at 2 (“Pl.'s Mem.”),
Docket Entry 39. For the following reasons, defendants'
motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's false arrest
claim against defendant Williams is GRANTED.
following facts present the evidence in the light most
favorable to plaintiff. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.,
Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986).
On January 1, 2012, NYPD Officer Marilyn Morock of the 67th
Precinct received a report of a domestic dispute from
plaintiff's ex-girlfriend, who is identified herein as
S.B. Defs.' R. 56.1 ¶¶ 1-2; Pl.'s R. 56.1
¶¶ 1-2. According to the police report prepared by
Officer Morock, S.B. stated that Johnson, her ex-boyfriend
and the father of her son, yelled at her, “grab[ed] her
by the hair and pushed her into the wall, ” grabbed her
cellphone and broke it, “pushed their son to the
ground, ” and then fled the scene. Detective Bureau
Case Log for Complaint No. 2012-067-00012 (“Case
Log”) at 1, Sanborn Decl., Ex. 4, Docket Entry 38-4.
The same report identifies the offense committed by Johnson
as criminal mischief in the third degree, a Class E felony,
in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 145.05. Id.
Morock also prepared a Domestic Incident Report
(“DIR”) in connection with S.B.'s
allegations. The DIR reiterates the accusations made by S.B.
against Johnson noted above and adds that S.B. alleged that
Johnson “began pushing me and screaming that he was
going to kill me.” NYPD Domestic Incident Report, dated
January 1, 2012, at 2, Siskind Decl., Ex. B, Docket Entry
33-2. The DIR lists the offenses committed by Johnson as
criminal mischief in the fourth degree, a Class A
misdemeanor, in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 145.00,
and harassment in the second degree, a violation under N.Y.
Penal Law § 240.26. Id. at 1.
January 4, 2012, Enright, a detective in the 67th Precinct
Detective Squad, initiated the process of having an I-card
issued for plaintiff based upon the complaint made by S.B.
Defs.' R. 56.1 ¶¶ 5-6; Pl.'s R. 56.1
¶¶ 5-6; Enright Dep. Tr. at 22:13-23:19, Sanborn
Decl., Ex. 1, Docket Entry 38-1. An I-card is an internal
NYPD form issued by an officer when there is a suspect,
witness, or perpetrator to be investigated. Enright Dep. Tr.
at 5:8-6:17; see also Henning v. City of New York,
2012 WL 2700505, at *1 n.2 (E.D.N.Y. July 5, 2012)
(“The NYPD issues I-cards, inter alia, to give
notice of persons sought for whom there is probable cause for
arrest. [I-cards] have been described as investigation cards
used by members of the NYPD to alert other members of
probable cause to arrest a subject.”) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted).
I-card was issued at 11:30 p.m. on January 7, 2012.
See Investigation Card for Cartell Johnson
(“Johnson I-card”), Sanborn Decl., Ex. 2, Docket
Entry 38-2. Earlier that evening, at about 9:45 p.m.,
Detective Michael Braithwaite conducted a follow-up interview
with S.B. over the telephone. S.B. told Braithwaite that when
she went to Johnson's apartment to drop off school
supplies for their child, Johnson “was very angry and
started to yell at her and call her a slut.” Defs.'
R. 56.1 ¶ 3; Pl.'s R. 56.1 ¶ 3; Case Log at 6.
S.B. also told Braithwaite that Johnson was “standing
very close to her, ” she “thought she was about
to be assaulted, ” and that when she “took out
her phone . . . to call 911, ” he “took her phone
and broke it” before fleeing the scene. Case Log at 6.
Morock's report, the DIR, and Braithwaite's report of
the follow-up interview with S.B. each identify plaintiff as
the individual who committed the acts S.B. described.
Defs.' R. 56.1 ¶ 4; Pl.'s R. 56.1 ¶ 4.
I-card references the report filed by Officer Morock on
January 1, 2012, lists “Cartell Johnson” as the
subject, and indicates that Johnson is sought as a
perpetrator and that there is probable cause to arrest
Johnson for “Criminal Mischief, ” in violation of
N.Y. Penal Law § 145.05, a Class E felony. It appears
from the face of the I-card that it was issued by Detective
next event of significance to this case did not occur until
more than two years later. Late in the evening on May 16,
2014, plaintiff visited the 70th Precinct stationhouse
located in Brooklyn, New York, to pick up his friend's
car keys. Defs.' R. 56.1 ¶¶ 7-8; Pl.'s R.
56.1 ¶¶ 7-8. Defendant Williams, who was at the
front desk, asked plaintiff for his driver's license to
ensure that he could lawfully assume control of his
friend's car. Williams Dep. Tr. at 6:15-7:9, Sanborn
Decl., Ex. 6, Docket Entry 38-6. Plaintiff provided Williams
with an identification document but, because it was not a
driver's license, Williams conducted a computer name
check to determine whether, in fact, plaintiff had a valid
license. Defs.' R. 56.1 ¶¶ 9-11; Pl.'s R.
56.1 ¶¶ 9-11; Williams Dep. Tr. at 7:10-18.
Approximately ten minutes after conducting the name check, at
2:40 a.m. on May 17, 2014, plaintiff was placed under arrest.
Defs.' R. 56.1 ¶ 16; Pl.'s R. 56.1 ¶ 16;
Williams Dep. Tr. at 17:3-6. What precisely transpired during
those ten minutes is a matter of some dispute between the
to Williams, the computer name check he conducted revealed an
“active” I-card for plaintiff. Defs.' R. 56.1
¶ 12; Williams Dep. Tr. at 7:19-8:8. Accordingly,
Williams testified, he “immediately called the 67th
Precinct Detective Squad” and spoke with an individual
he could not identify by name, who informed Williams that
“the I-card was still active and that . . . there was
probable cause to arrest plaintiff.” Defs.' R. 56.1
¶ 13; Williams Dep. Tr. at 12:5-23. Williams further
testified that when he informed his supervisor, Sergeant
Valenti Khazin, that there appeared to be a 2012
“complaint [that] was still open” relating to
plaintiff, Khazin instructed Williams to arrest Johnson.
Williams Dep. Tr. at 13:12-24; Arrest Report, Siskind Decl.,
Ex. I, Docket Entry 33-9. Until he reviewed the I-card,
Williams had no reason to arrest plaintiff. Williams Dep. Tr.
the course of processing Johnson's arrest, Williams
called the Kings County District Attorney's Office to
report that an arrest had been made. Defs.' R. 56.1
¶ 20; Williams Dep. Tr. at 18:5-19:2. At some point
later that day, however, the King's County District
Attorney's Office declined prosecution because the
“statute of limitations ha[d] run.” Defs.' R.
56.1 ¶ 22; Declined Prosecution Form, Siskind Decl., Ex.
J, Docket Entry 33-10. Accordingly, plaintiff was released
from custody at about 6:15 p.m. on May 17, 2014. Defs.'
Resp. to Pl.'s R. 56.1 ¶ 45; Pl.'s R. 56.1
version of events differs from defendants' recounting in
several respects. First, contrary to Williams' testimony,
plaintiff claims that the I-card was not active at
the time of his arrest, and that it was in fact
“closed” on April 3, 2012. Pl.'s R. 56.1
¶ 28; Case Log at 13.Plaintiff further asserts that the
I-card was not reactivated by Detective Enright until late on
May 17, 2014, after Johnson's early morning
arrest and after he was released from custody.
Pl.'s R. 56.1 ¶¶ 41-45. Plaintiff also claims
that once the I-card was discovered and Johnson was placed
under arrest, Williams failed to “obtain instructions
from the appropriate authority, ” in violation of NYPD
policy. Pl.'s R. 56.1 ¶¶ 52-57; see
also NYPD Patrol Guide Procedure No. 208-23 at 2,
Sanborn Decl., Ex. 10, Docket Entry 38-10. Detective Enright
testified at his deposition that the “appropriate
authority” in this case would have been the detective
who initially issued the I-card ...