United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
M. COGAN U.S.D.J.
police tried to enter the home of a suspect to execute an
arrest warrant, the suspect's mother refused to let them
in. She physically blocked the officers' entry into the
home and the police had to pull her out of the way to get by
her, at which time she tried to kick one of the officers.
When the officers tried to handcuff her for interfering, she
resisted arrest by screaming, kicking her legs, and flailing
arrest warrant gave the officers the right to enter the
suspect's home to see if he was there, and any force the
police used to get past and then subdue his mother was de
minimis and thus reasonable under the circumstances.
Accordingly, the officers are entitled to summary judgment on
the mother's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for false
arrest and excessive force.
following facts are undisputed.
Arthur Leahy (“Det. Leahy”), a detective with the
Warrant Squad of the New York Police Department, was assigned
to the investigation of a burglary suspect named Kedar
Harper. His specific task was to follow up on an
investigation card, known as an “I-card.” The
I-card listed Harper as residing at 910 Caton Avenue, Apt.
52, Brooklyn (the “subject premises”). Leahy ran
several computer searches in an effort to get information
concerning Harper. Specifically, he did a general online
search for information and found nothing. He also checked the
New York City Department of Corrections database and found
that Harper was not in custody. He further checked to see if
he was on parole or probation; both checks came back
negative. He also checked the database for the Narcotics
Investigative Tracking of Recidivist Offenders
(“NITRO”) and didn't find anything on Harper
in that database either. Det. Leahy read all of the DD-5s
(police reports) in connection with the investigation of
Harper, but they did not disclose any additional information
apart from the I-card.
searched what is known as the ADW, a database that compiles
an individual's I-card and warrant history. One of the
sources from which ADW pulls information is another database
called CRIMS, which is populated and maintained by the New
York State Unified Court System. The CRIMS database
identifies outstanding warrants based on the name of a
defendant or his case number.
database disclosed an outstanding bench warrant for
Harper's arrest that the New York City Criminal Court had
issued about six months prior to Leahy's involvement in
this matter. Like his I-card, the warrant showed Harper
residing at the subject premises, although it did not list an
apartment number. It also contained Harper's picture.
not known to Det. Leahy with certainty at the time, Harper
was indeed living at the subject premises. In fact, he had
lived there with his mother his entire life, except the times
during which he had been incarcerated.
morning at about 7:00 a.m., Det. Leahy went to the subject
address with defendant detectives Kirk, Tehan, and Nieh to
arrest Harper. They knocked on the door and plaintiff, who is
Harper's mother, answered. Det. Leahy heard a male voice
inside. He asked plaintiff if Harper was there and plaintiff
said he was “not home.” She confirmed that Harper
was her son and when shown the arrest warrant with his
picture on it, she further confirmed that the warrant was for
Harper. When Det. Leahy told plaintiff that they were going
to enter the premises and look for him, plaintiff asked to
review the warrant. Det. Leahy handed plaintiff the warrant
and permitted her to close the apartment door to retrieve her
glasses and, after returning, to review it.
expressed the view that the arrest warrant did not give the
police the right to enter the apartment and started to close
the door. Det. Leahy inserted his foot or himself to stop the
door from closing and he pulled plaintiff out of the
apartment by her arm so he could get in. One of the other
detectives took her arm behind her back to place handcuffs on
her and plaintiff kicked at him. Plaintiff acknowledges that
from that point on she fought vigorously to prevent the
police from handcuffing her - yelling, screaming, kicking and
flailing her arms - but ultimately, defendants overpowered
her and placed her in handcuffs.
went to trial on charges of resisting arrest and obstruction
of governmental administration and was acquitted.