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Roper v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 7, 2017

XAVIER ROPER and WILLIAM LOGAN LOCKETT, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, a municipal entity; POLICE OFFICER JEREMIAH WINTER; POLICE OFFICER MICHAEL SHULTIS; INSPECTOR TIMOTHY BEAUDETTE; DEPUTY INSPECTOR JOHN HART; POLICE OFFICER "LOMBARDO"; NEW YORK CITY SUPERVISING POLICE OFFICER "JOHN DOE"; POLICE OFFICERS "JOHN DOES 1-10"; and other unidentified members of the New York City Police Department, Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          Paul A. Engelmayer, United States District Judge

         On December 4, 2014, plaintiffs Xavier Roper and William Logan Lockett were arrested by officers of the New York City Police Department ("NYPD") in the vicinity of Times Square in Manhattan. Roper and Lockett bring this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants, NYPD officers and the City of New York (the "City"), violated their federal constitutional rights in connection with the arrests. Defendants move to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

         For the reasons that follow, the Court grants defendants' motion.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background[1]

         On the evening of December 4, 2014, demonstrators associated with the Black Lives Matter movement gathered to protest in Times Square. FAC ¶¶ 40, 92, 138. Black Lives Matter is a movement intended “to call attention to and change inequalities and ill effects created through systems of structural racism in American society, ” among them police misconduct and brutality directed at African Americans. Id. ¶ 121. On December 4, the Black Lives Matter protest concerned, in particular, the failure to indict an officer in the case of Eric Garner, an African-American man killed during an arrest on Staten Island in July 2014. See Id. ¶¶ 135-39.

         Roper went to Times Square on December 4 intending to document the protest. Id. ¶¶ 40-43. Roughly an hour after he arrived, Roper “moved into the street, ” which was closed to traffic, id. ¶ 54, in order “to photograph and video record the police action from a different perspective, ” id. ¶ 53. Sometime thereafter, defendant Inspector Timothy Beaudette ordered the protestors to move from the street to the sidewalk. Id. ¶ 55. As the result of barricades and a “wall of NYPD officers, ” Roper was unable to access the sidewalk in order to comply with the order. Id. ¶ 56. Roper heard an NYPD supervisor instruct his officers to “[j]ust take somebody and put them in handcuffs.”[2] Id. ¶ 60. One of the officers then arrested Roper for “standing in the street, ” id. ¶ 62, and placed him in plastic “flex-cuffs, ” id. ¶ 76.

         Lockett, a freelance photojournalist, also attended the December 4 protest in order to take photographs of the protestors, the police, and the interactions between the two. Id. ¶¶ 90, 92-93. During the protest, in an effort to locate a restroom, Lockett crossed a street that had been closed off to traffic. Id. ¶¶ 96-100. Lockett did not use a crosswalk, as those had been blocked off by police officers. See Id. ¶¶ 97, 99. Police officers, including defendant Officer Lombardo, arrested Lockett for disorderly conduct and placed him in plastic flex-cuffs. Id. ¶¶ 101-02.

         After their arrests, Roper and Lockett were each detained for several hours and eventually issued desk-appearance tickets. Id. ¶¶ 82-83, 106-07. At their court appearances, both plaintiffs received adjournments in contemplation of dismissal. Id. ¶¶ 87, 108. The charges against them have since been dismissed and sealed. Id. ¶¶ 88, 108.

         B. Procedural History

         On November 12, 2015, plaintiffs filed their original complaint, before the Honorable Analisa Torres. Dkt. 1. On February 25, 2016, they filed the FAC. Dkt. 23. A court-ordered mediation session was held on August 18, 2016, without success. Dkt. 34. On August 22, 2016, the case was referred to the Honorable Gabriel W. Gorenstein for all general pretrial matters. Dkt. 35.

         On October 4, 2016, Judge Torres denied defendants' request to stay discovery pending defendants' anticipated motion to dismiss. Dkt. 46. On October 6, 2016, defendants then filed the instant motion to dismiss, which was fully submitted as of October 27.[3] Dkts. 47-51. On November 22, 2016, the case was transferred to the undersigned. On January 25, 2017, Judge Gorenstein granted a request by the City to stay discovery concerning plaintiffs' claims for municipal liability against it. Dkt. 66. After multiple extensions, fact discovery on the balance of plaintiffs' claims ended on March 23, 2017. See Dkt. 66. Judge Gorenstein denied plaintiffs' requests to further extend the discovery period. See Dkt. 66, 72.

         II. Standard of Review

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Dismissal is proper where, as a matter of law, ...


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