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Flynn-Rodriguez v. Cheng

United States District Court, E.D. New York

July 31, 2017

SCHARLENE FLYNN-RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
SERGEANT JOHNNY CHENG, and POLICE OFFICER ANTHONY CHOW. Defendants.

          Scharlene Flynn-Rodriguez, Ellie Amanda Silverman Novo Law Firm, PC

          The City of New York New York City Police Department Police Officer Johnny Cheng Police Officer Anthony Chow, Ashley Rebecca Garman New York City Law Department Office of Corporation Counsel.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Jack B. Weinstein Senior United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         In her original complaint Scharlene Flynn-Rodriguez brought a melange of allegations against two New York City Police Department ("NYPD") officers; the majority have since been withdrawn or dismissed. At trial, the remaining claims are: (1) excessive force; (2) state assault and battery; (3) failure to intervene; and (4) malicious prosecution based on the charge of resisting arrest. At the close of the plaintiffs case, the defendants moved for judgment under Rule 50 on the malicious prosecution claim.

         The District Attorney had probable cause to initiate and continue this prosecution on a number of criminal charges and would have continued it even if the police had lied about plaintiffs resisting arrest. A post-arraignment deprivation of plaintiff s liberty cannot be attributed to the police, or solely to the charge of resisting arrest. The motion to dismiss the malicious prosecution claim is granted.

         II. Facts

         While on patrol in a marked police car, defendants, uniformed officers Anthony Chow and Johnny Cheng, received a radio order to arrest Ms. Flynn-Rodriguez for threatening to bomb a "school in Pennsylvania." Trial Transcript ("Trial Tr.") 298:15 - 21, July 26, 2017; Garman Decl. attached, Ex. A (Text Messages).

         The NYPD had received the request to arrest her from Pennsylvania police. Id. When the officers arrived at Ms. Flynn Rodriguez's apartment and asked for her, they were informed by her husband that she was not home. Id. at 237:1 - 13. The officers left the building; they were approached by Ms. Flynn-Rodriguez on the street. Id. at 300:7 - 21. The officers asked for her identification and confirmed that she was the person they had been sent to arrest. Id. at 301:14 - 302:14. They succeeded in handcuffing her, forced her into their car, and drove her to the 62nd Precinct house. Id. Defendants contend that plaintiff resisted handcuffing, struggled, flailed her arms, and twisted and stiffened her body, refusing to enter the police car. Id. at 275:11-14; 303:1-7.

         She testified that she was never told that she was being arrested. See Trial Tr. 31:15, July 25, 2017. She stated that the officers pressed into her shoulders and back while handcuffing her and placing her in the police car, causing serious injuries. Id. at 37:16 - 18.

         After the arrest, Officer Cheng spoke with Rose Flynn, Ms. Flynn-Rodriguez's sister in law in Pennsylvania, over the phone. Decl. of Ashley R. Garman in Supp. of Defs.' Mot. for Partial Summ. J., Feb. 25, 2016, ECF No. 35 ("Garman Decl."), at Ex. L (Apr. 9 DIR). She told Officer Cheng that Ms. Flynn-Rodriguez had sent her text messages threatening her children and the lives of the children at their school with a bomb. Id.

         A misdemeanor criminal complaint, signed by Officer Cheng, was filed in Kings County Criminal Court. It charged Ms. Flynn-Rodriguez with the following crimes in connection with Rose Flynn's March 6, 2013 complaint and Ms. Flynn-Rodriguez's alleged behavior on April 9, 2013:

• Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree, N.Y.P.L. § 215.50(3);
• Two counts of Aggravated Harassment in the Second Degree, N.Y.P.L. §§ 240.30(1)(A)-(B); • Harassment in the Second Degree, ...

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