United States District Court, E.D. New York
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
K. BRODIE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Terrel Haskins commenced the above-captioned action on April
10, 2015, against Defendants the City of New York, Captain
Theodore Lauterborn, Sergeant Clifford Strong, Detectives
Essence Jackson, Humberto Kibel and Christopher Ottomanelli
and John and Jane Does 1-10, who are officers of the New York
City Police Department ("NYPD"). (Compl., Docket
Entry No. 1.) Plaintiff filed an Amended Compliant on August
18, 2017. (Am. Compl., Docket Entry No. 9.) Plaintiffs claims
arise from his arrest on February 14, 2015, for his alleged
involvement in the possession and distribution of narcotics.
(Am. Compl. ¶¶ 12-27.) Plaintiff asserts claims for
false arrest, fabrication of evidence, unlawful entry,
malicious abuse of process, failure to intervene, and
municipal liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(Id. ¶¶ 28-81.) Defendants move for
summary judgment on all of Plaintiff s claims pursuant to
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Defs. Mot.
for Summ. J. ("Defs. Mot."), Docket Entry No. 24;
Defs. Mem. of Law in Supp. of Defs. Mot. ("Defs.
Mem"), Docket Entry No. 27.) For the reasons discussed
below, the Court denies Defendants' motion as to
Plaintiffs false arrest and fabrication of evidence claims
and grants the motion as to Plaintiffs unlawful entry,
malicious abuse of process, failure to intervene and
municipal liability claims.
claims arise from the execution of a search warrant for
possible narcotics located in Apartment 7G at 2940 West 31st
Street in Brooklyn, New York (the "Apartment"),
which resulted in the discovery of narcotics in a closet and
Plaintiffs arrest for his alleged involvement with the
possession and distribution of the narcotics. (Am. Compl.
The Apartment's residents and layout
2015, non-party Carolyn Copeland was leasing the Apartment.
(Pl. Dep. Submission A 42:4-9, 48:19-21, 134:9-14, Docket
Entry No. 25-1.) Copeland resided at the Apartment with her
boyfriend, Dale Anderson, her four adult children, her two
adult step-children and her three minor grandchildren. (Pl.
Dep. Submission A 42:2-43:12; Pl. Dep. Submission B
54:4-55:11, 56:2-25, Docket Entry No. 33-1.) The one-story
Apartment had four bedrooms and two bathrooms, (Pl. Dep.
Submission B 55:12-14), and two closets on each side of the
front door entrance ("the Entryway Closets").
(Apartment 7G Floor Plan ("Floor Plan"), Docket
Entry No. 25-4.) Immediately past the Entryway Closets was
the living room area. (Floor Plan.) Connected to the living
room area and opposite the entrance, was a hallway that
contained a closet and the entrances to the four bedrooms and
two bathrooms. (Floor Plan.) Proceeding towards the hallway
from the living room area, on the right side of the hallway
there was a closet (the "Living Room Closet") and
the two bathrooms, on the left side of the hallway there were
doors to two of the bedrooms, and at the back of the hallway
there were doors to the other two bedrooms. (Floor Plan.)
Plaintiff's relationship with the Apartment and its
and Copeland's adult children were longtime friends, and
Plaintiff often spent the night at Copeland's home when
he lacked stable or permanent housing. (Pl. Dep. Submission A
43:11-12, 68:3-16; Pl. Dep. Submission B 78:8-88:13.) Because
Plaintiff did not have a permanent address, Plaintiff listed
the Apartment as his address on his employment identification
card. (Pl. Statement of Material Facts Pursuant to Local Rule
56.1 ("Pl. 56.1") ¶ 75, Docket Entry No. 32;
Pl. Employment Identification Card, Docket Entry No. 25-10.)
Investigation into the criminal activity occurring at the
January of 2015, Detectives Jackson and Kibel began
investigating possible sales of narcotics occurring at 2940
West 31st Street in Brooklyn, New York. (Investigative
Reports, Docket Entry No. 25-3.) The investigation revealed
that an individual named "Dale" sold cocaine in the
building and resided in Apartment 7G. (Id.) Based on
the investigation, on February 10, 2015, Detective Jackson
sought and obtained a search warrant to procure possible
narcotics located at the Apartment and to arrest
"Dale" if the search of the premises led to the
discovery of narcotics. (Search Warrant, Docket Entry No.
The February 14, 2015 search of the Apartment and Plaintiffs
February 14, 2015, at approximately 12:30 AM, Plaintiff
contacted Copeland and asked if he could spend the night at
her apartment. (Pl. Dep. Submission A 69:12-18.) Copeland
told Plaintiff that he could. (Id. at 69:19-20.)
Plaintiff arrived at the Apartment a few minutes after he
spoke to Copeland. (Id. at 70:16-18.) Anderson
opened the door for Plaintiff. (Id. at 70:19-20.)
After Plaintiff entered the Apartment, Plaintiff hung his
jacket on the back of one of the Entryway Closets and sat on
a couch in the living room. (Pl. Dep. Submission B 71:4-15,
72:3-74:12.) Anderson was in the living room on a second
couch and one of Copeland's adult children was in the
living room on a third couch. (Id. at 73:18-74:3.)
The three of them watched television until they fell asleep.
(Id. at 74:4-10.)
that morning, at approximately 6:40 AM, Detectives Jackson
and Kibel executed the Search Warrant with Sergeant Strong
and Captain Lauterborn serving as the supervising officers.
(Detective Jackson Dep. 5:22-7:17, Docket Entry No. 25-5;
Decl. of Captain Lauterborn ("Captain Lauterborn
Decl") ¶¶ 1-8, Docket Entry No. 25-14; Decl.
of Sergeant Strong ("Sergeant Strong Decl.") ¶
4, Docket Entry No. 26; Criminal Compl. 3, Docket Entry No.
25-12.) When the officers arrived at the Apartment, they
forced the door open with a "hydraulic tool" and
entered the Apartment. (Detective Jackson Dep. 7:14-11:5.)
Plaintiff was asleep prior to the officers' forced entry
into the Apartment, but the noise of the forced entry woke
Plaintiff. (Pl. Dep. Submission B. 101:3-14.) After the
officers entered the Apartment, they secured all of the
individuals in the Apartment by handcuffing them and having
them sit on the couches in the living room. (Detective
Jackson Dep. 10:23-11:5.)
to Plaintiff, after the officers placed the Apartment's
occupants on the couches, Anderson was seated next to
Plaintiff and told the officers that "[w]hatever
you're all looking for, it is mine. I got it. I know
where it is. Nobody [else] know[s] [any]thing." (Pl.
Dep. SubmissionB 101:15-24, 104:14-20, 110:19-24.) Plaintiff
did not know what the officers were searching for, nor did he
know that Anderson was involved with drugs. (Id. at
104:7-8, 109:13-18, 110:7-16.) The officers then took
Anderson into the hallway and he directed them to the drugs.
(Id. at 108:7-14, 111:4-24.) Plaintiff did not
witness the officers recover the drugs, but saw an officer
return from the closet with a shoe box. (Id. at
108:19-20, 140:16-17; Pl. Dep. Submission A 112:25-113:5; Pl.
Dep. Submission C 157:13-158:3, Docket Entry No. 37-1.)
Plaintiff asserts that prior to the officers' arrival in
the Apartment, the door to the Living Room Closet was closed.
(Pl. Dep. Submission C 159:14-160:24, 225:15-21.)
to Detective Kibel, after the Apartment's occupants were
handcuffed and placed on the couches, Detective Jackson took
Anderson to one of the bedrooms in the Apartment and asked
him if there were any drugs in the Apartment. (Detective
Kibel Dep. 11:20-12:11, Docket Entry No. 33-2.) Anderson told
Detective Jackson that there were "drugs in the [L]iving
[R]oom [C]loset." (Detective Kibel Dep. 12:12-14.)
Anderson walked with Detectives Jackson and Kibel to the
Living Room Closet and directed the detectives to the
location of the drugs. (Detective Kibel Dep. 12:23-13:7,
15:18-16:11.) Detective Jackson removed a
"cardboard" box that contained drugs from the
Living Room Closet. (Detective Kibel Dep. 16:12-17:8.)
Detective Kibel did not recall Anderson making any statements
taking responsibility for the drugs. (Detective Kibel Dep.
to Detective Jackson, after the Apartment's occupants
were handcuffed and placed on the couches, Detective Jackson
searched the Apartment. (Detective Jackson Dep. 11:9-13:21.)
Detective Jackson discovered the drugs in the Living Room
Closet without Anderson or anyone else directing him to the
location of the drugs, and Anderson never expressed to
Detective Jackson or another officer that he owned or was
responsible for the drugs. (Detective Jackson Dep. 26:4-23,
27:4-11.) The drugs were "in plain sight" on a
shelf in the Living Room Closet that was approximately five
feet high. (Detective Jackson Dep. 27:12-18, 28:11-29:4.) The
drugs were packaged in "Ziplocs" inside of a
"Tupperware" container. (Detective Jackson Dep.
29:5-25.) When Detective Jackson was deposed on May 12, 2016,
he did not recall whether the Living Room Closet door was
open prior to the search. (Detective Jackson Dep. 1:24,
42:14-16, Docket Entry No. 33-3.) However, in the Criminal
Complaint completed on February 14, 2015, the day of the
arrest, Detective Jackson stated that the Living Room Closet
door was open prior to the search. (Criminal Compl. 3.)
officers recovered "eight (8) plastic twists of. . .
cocaine, " "ninety-seven (97) small [Z]iploc bags
containing . . . marijuana, " and "[t]wo clear
plastic bags containing [approximately] two hundred (200)
smaller [Z]iploc bags . . . intended for use in the
packaging and dispensing of cocaine." (Criminal Compl.
3-4; NYPD Laboratory Reports, Docket Entry No. 25-8.) The
officers placed Anderson and Plaintiff under arrest for
possession with the intent to distribute narcotics. (Pl. Dep.
Submission A 113:7-23, 114:2-8; Arrest Report 1, Docket Entry
No. 25-6.) Prior to arresting Plaintiff, the officers did not
ask Plaintiff for his address. (Pl. Dep. Submission A
114:12-22.) The Arrest Report, however, listed the Apartment
as Plaintiff s address. (Arrest Report 1.)
Jackson was the arresting officer. (Arrest Report 3.) As
relevant here, Detective Jackson stated in the Criminal
On February 14, 2015, at approximately 6:40 AM, [Detective
Jackson] executed a search warrant at [the Apartment]. When
[Detective Jackson] entered [the] Apartment , [Detective
Jackson] observed  Anderson and Terrel Haskins lying on
separate couches in the living room, which is the first room
past the [A]partment's front door. No other persons were
in the living room. [Detective Jackson] also observed an open
closet that opened onto the living room, just to the right
after entering the [A]partment. [Detective Jackson] observed
 Anderson and Haskins [in] custody and control of the
[recovered narcotics and packaging] . . . located in the open
closet that opened onto the living room where  Anderson and
Haskins were located.
after Plaintiff was arrested, he was transported to central
booking. (Pl. Dep. Submission A 112:17-21.) At Plaintiff s
arraignment, the state court judge set abail amount and
Plaintiff was remanded until someone could post bail for him.
(Id. at 112:20-23.) On February 17, 2015, three days
after Plaintiffs arrest, he was released on bond after one of
his family members posted his bail. (Am. Compl. ¶25.)
When Plaintiff reappeared before the state court on February
19, 2015, the District Attorney's Office dismissed the
charges against Plaintiff.(Pl. 56.1 ¶ 58.)
Standard of review
judgment is proper only when, construing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the non-movant, "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); Davis v. Shah, 821 F.3d 231, 243 (2d Cir.
2016); see also Cortes v. MTA NYC Transit, 802 F.3d
226, 230 (2d Cir. 2015). The role of the court "is not
to resolve disputed questions of fact but only to determine
whether, as to any material issue, a genuine factual dispute
exists." Rogoz v. City of Hartford, 796 F.3d
236, 245 (2d Cir. 2015) (first quoting Kaytor v. Elec.
Boat Corp., 609 F.3d 537, 545 (2d Cir. 2010); and then
citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., Ml U.S. 242,
249-50 (1986)). Agenuine issue of fact exists when there is
sufficient "evidence on which the jury could reasonably
find for the plaintiff." Anderson, 477 U.S. at
252. The "mere existence of a scintilla of
evidence" is not sufficient to defeat summary judgment.
Id. The court's function is to decide
"whether, after resolving all ambiguities and drawing
all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, a rational
juror could find in favor of that party." Pinto v.
Allstate Ins. Co., 221 F.3d 394, 398 (2d Cir. 2000).
Section 1983 claims
asserts the following claims against Defendants under section
1983: (1) false arrest, (2) fabrication of evidence, (3)
unlawful entry, (4) malicious abuse of process, (5) failure
to intervene, ...