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Shaheed v. City of New York

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 2, 2018

DAGHRIB SHAHEED, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER STEPHAN KROSKI, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER PAUL BLISS, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER JONATHAN RODRIGUEZ, and NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER LYDIA FIGUEROA, Defendants. WAHEEDAH SHAHEED, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER STEPHAN KROSKI, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER PAUL BLISS, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER JONATHAN RODRIGUEZ, and NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER LYDIA FIGUEROA, Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge

         Plaintiffs Daghrib Shaheed ("Daghrib") and Waheedah Shaheed ("Waheedah") bring these consolidated actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and New York state law against the City of New York (the "City") and several New York Police Department ("NYPD") officers. As a result of this Court's prior decision dismissing plaintiffs' federal claims for municipal liability, plaintiffs' remaining claims are for false arrest, false imprisonment, deprivation of substantive due process, excessive force, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery. These claims arise from two incidents: one on June 6, 2012 (the "June 6 incident"), and the other taking place between June 29 and June 30, 2012 (the "June 29-30 incident").

         Pending now is defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. Defendants seek summary judgment in their favor on: (1) all claims arising out of the June 29-30 incident; (2) both plaintiffs' claims for deprivation of substantive due process and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of the June 6 incident; and (3) Daghrib's claims for excessive force, assault, and battery arising out of the June 6 incident.

         For the reasons that follow, the Court grants the motion in all respects except insofar as it seeks dismissal of Daghrib's claims for excessive force, assault, and battery arising out of the June 6 incident. The effect of this decision is to dismiss all claims arising out of the June 29-30 incident and to preserve for trial all claims arising out of the June 6 incident save the claims for deprivation of substantive due process and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background[1]

         1. The Parties

         In June 2012, plaintiff Waheedah Shaheed lived with her four children: plaintiff Daghrib Shaheed, age 25; Noah Shaheed, age 20; I.O., age 15; and A.A., age 11. Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶¶ 4-5. At all relevant times, the family lived together in an apartment on East 129th Street in Manhattan. Id. ¶ 6. Waheedah and Daghrib were tenants on the lease of the apartment. Id. ¶ 7.

         At all relevant times, each of the four individual defendants was an NYPD police officer, Id. ¶ 3. Each was assigned to the 25th Precinct in Harlem. Id.

         2. The ACS Investigation

         On May 29, 2012, officials at I.O.'s school reported seeing marks on I.O.'s arm, which they believed resulted from self-inflicted harm. Id. ¶ 8. The school requested that Waheedah take I.O. to receive medical care. Id. ¶ 9; see also Arko Decl. Ex. I ("Waheedah Dep.") at 80. Waheedah, who suffers from several health conditions, including cancer (multiple myeloma) and a heart condition (mitral regurgitation), explained that she was not feeling well enough to go and that school officials were overreacting. Waheedah Dep. at 43, 80. After Waheedah refused to come to the school, I.O. was sent by ambulance to the hospital with the school nurse. See Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 9; Waheedah Dep. at 80-81.

         Although the hospital released I.O. to Noah, see Waheedah Dep. at 81, the New York City Administration for Children's Services ("ACS") opened an investigation against Waheedah for inadequate medical care and inadequate guardianship, Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 10. Between May 29, 2012 and June 6, 2012, ACS Child Protective Specialist Shannon Aste called and visited Waheedah several times to inform her of the investigation and to discuss the allegations. Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶11. At each visit, Waheedah refused to let Aste into her apartment. Id.

         On June 5, 2012, Aste told Waheedah over the phone that Waheedah was required to appear at a child safety conference the next day, and that her failure to appear might result in ACS's seeking court intervention. Arko Decl. Ex. K ("Aste Decl.") at ¶ 10. Waheedah did not appear at the conference. Id. ¶11.

         On June 6, 2012, ACS filed a neglect petition in Manhattan Family Court. Id. ¶ 12. That same day, Manhattan Family Court Judge Clark V. Richardson signed an Order on Application for Temporary Removal of Child. It authorized ACS to remove I.O. and A.A. from their mother's home. Arko Decl. Ex. L. Judge Richardson found that ACS had made reasonable efforts to eliminate the need for removal notwithstanding Waheedah's resistance, and that removal was necessary due to "imminent danger to [the] child." Id. at 2.

         3. The June 6 Incident

          a. Entry into the Apartment

         On June 6, 2012, at approximately 6:30 p.m., Officers Stephan Kroski and Jonathan Rodriguez received a radio transmission advising that ACS workers needed assistance executing a removal order at the Shaheed apartment. Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 14. The officers responded to the building and met with several ACS workers outside. Id. ¶ 15. The ACS workers informed the officers that they had an order permitting them to remove children from an apartment in the building. Id. ¶ 16. They showed Kroski a document that he reviewed and understood to be a removal order. Id.

         The officers and ACS workers entered the building. Kroski knocked on the apartment door. Id. ¶¶ 17, 19. At this time, only Waheedah, Daghrib, and Noah were in the apartment. Id. ¶ 18. Noah opened the door. Kroski informed him that he had a court order authorizing removal of a child from the apartment. Id. ¶¶ 20-21.

         The parties dispute what happened next. See Id. ¶ 22. Kroski testified that Noah demanded to see a warrant, pushed Kroski in the chest, and refused to let him enter the apartment. See Arko Deck Ex. E ("Kroski Deck") ¶ 11. Noah, however, testified that Kroski stuck his foot inside the door and, as Noah tried to "hold [his] ground, " grabbed Noah by the wrist and started forcing his way into the apartment. See Arko Decl. Ex. J ("Noah Dep.") at 54-55, 59.

         Eventually, Kroski and Rodriguez managed to enter the apartment. Pl. Counter 56.1122. Once inside, the officers tussled with Noah as they attempted (ultimately successfully) to place him in handcuffs. Id. ¶ 23; see also Noah Dep. at 65-67. Rodriguez and Noah wound up falling to the floor together. See Arko Decl. Ex. F ("Rodriguez Deck") ¶ 13.

         Meanwhile, Waheedah came out of her room to investigate. Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 24. Seeing the police, she demanded that Kroski tell her what the officers were doing in her home. Id. ¶ 25. After demanding to see a warrant, Waheedah ordered the officers to leave her home. Id.

         What followed is also in dispute. All agree that a physical fight broke out involving at least Kroski and Waheedah. Id. 26. In Kroski's telling, Waheedah yelled at him and punched him in the mouth, leading Kroski to tackle her and attempt to place her in handcuffs. See Kroski Decl. ¶¶ 16-19. In Waheedah's telling, Kroski initiated the confrontation by punching her in the face. See Waheedah Dep. at 106, 118. Daghrib's testimony corroborates Waheedah's, stating that Kroski, unprompted, punched Waheedah in the face and "slammed her to the floor." See Arko Decl. Ex. H ("Daghrib Dep.") at 66. Kroski testified further that Daghrib jumped on his back and wrapped her legs around his upper body. See Kroski Decl. ¶ 22. Daghrib, however, testified that she never attacked Kroski and instead was "grabbed and placed into the kitchen" by an unknown officer. Id. at 69, 74. All agree that, at some point, Waheedah "grabbed" Kroski's testicles and squeezed them "as hard as she possibly could." Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 27.

         Following this scrum, Daghrib was placed in handcuffs. Id. Officer Paul Bliss, who had arrived after receiving Rodriguez's radio call for assistance, then took hold of Daghrib's arm. Id. ¶¶ 28-29. Daghrib testified that Bliss "grabb[ed] her left arm so hard that [she felt] a lot [of] pain." Daghrib Dep. at 75. Daghrib testified further that after she informed Bliss that he was hurting her, he "tightened his grip." Id.

         Waheedah, Daghrib, and Noah were all removed from the building and transported to the 25th Precinct. Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 29. Daghrib was then taken to the emergency room, where she complained of a cut and pain to her left arm, and received x-rays and a pain reliever, before she was taken back to the 25th Precinct. Id. ¶ 32. She was then taken to Manhattan Central booking, arraigned, and released. Id. ¶ 33. Waheedah, meanwhile, was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she was admitted and issued a desk appearance ticket. Id. ¶ 34.

         The New York County District Attorney's Office charged Waheedah and Daghrib with assault in the second degree, resisting arrest, and obstructing governmental administration. Id. ¶ 36. On September 18, 2013, these charges were dismissed and sealed. See Arko Decl. Exs. Q, R.

         4. Continued Investigation and the June 29-30 Incident

          On June 13, 2012, Aste learned that I.O. and A.A. had gone to live with their father in Yonkers, New York. Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 37. The next day, ACS obtained a court order permitting this living arrangement after it was determined that the father's home did not pose a danger to the children. Id. ¶ 38.

         On June 25, 2012, however, Aste learned from the father that I.O. and A.A. had returned to Waheedah's home. Id. ¶ 39. That same day, Aste went to Waheedah's apartment and, after Waheedah refused to allow her in, spoke to Waheedah through the door. Id. ¶ 40.

         On June 26, 2012, Judge Richardson signed a second order permitting ACS to remove I.O. and A.A. from Waheedah's home. Id. ¶ 41. That afternoon, Aste brought the order to the 25th Precinct, where police informed her that the order was insufficient on its face to permit forced entry should Waheedah refuse to allow entry. Id. ¶ 42. Accompanied by police, Aste then returned to the Shaheed apartment, where, after Waheedah refused to allow her in, she once again spoke to Waheedah through the door. Id. ¶¶ 43-4.

         On June 27, 2012, according to Aste's testimony, Aste returned to the apartment and slipped under the door a "Notice of Existence" of the ACS investigation, an "Order of Protection" against Waheedah in favor of I.O. and A.A., the June 6 and June 26 court orders, and the neglect petitions filed on behalf of I.O. and A.A. Aste Decl. ¶ 24.

         On June 29, 2012, ACS obtained a third order from Judge Richardson. Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 45. This order found "probable cause to believe that an abused or neglected child may be" present at the Shaheed apartment. Arko Decl. Ex. N (the "June 29 order"). Accordingly, the order authorized agents, accompanied by police, "to enter the above premises using forcible entry to determine if the children ... are present and proceed thereafter with a child protective investigation pursuant to § 1034(2)(c) of the New York Family Court Act, and . . . take whatever appropriate actions pursuant to § 690.50(1) of the New York Criminal Procedure Law." Id.

         Accordingly, on the evening of June 29, 2012, several ACS workers traveled to the 25th Precinct to request assistance with executing the June 29 order. Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 47. The police agreed to assist. Several officers accompanied ACS workers to the Shaheed apartment. Id. ¶ 48. Of the officers who assisted in executing the June 29 order, only Officer Lydia Figueroa is a defendant here.

         On the night of June 29, 2012, Waheedah, Daghrib, Noah, and I.O. were in the apartment. Id. ¶ 49. An officer knocked and asked the occupants to open the door. Id. ¶ 52. Waheedah instructed Noah not to open the door. Id. ¶ 52. Waheedah and Daghrib heard the police say through the door that they had a warrant, but they refused to open the door. Id. ¶¶ 53-54. Instead, according to their testimony, plaintiffs asked the police to slide the warrant under the door, which the officers never did. See Waheedah Dep. at 175; Daghrib Dep. at 112. In contrast, Figueroa testified that the officers "slid[] a document that [Figueroa] understood to be the court order under the door, but the document was pushed back out into the hallway." Figueroa Decl. ¶ 13.

         At an impasse, the police requested backup. Pl. Counter 56.1 ¶ 55. An extensive, hours-long negotiation ensued, during which multiple officers and an imam tried unsuccessfully to convince Waheedah and her family to open the door. Id. ¶ 55. Figueroa was not involved in these negotiations. Id. ¶ 56.

         After several hours, the police forced the door open and entered the apartment. Id. ¶ 57. Waheedah, Daghrib, Noah, and I.O. were all in Waheedah's bedroom when the police entered. See Waheedah Dep. at 189; Daghrib Dep. at 122. According to Daghrib, six or seven officers entered the apartment with guns drawn, aimed toward the inhabitants, and ordered the family to get down on the floor. See Daghrib Dep. at 123. Although Waheedah suggested in her testimony that Daghrib might have "tripped or slipped, or was pushed to the floor, " see Waheedah Dep. at 191, Daghrib testified that she complied with the order, see Daghrib Dep. at 123. Daghrib also testified that the ...


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