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Tindle v. Enochs

March 19, 2010

DEVON TINDLE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WAYNE COUNTY SHERIFF DEPUTY L. ENOCHS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Stephen J. Murphy, III

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (docket no. 9)

This is a civil rights action in which the plaintiff, Devon Tindle, alleges that the defendant, Wayne County Sheriff Deputy Latonya Enochs, violated his constitutional rights by detaining and interrogating him in the course of a raid on an alleged drug house. The plaintiff was 17 years old at the time of the incident. This matter comes before the Court on defendant's motion for summary judgment. Based on a review of the facts in the record, it appears that the defendant violated the plaintiff's civil rights by detaining him in handcuffs for 2 to 3 hours while a residence that he did not occupy was being searched pursuant to a search warrant, and the defendant is not entitled to qualified immunity on the present state of the proceedings; therefore, defendant's motion for summary judgment will be denied as to plaintiff's federal claim. Summary judgment will be granted, however, as to the plaintiff's state law claims of false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery and malicious prosecution.

FACTS

The following are the facts in the record, viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the non-moving party.

Deputy Enochs is a member of the Wayne County Sheriff Narcotics Enforcement Unit, which conducts undercover, surveillance and law enforcement operations related to illegal narcotics trafficking. Enochs Aff. ¶ 2. In 2006, she was involved in several surveillance and enforcement activities related to illegal drug trafficking in and out of houses on the 20000 block of Fenmore in the City of Detroit. Id. ¶ 3. Several houses on the street are known as "drug houses," and they have been the subject of repeated citizen complaints, surveillance activities, undercover drug buys, and execution of search warrants where drugs, money and guns have been found -- as well as drug forfeiture proceedings. Id.

Sometime before December 13, 2006, the narcotics unit received a complaint that illegal drugs were being sold at 20075 Fenmore. Id. ¶ 4. Enochs had been involved in seven incidents involving surveillance, undercover-officer buys, traffic stops and search warrant executions targeting both 20075 and the house immediately to the north of that address, which shared a common driveway with 20075 Fenmore. Id. ¶ 5. According to Enochs, people would purchase drugs from both houses through windows that face the common driveway (the north window to 20075 and the south window of the house next door). Id. ¶ 6. Typically, cars would stop in the street, someone from the car would walk up the driveway to a window that faces the driveway, purchase drugs through the window, return to the car and drive away. Id.

On December 12, 2006, a confidential informant told Enochs that illegal drugs were being sold out of 20075 Fenmore. Enochs Aff. ¶ 7. Enochs arranged for a controlled buy at that location that confirmed the presence and sale of illegal drugs there. Id. Enochs obtained a search warrant for 20075 Fenmore on December 13, 2006 from a magistrate of the (state) 36th District Court in Detroit. Id. ¶ 8.

A team was assembled to execute the search warrant. Enochs Aff. ¶ 9. Enochs was the officer in charge, and was also on the raid entry team whose job was to execute the search warrant and, as such, was standing by listening to the radio as an undercover officer walked up to 20075 Fenmore and attempted, unsuccessfully, to purchase drugs. Id. ¶ 9. Deputy Kelly radioed that the undercover officer was walking away from 20075 Fenmore as a blue car pulled up into the driveway, three men were leaving the house and looked like they were going to leave in the blue car. Id. ¶ 11. The raid team then approached 20075 Fenmore from up the street where they had been waiting. Id. ¶ 12. They knocked, no one answered, and they entered the house to execute the warrant. Id. Marijuana and crack cocaine were found inside and outside 20075 Fenmore packaged in a manner consistent with distribution. Id. ¶ 14.

The plaintiff, Devon Tindle, 17 years old, was playing video games at the house immediately to the north of 20075 Fenmore on the afternoon of the raid. Tindle dep. p. 20.*fn1 He left that house with some friends, got into the blue car identified by Officer Kelly, and he had driven down the road when his car was stopped by Wayne County Sheriff deputies. Id. p. 21. He was forced to lay on the ground on his stomach, he was handcuffed, and placed in the back of a Sheriff deputy's car. Id. p. 27-28. He was then taken to the house at 20075 Fenmore, along with the other occupants of the blue car. Id. According to Enochs, Sheriff's deputies arrived with Tindle after the house had been secured and while the deputies were still searching the house. Enochs Aff. ¶ 15. Tindle was taken to a back room at 20075 Fenmore for questioning. Id. p. 26. He was interrogated for two to three hours while handcuffed. Id. He denied that he had been at 20075 Fenmore and denied any involvement in any drug activity. Id. p. 32.*fn2 Tindle's parents were not notified throughout the course of the interrogation. Id. Finally, after two to three hours, Tindle was released with a misdemeanor citation for loitering in a drug house. Id. p. 21. The misdemeanor citation was ultimately dismissed. Id.

ANALYSIS

Tindle's complaint alleges four counts against Deputy Enochs. Count I is a state-law based claim for false arrest and false imprisonment; Count II is a claim for assault and battery; Count III is a claim for malicious prosecution; and Count IV asserts a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on false arrest and false imprisonment.

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue of material fact regarding the existence of an essential element of the nonmoving party's case on which the nonmoving party would bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Martin v. Ohio Turnpike Comm'n, 968 F.2d 606, 608 (6th Cir.1992).

In considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the facts and draw all reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party. 60 Ivy St. Corp. v. Alexander, 822 F.2d 1432, 1435 (6th Cir.1987). The Court is not required or permitted, however, to judge the evidence or make findings of fact. Id. at 1435-36. The moving party has the burden of showing conclusively that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Id. at 1435.

A fact is "material" for purposes of summary judgment if proof of that fact would have the effect of establishing or refuting an essential element of the cause of action or a defense advanced by the parties. Kendall v. Hoover Co., 751 F.2d 171, 174 (6th Cir.1984). A dispute over a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Accordingly, when a reasonable jury could not find that the nonmoving party is entitled to a verdict, ...


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