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Sanders v. Oakland County

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 29, 2017




         This is a civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising from incidents involving Plaintiff Durone Jamal Sanders (“Plaintiff”) and Defendants Oakland County, Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard (“Defendant Bouchard”), and Detective Mark Ferguson (“Defendant Ferguson”) (collectively “Defendants”). Plaintiff is seeking monetary damages based on violations of his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution and corresponding provisions of the Michigan Constitution, including false arrest, imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. (ECF No. 1.)

         Plaintiff has alleged that Defendant Bouchard has violated his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by conspiring with Defendant Ferguson to deprive Plaintiff of his Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments rights through false arrest, imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. (Compl. ¶ 38.) Plaintiff also contends that Defendant Bouchard is liable in his role as a supervisor to Defendant Ferguson for the alleged constitutional violations. (Id. ¶¶ 50-63.) Plaintiff argues that Defendant Oakland County violated his civil rights under a theory of municipal liability, alleging that the county had a custom or practice of tolerating the violations of constitutional rights by their deputy sheriffs. (Id. ¶¶ 42-49.)

         Presently before the Court is Defendants Oakland County and Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard's motion for summary judgment, filed pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 56 on July 28, 2016. (ECF No. 47.) Plaintiff filed an untimely response on September 15, 2016. (ECF No. 62.)[1] The motion has been fully briefed. The Court finds the legal arguments adequately presented in the parties' papers such that the decision-making process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Therefore, the Court is dispensing with oral argument with respect to the motions pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons that follow, the Court is granting Defendants' motion.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Defendant Ferguson was a detective and deputy sheriff for the Oakland County Sheriff's Department. (ECF No. 46 at Pg ID 267.) He was also a member of the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team (“NET”). (Id.). As an officer of NET, Defendant Ferguson was responsible for drug investigations, which included finding confidential informants and overseeing drug buys, arrests, or executions of search warrants stemming from the work of the confidential informant. (ECF No. 46-4 at Pg ID 402.) When an officer's confidential informant was involved in an investigation, the officer was deemed the “officer in charge” and responsible for preparing the NET Case Report. (Id.)

         A man with the street name “Flip” was the subject of one of Defendant Ferguson's investigations. (ECF No. 46 at Pg ID 268.) Through the use of two confidential informants, Defendant Ferguson identified Plaintiff as “Flip”.[2] (Id.) The first interaction between a confidential informant and Flip occurred on March 6, 2012, [3] when a controlled buy of cocaine occurred. (ECF No. 60 at Pg ID 896.) Confidential Informant 1 (“CI 1”) notified Defendant Ferguson that he would be driving Flip to Detroit to purchase drugs. (ECF No. 46 at Pg ID 269.) Defendant Ferguson alleges that he followed the vehicle along with other officers, including Officer Doty and Sgt. Jennings. (Id.)

         On March 8, 2012-two days later-Defendant Ferguson and Officers Richter, Bearer, Miles, Loken, and Pankey stopped a van driven by CI #1 on I-75. (ECF No. 46-6 at Pg ID 419-21; see also ECF Nos. 46 at Pg ID 269-70; 60 at Pg ID 898.) Plaintiff was a rear seat passenger in the van. (ECF No. 60 at Pg ID 898.) Defendant Ferguson alleges the reason for the stop stemmed from a conversation with CI #1, who alerted Defendant that “he would be driving Flip to Detroit to purchase more drugs[.]” (ECF No. 46 at Pg ID 269.) Defendant Ferguson, along with his fellow officers, followed the van from Pontiac to Detroit and back again. (Id.) CI #1's van was equipped with a recording device that allowed the officers to remotely monitor the conversation. (Id.) During his deposition, Defendant Ferguson testified that he called CI #1 on his cell phone during this surveillance and also received confirmation that the drugs had been obtained. (Id.)

         When the vehicle was stopped, Plaintiff and the remaining occupants exited the vehicle where they were subjected to a pat down, handcuffed, and detained for 40 minutes while the officers searched the vehicle. (Id. at Pg ID 270.) No drugs were found on Plaintiff. (Id.) This incident was summarized in Defendant Ferguson's case report. (ECF No. 46-6 at Pg ID 421-22.)

         A second controlled buy occurred on July 31, 2012. Confidential Informant #2 (“CI #2”) was observed entering a home to meet with Flip to purchase 1.0 grams of heroin. (ECF No. 46 at Pg ID 270-71.) Defendant Ferguson, Officer Richter, and CI #2 all recalled this controlled buy. (Id. at Pg ID 271.)

         That same day, Defendant Ferguson returned to his office to prepare a search warrant for the home that the second controlled buy occurred in, 18 Jefferson. (Id. at Pg ID 272.) Defendant Ferguson took the search warrant and affidavit in support of the warrant to the 50th District Court in Pontiac, Michigan, where it was authorized by Judge Preston G. Thomas. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges he only received one page of the warrant, and never received the affidavit in support of the warrant.[4](ECF No. 60 at Pg ID 901.) Defendant Ferguson alleges he has not seen the affidavit since the date of the search, July 31, 2012. (ECF No. 46 at Pg ID 272.)

         After obtaining authorization for the warrant, the following members of NET executed the search warrant at Plaintiff's home: Defendant Ferguson, Officers Pankey, Bearer, Richter, and Sgt. Jennings. (Id. at Pg ID 273.) Officers found a joint of marijuana, 1.4 grams, during the search along with $334 in cash. (Id.; see also ECF No. 60 at Pg ID 901.) Both items were seized.[5] (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that officers were responsible for “considerable damage to the home, damaging Plaintiff's personal property as well as the front door of the home, which required repairs.” (ECF No. 60 at Pg ID 901.)

         On August 29, 2012, a third controlled buy occurred with CI #2. (ECF No. 46 at Pg ID 274.) Defendant Ferguson and Officer Pankey observed CI #2 enter Plaintiff's vehicle to purchase 0.2 grams of crack cocaine. (Id.) The officers observed Plaintiff drive around with CI #2 in the car. (Id.) Defendant Ferguson prepared a case report and logged to the cocaine into the NET property room. (Id.)

         The next controlled buy occurred on September 5th, where CI #2 purchased 0.2 grams of heroin at the back door of Plaintiff's home at 18 Jefferson. (Id.) Defendant Ferguson, Officer Pankey, and Officer Richter observed this control buy. (Id.)

         Defendant Ferguson and CI #2 attempted to arrange another controlled buy the next day. (ECF No. 46 at Pg ID 275.) According to Defendants, CI #2 called Plaintiff while the informant was with Defendant Ferguson to arrange a meeting location. (Id.) Plaintiff suggested another meeting location, and CI #2 met him there shortly. (Id.) After getting into his truck, Plaintiff drove around for “at least an hour without any drugs being delivered.” (Id.) Due to concern for the informant's safety, the officers decided to arrest Plaintiff based on his prior drug sales. (Id.) During booking, Officer Bell found 2.2 grams of marijuana in Plaintiff's left sock. (Id.) Defendant Ferguson stated that he was not present for the stop, arrest, or booking but recalls Officer Bell delivering the marijuana to him afterward. (Id.)

         Plaintiff disputes that he was meeting with an individual for a drug deal. Rather, Plaintiff contends he was on his way home to pick up a grocery list and go shopping when he was pulled over by the officers. (ECF No. 60 at Pg ID 903.) Plaintiff testified during his deposition that he “did not sell drugs to anyone at any time during the year 2012.” (Id. at Pg ID 904.)

         Plaintiff was incarcerated as a pretrial detainee while he awaited a hearing in the 50th District Court to the Oakland County Circuit Court. (ECF No. 46 at Pg ID 276.) Plaintiff was charged with 3 violations of the Michigan Controlled Substance Act, Mich. Comp. Laws § 333.7401(2)(a)(iv) for the delivery of cocaine on August 29th, delivery of heroin on September 5th, and misdemeanor possession of marijuana during his September 6th arrest.. (Id.) On September 8th, Plaintiff was also charged with misdemeanor possession ...

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