United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Anthony P. Patti United States Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING OAK PARK DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge
commenced suit against the Defendants alleging mistreatment
throughout his arrest and prosecution in 2014. In 2014
Plaintiff was mistakenly regarded as a suspect in a series of
bank robberies within the cities of Center Line and Oak Park.
Pending before the Court is Oak Park's Motion for Summary
Judgment. For the reasons that follow, the Court will GRANT
Oak Park's Motion .
6, 2016, a Comerica Bank located at 25192 Greenfield Road in
Oak Park, Michigan was robbed. Dkt. No. 1, p. 6 (Pg. ID 6).
Oak Park Officer Rachel Ginopolis investigated the robbery
and conducted preliminary interviews. Dkt. No.34-2, p. 2 (Pg.
ID 385). Statements were taken from both Krystal Jackson, the
teller who was held up, and another bank employee named
Courtnie Pierce. Id., pp. 5-6 (Pg. ID 388-89).
According to Ginopolis' report, Ms. Jackson described the
suspect as a thin, black male, who stood around
6'1” and had a dark complexion. Id. Ms.
Jackson further indicated that the robber stated, “I
need you to do this for me. I have a gun and will shoot that
lady, ” while nodding his head toward a female
customer. Id. In addition, the perpetrator passed
Ms. Jackson a folded note which suggested that he was armed.
Id. The other bank employee, Ms. Pierce, described
the suspect as a 6'3” black male with a slender
build and a scruffy beard. Id. Officer Ginopolis
then viewed surveillance footage of the suspect and attached
photographs from that footage to her report. Id.,
pp. 8-17 (Pg. ID 391-400).
same Comerica Bank was robbed again on May 12, 2014. Dkt. No.
1, p. 6 (Pg. ID 6). Oak Park Officer Erik Sanders responded
to the call and conducted his own interviews. Dkt. No. 34-4,
pp. 6-7 (Pg. ID 422-23). The bank teller, Shantell Woods,
described a similar scenario in which the suspect passed a
note under the window and then threatened to shoot a
bystander if she did not hurry. Id. Ms. Woods and
other witnesses informed Officer Sanders that they believed
the suspect to be the same individual who had robbed the
branch on May 6, 2014. Id. Again, witnesses
described the suspect as a thin, black male in his late
30's to early 40's, between 6'0” to
6'3” tall, with a dark complexion and a thin
Detective Brian Barker took over as the investigative officer
in charge of the case. Id. at p. 7-10 (Pg. ID
423-26). During his investigation, Detective Barker became
aware of a similar robbery that took place on May 19, 2014 at
a PNC Bank in Center Line, Michigan. Id. at p. 8
(Pg. ID 424). The Center Line Police Department obtained
pictures of the suspect from the surveillance footage and
released these photos to the media, seeking information from
the public in identifying the suspect. Id.
20, 2014, Detective Barker spoke with Center Line Detective
Curt Winn. Id. Winn informed Detective Barker that
the Center Line Police Department received two anonymous tips
identifying Plaintiff as the bank robbery suspect.
Id. The informants both stated that they worked with
Plaintiff at Ford Motor Company. Id. One informant
mentioned that Plaintiff had recently been absent from work
due to medical issues. Id. Detective Barker then
obtained pictures of Plaintiff from various databases and
compared those pictures to the surveillance photographs
obtained from the Center Line robbery and the May 12, 2014
Oak Park robbery. Id. To Detective Barker, the
photographs appeared to depict the same person. Id.
Barker met with Detective Winn and representatives from the
FBI and Lathrup Village on May 21, 2014. Id. The
Detectives decided to prepare a photo line-up including
Plaintiff's picture and ask the respective bank tellers
if they could identify the suspect. Id. That same
day, both Comerica Bank tellers (Krystal Jackson and
Shantelle Woods) positively identified Plaintiff as the
suspect. Id. Detective Barker learned from Detective
Winn that a Center Line PNC Bank teller also identified the
Plaintiff as the suspect. Id. In addition, Plaintiff
acknowledges in his deposition that at a glance there is a
resemblance between the pictures of him and the pictures of
the suspect. Dkt. No. 34-7, p. 20 (Pg. ID 510).
22, 2014, Detective Barker learned from Detective Winn that
the Macomb County Prosecutor had issued an arrest warrant for
Plaintiff. Dkt. No. 34-4, pp. 8 (Pg. ID 424). Detective
Barker, along with Oak Park Public Safety Detective Robert
Koch and Officer Devin Benson subsequently traveled to
Plaintiff's apartment in Sterling Heights, MI.
Id. Upon arrival, the officers learned that the
Warren Special Response Team entered the residence and took
Plaintiff into custody. Id. The Oak Park officers
then assisted the Center Line officers in searching the
was then transported to the Center Line Police Department,
where he agreed to be interviewed without an attorney
present. Id. at p. 9 (Pg. ID 425). According to the
report, Plaintiff stated that he has been an employee at Ford
Motor Company for 19 years but recently took around a month
off due to a recurrence of a back injury. Id.
Plaintiff also mentioned that he had filed for bankruptcy in
2009 and pays a significant amount of money each month in
child support. Id.
regard to the bank robberies, Plaintiff denied any
involvement but had trouble remembering where he had been
during the incidents at issue. Id. Also, Plaintiff
agreed to take a polygraph. Id. On May 23, 2014,
Plaintiff was arraigned in Macomb County and released on bond
from the Macomb County Jail. Id.
deposition, Detective Barker testified that the variance in
height between Plaintiff (5'10”) and the
witnesses' descriptions (6'0” to
6'4”) did not negate his probable cause
determination considering the positive identification by
three bank tellers. Dkt. No. 40-22, p. 6 (Pg. ID 996).
Detective Barker explained that it is not uncommon for
witnesses or victims of violent crimes to be
“off” in their physical description of
perpetrators. Id. Plaintiff's proposed expert,
William J. Cousins, likewise testified that a crime
witness's or victim's physical description of a
suspect can be influenced by the stress of a high-pressure
situation, such as an armed robbery. Dkt. No. 33-6, p. 25
(Pg. ID 288).
28, 2014, the PNC Bank branch in Center Line was robbed for a
second time. Dkt. No. 34-4, p. 9 (Pg. ID 425). At the request
of Center Line Detective Winn, officers from Sterling Heights
drove past Plaintiff's apartment and observed both of
Plaintiff's vehicles to be present. Id.
Detective Winn informed Detective Barker of the robbery and
the observation of Plaintiff's cars at his house.
30, 2014, Detective Barker presented his investigative file
to the Oakland County Prosecutor, who authorized an arrest
warrant for Plaintiff on four counts of bank robbery.
Id. On June 2, 2014, Plaintiff was arrested and
subsequently incarcerated until June 6, 2014 because he was
unable to afford the bondman's fees. Id.
4, 2014, T-Mobile sent Plaintiff's phone records to the
authorities. The records revealed that Plaintiff's cell
phone was in the area of his residence at the time of both
Oak Park robberies. Id. at p. 10 (Pg. ID 426).
Further, on July 31, 2014, Plaintiff underwent a polygraph
examination at the Oakland County Sheriff's office.
Id. The polygraph examiner concluded that Plaintiff
was being truthful when he denied connection to the Comerica
Bank robberies. Id.
August 5, 2014, all counts were dismissed without prejudice.
Id. On August 20, 2015, Plaintiff filed his
Complaint against the City of Oak Park; the City of Center
Line; Oak Park Department Of Public Safety Director Steve
Cooper; Oak Park Department Of Public Safety Officers Brian
Barker, Robert Koch and Devin Benson; Center Line Department
Of Public Safety Director Paul Myszenski; and Center Line
Department Of Public Safety Officer Curt Winn. Dkt. No. 1.
Plaintiff's seven-count Complaint alleges that Defendants
violated Plaintiff's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights, as well as violations of the Michigan Constitution
and state law claims of defamation, false imprisonment,
malicious prosecution, and false arrest. Id. at
16-25 (Pg. ID No. 16-25).
before the Court is a motion for summary judgment on behalf
of the Oak Park Defendants . Having reviewed the briefs
and supporting documents submitted by the parties, the Court
finds oral argument unnecessary. Accordingly, pursuant to
Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(e)(2), this Court
will decide the instant motion on the briefs.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) “directs that summary
judgment shall be granted if ‘there is no genuine issue
as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled
to a judgment as a matter of law.' ” Cehrs v.
Ne. Ohio Alzheimer's Research Ctr., 155 F.3d 775,
779 (6th Cir. 1998). The court must view the facts, and draw
reasonable inferences from those facts, in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). No genuine
dispute of material fact exists where the record “taken
as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find
for the non-moving party.” Matsushita Elec. Indus.,
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
Ultimately, the court evaluates “whether the evidence
presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a
jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must
prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson, 477
U.S. at 251-52.
Complaint asserts two federal claims and five state-law
I: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Violations of the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendment against the City of Oak Park
II: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Violations of the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendment against Individual Defendants in their
III: Deprivation of Rights Pursuant to the Michigan
V: False Arrest
VI: Malicious Prosecution
VII: False Imprisonment against all defendants
Court will discuss the federal claims first.
Section 1983 Claims Against Individual Defendants
1983 establishes “a cause of action for deprivation
under color of state law, of any rights, privileges or
immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States.” Horn v. Madison Cty. Fiscal Court, 22
F.3d 653, 656 (6th Cir. 1994). To prevail on this claim, a
plaintiff must demonstrate “(1) the deprivation of a
right secured by the Constitution or laws of the United
States (2) caused by a person acting under the color of state
law.” Dominguez v. Corr. Med. Servs., 555 F.3d
543, 549 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Sigley v. City of Parma
Heights, 437 F.3d 527, 533 (6th Cir. 2006)). However,
“[u]nder the doctrine of qualified immunity,
‘government officials performing discretionary
functions generally are shielded from liability from civil
damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly
established statutory or constitutional rights which a
reasonable person would have known.' ” Id.
(citations omitted). Thus, qualified immunity in any given
case is determined by a two-part inquiry: “First,
viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, has the plaintiff shown that a constitutional
violation has occurred? Second, was the right clearly
established at the time of the violation?” Id.
(citations omitted). Jones v. Muskegon Cty., 625
F.3d 935, 940-41 (6th Cir. 2010).
alleges Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations against
four individual Oak Park Defendants: Steve Cooper, Brian
Barker, Robert Koch and Devin Benson.
Defendant Steve Cooper is Entitled to Summary
City of Oak Park argues that Steven Cooper is entitled to
summary judgment because “there exists no genuine issue
of material fact that he was  personally involved in the
arrest, detention or prosecution of the Plaintiff.”
Dkt. No. 34, p. 2 (Pg. ID 345). The Court agrees.
Complaint only mentions Defendant Cooper three times. The
Defendant Steve Cooper is the Public Safety Director of
Defendant City of Oak Park and at all times mentioned in this
complaint was acting under the color of law and color of his
authority as the Public Safety Director of Oak Park,
Michigan…Defendant Cooper…[was] responsible
for the acts of the public safety officers…and [was]
responsible for the proper supervision of [his] officers.
Defendant Cooper…[was] also responsible for the
ongoing training of [his] respective public safety officers
to ensure that those officers were competent to carry out
their assigned duties.
No. 4 (Pg. ID 4). There is no allegation in the Complaint
that Defendant Cooper personally detained, arrested,
prosecuted or imprisoned the Plaintiff. Furthermore,
Plaintiff's briefs fail to specifically mention Defendant
Cooper, except in the case's caption. It seems that the
Plaintiff sought to proceed against Defendant Cooper pursuant
to a theory of vicarious liability or respondeat superior.
However, such a theory fails as a matter of law. See
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 676, 129 S.Ct.1937,
1948, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (“Because vicarious
liability is inapplicable to Bivens and § 1983
suits, a plaintiff must plead that each Government-official
defendant, through the official's own individual actions,