United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for
summary judgment [docket entry 70]. Plaintiff has responded
and defendants have replied. Pursuant to E.D. Mich. LR
7.1(f)(2), the Court shall decide this motion without a
3, 2014, at approximately 11:30 p.m., two men accosted and
shot Paris Ainsworth as she exited her vehicle outside her
Detroit home. Pulling her own gun, she returned fire. Her
attackers fled. Unsure if she had hit them, she ran across
the street to her neighbor's house, where she called 911.
An ambulance arrived shortly thereafter and transported her
to Sinai Grace Hospital.
same night at approximately 11:15 p.m., plaintiff arrived at
his mother's house, 4.5 miles away from Ainsworth's
house. For the next few hours, he ate, chatted on his phone,
played video games, and dressed for bed. He also took
pictures with his phone and posted them on Facebook. At 1:30
a.m. on May 4, plaintiff received a call that his father,
Charles Knox, had been shot by three armed men near
Knox's apartment, which is seven miles away from
Ainsworth's house. Plaintiff immediately went to Sinai
Grace Hospital, where Knox was taken. He saw Knox around 2:00
Detroit Police Department's (DPD's) response team for
both crimes consisited of detectives Calvin Washington, Jade
Tanguay, and Marshall Dennis. They inspected the scenes
immediately after dispatch received the 911 calls, and by
1:45 a.m. they were at the hospital to talk to Ainsworth and
Knox. Ainsworth described her attackers as two black males in
their twenties wearing dark clothing. She described one as
dark-skinned, 5'7'', and 200 lbs.; the other was
light-skinned, 5'4'', and had a medium build.
Ainsworth told the officers she may have shot one of them.
officers then visited Knox. Knox, who was forty-seven years
old at the time, told them where he was when he was shot, but
the officers thought he was lying. In fact, they began to
suspect that Knox and plaintiff were actually Ainsworth's
assailants and that Knox had been shot while he and
plaintiff-two black men in dark clothes-were holding her up.
shortly after 2:00 a.m., the detectives trooped into the
waiting room and began to question plaintiff. They left, but
returned a few minutes later and-with the permission of their
supervisor, Sergeant Lucas, whom they called in the
interim-arrested plaintiff, citing a fictional probation
violation as the reason for the arrest. By 3:00 a.m., they
had arrested plaintiff, and Officers Wesley and Moreau took
him to the Detroit Detention Center (“DDC”).
that morning, around 11:00 a.m., Investigator Latonya Moses
was assigned plaintiff's case. This was Moses's first
investigation as lead investigator. At 2:30 p.m., she and
Investigator Glenda Fisher conducted with Ainsworth a photo
lineup of both plaintiff and Knox. A show-up attorney
attended the photo lineup and found nothing suggestive.
Ainsworth chose plaintiff in thirty seconds, confidently
exclaiming, “That's him, that's him. Yes,
I'll never forget.” Pl.'s Br. p. 7. But when
Moses showed her Knox's lineup, she said, “[N]o, he
was younger.” Id. at 12.
5:00 p.m., Moses went to the DDC and took plaintiff's
statement. Plaintiff told Moses that he was at his mom's
house during the shooting. His alibi was proved, he told her,
by his posted Facebook pictures. He gave Moses his login
information so she could corroborate his story.
following day, Moses presented a warrant packet to assistant
prosecutor Matthew Penney. The packet wrongly stated that (1)
plaintiff and Knox came into the hospital together; (2) Knox
had refused to turn over the bullets that injured him; and
(3) hospital security detained plaintiff. Moses failed to
mention plaintiff's exculpatory Facebook posts or that
Knox was picked up by the ambulance seven miles from
trial, Moses sat at counsel table and assisted Penney. The
jury found plaintiff guilty of assault with intent to commit
murder, and he was sentenced to fifteen to thirty years
imprisonment. Plaintiff filed a petition for post-conviction
relief. Forensic testing of his phone in October 2015
verified his alibi: an investigator found that the Facebook
photos were “taken between 11:40 and 11:44 p.m. on May
3, 2014.” Id. at Ex. 36.
February 2016, the prosecutor dismissed all charges. Three
months later, plaintiff filed the instant case. Now,
defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) states that any party moving
for summary judgment must identify “each claim or
defense . . . on which summary judgment is sought. The court
shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” A party
must support its assertions by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations
(including those made for purposes of the motion only),
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials; or
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the
absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse
party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
Civ. P. 56(c)(1). “The court need consider only the
cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the
record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3). If the moving party
satisfies this burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving
party to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact
for trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). “[T]he mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
[nonmoving party's] position will be insufficient [to
defeat a motion for summary judgment]; there must be evidence
on which the jury could reasonably find for the [nonmoving
party].” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 252 (1986).
Plaintiff's Voluntary Dismissals
has agreed to voluntarily dismiss “Defendants Wesley
and Moreau from all claims. Plaintiff also voluntarily
dismisses his Fourteenth Amendment Brady violation
and suggestive identification claims and his state law claim
for intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Pl.'s Resp. p. 50 n.16. Investigator Fisher's only
connection with this case was her work on the photo
lineup-i.e., plaintiff's suggestive identification claim.
Accordingly, the Court dismisses the Brady,
suggestive identification, and IIED claims, as well as all
claims against defendants Wesley, Moreau, and Fisher.
Moses's Misrepresentations at Trial
correctly note that plaintiff cannot use Moses's witness
testimony to establish the existence of a tort or
constitutional violation, as witnesses are absolutely immune
from suit. Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325, 335-36,
342 (1983). Consequently, the Court will disregard
Moses's testimony in making its findings.
Federal Law Claims
asserts a false arrest claim against defendants Washington,
Tanguay, and Dennis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants
argue that there was probable cause for the arrest.
existence of probable cause in a § 1983 action presents
a jury question, unless there is only one reasonable
determination possible.” Wilson v. Morgan, 477
F.3d 326, 334 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Gardenhire v.
Schubert, 205 F.3d 303, 315 (6th Cir. 2000)).
“[P]robable cause exists only when the police officer
discovers reasonably reliable information that the suspect
has committed a crime.” Courtright v. City of
Battle Creek, 839 F.3d 513, 521 (6th Cir. 2016)
(quotation marks omitted). The facts and circumstances must
“warrant a prudent man in believing that”
plaintiff committed a crime. Id. The Court considers
the totality of the circumstances and both inculpatory and
exculpatory facts known to the arresting officer. Wesley
v. Campbell, 779 F.3d 421, 429 (6th Cir. 2015).
“Thus, if the officer discovers information or evidence
favorable to the accused in the course of an investigation,
the officer cannot simply turn a blind eye.”
Courtright, 839 F.3d at 521 (quotation marks
the Court, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to
plaintiff, finds that there is a genuine issue of material
fact as to probable cause. A reasonable jury could find that
the arresting officers lacked probable cause to arrest
plaintiff. The Court considers the facts known to the
arresting officers at the moment of arrest. See Crockett
v. Cumberland Coll., 316 F.3d 571, 580 (6th Cir. 2003).
Notably, plaintiff was arrested between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00
a.m.-i.e., before Moses conducted the photo lineup and
learned of plaintiff's Facebook alibi.
facts did the officers know at the moment of arrest? On the
one hand, Ainsworth told the officers that she may have shot
one of her assailants, and Knox had been shot. Also, both
Knox and plaintiff were black males wearing dark clothing. On
the other hand, Knox was much older and had a lighter
complexion than Ainsworth's second assailant. Knox was
shot several miles away from Ainsworth's house. Plaintiff
and Knox did not enter the hospital together. And the
description “black males in twenties in dark
clothing” is vague. How many thousands of black men in
their twenties live in and around Detroit? And how many of
those wear dark clothes? Too many for summary judgment. There
is a genuine issue of material fact as to probable cause.
prosecution includes “wrongful investigation,
prosecution, conviction, and incarceration.” Barnes
v. Wright, 449 F.3d 709, 725-16 (6th Cir. 2006). To
state a claim for malicious prosecution, plaintiff must show
that: (1) defendant “made, influenced, or participated
in the decision to prosecute” the criminal action
initiated against plaintiff; (2) the criminal prosecution
lacked probable cause; (3) because of the prosecution,
plaintiff suffered a deprivation of liberty apart from the
initial seizure; and (4) the criminal proceeding was resolved
in plaintiff's favor. Trakhtenberg v. Cty. of
Oakland, 661 F.App'x 413, 420-21 (6th Cir. 2016)
(quoting S ...