United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND
TERRENCE G. BERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ford, a Detroit property owner, brings this lawsuit claiming
that he was roughed up by Detroit Police Officers and
arrested without any probable cause. The City of Detroit and
the accused Officers are asking for summary judgment in their
favor, but there are questions of fact that must be
determined by a jury. Before the Court are Plaintiff's
Motion to Amend the Complaint (ECF No. 34) and
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
August 18, 2017, Plaintiff Emanuel Ford initiated this action
by filing the Complaint. ECF No. 1. The case was removed from
state court to the Eastern District of Michigan on September
7, 2017. Id. The allegations of the Complaint arise
out of Plaintiff's alleged unlawful arrest following a
2016 shooting at Plaintiff's Detroit rental property.
Id. Plaintiff brought claims against all Defendants
for false arrest and excessive force in violation of the
Fourth Amendment; against all Defendants for violation of
Plaintiff's due process rights under the Fourteenth
Amendment; against the City of Detroit for Monell
violations; against Defendants Svec and John Doe for state
law gross negligence and assault and battery; and two causes
of action to recover Plaintiff's handguns, concealed
carry permit, and cell phone, which were seized at the time
of his arrest. Id.
the course of this litigation, Defendants returned
Plaintiff's handguns, concealed carry permit, and cell
phone, rendering Plaintiff's causes of action to recover
the seized items moot. ECF No. 39, PageID.1088. Also during
discovery, Plaintiff identified the names of some of the
other Officers who were involved in his arrest. He therefore
asks leave to amend the Complaint to add their names.
Plaintiff also concedes that the City of Detroit Police
Department is not a separately suable entity, and Plaintiff
consents to the dismissal of the City of Detroit Police
Department from this action. Id. Additionally,
Plaintiff consents to dismissal of his state constitutional
claims, his gross negligence claim, and his Fourteenth
Amendment claims. Id. at PageID.1092-93.
Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment, Monell, and
assault and battery claims remain before the Court.
21, 2016, Emanuel Ford received somewhat frantic telephone
calls from some of his tenants reporting that a dispute
between the upstairs and downstairs tenants over placement of
a trashcan at his rental property had escalated into a gun
fight where shots were fired. Ford Dep., ECF No. 39-2,
PageID.1114. Plaintiff and his wife drove to the property,
located at 12798 Kentucky Street in Detroit (“rental
property”), and arrived shortly after the shooting had
ended and before any police officers had arrived.
Id. at PageID.1115. As Plaintiff parked on Kentucky
St., approximately three houses down from his rental
property, a marked police car drove down the street.
Id. Plaintiff flagged the officer down and informed
him that he was the landlord of the property at 12798
Kentucky St., that a shooting had just occurred, that there
were spent shell casings in the street, and that he was armed
with a handgun for which he had a concealed carry permit.
Id. at PageID.1116. The officer thanked Plaintiff
and repositioned his scout car to block off the street.
officer arrived from the opposite direction. Id.
Plaintiff repeated to the second officer what he told the
first officer. Id. at PageID.1117. The second
officer thanked Plaintiff and proceeded to Plaintiff's
rental property. Id. Plaintiff, standing near his
vehicle, observed an individual on a stretcher being
transported from the rental property into an ambulance.
Id. Sensing that there was no longer a need to be
armed, Plaintiff removed his weapon from his person, placed
it under a seat in his vehicle, and waited for police to
provide him with more information about what had happened at
his rental property. Id.
forty-five minutes later, Plaintiff was approached at his
vehicle by three police officers. Id. at
PageID.1119. Two officers were in uniform and one, Brian
Gibbings, was in plainclothes. Id. One of the
uniformed officers, Timothy Sumpter, asked Plaintiff for
permission to retrieve Plaintiff's handguns. Id.
at PageID.1120. Plaintiff allowed Sumpter to retrieve the two
handguns he had lodged under a seat in his vehicle and handed
Sumpter his driver's license and concealed carry permit.
Id. Gibbings then informed Plaintiff that the
officers wanted Plaintiff “to talk to some detectives
at the other end, you know, where the crime scene was”
and escorted Plaintiff to a police car parked near his rental
property. Id. at PageID.1121.
the pair arrived at the police car, Plaintiff testified that
Gibbings opened the door and told Plaintiff to get in.
Id. Plaintiff asked why he was being told to get
into the police car. Id. At that point, according to
Plaintiff, Defendant John Svec, a captain in the Detroit
Police Department, accused Plaintiff of lying to another
officer and “grabbed [Plaintiff] by the back of the
hand and slammed [Plaintiff] face forward into the police
car.” Id. Svec then instructed Gibbings to
“take care of him.” Id. Gibbings
“started putting his fists, felt like his fists . . .
into the middle of [Plaintiff's] back.”
Id. at PageID.1122. As Gibbings forcefully
handcuffed Plaintiff, Plaintiff began “screaming,
hollering . . . [and] crying.” Id. at
PageID.1121. Plaintiff, “partially laid across the
[back] seat” of the police car, requested medical
attention. Id. at PageID.1123. Another ambulance
responded to the scene, Plaintiff received medical attention,
and was transported to Sinai-Grace hospital. Id. at
PageID.1129. Officers did not accompany Plaintiff to the
hospital. Plaintiff has not been charged with an offense in
connection with the shooting.
parties dispute whether Defendant Svec and the other officers
had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff on June 21, 2016.
Defendant Svec testified that after arriving on the scene, he
received a radio call from another officer, Jason Lord, who
had responded to Sinai-Grace hospital after an individual
injured in the shooting had been transported there. Svec
Dep., ECF No. 35-2, PageID.1052. Svec testified that in the
radio transmission, Lord stated that he learned from an
individual at the hospital that “the landlord was
involved in the shooting.” Id. Based on
Lord's radio transmission and Plaintiff's possession
of a weapon with a spent shell casing,  Svec ordered
Plaintiff's arrest because “[i]n my mind we had
enough to arrest him. He was being arrested for the
record includes a number of official police reports that
contain time stamps that appear to record the exact time when
each entry in the report took place. For example, the police
report entered by Sumpter on June 22, 2016 states that he
recovered Plaintiff's two firearms at 6:50:50 and 6:50:54
P.M. Ex. J, ECF No. 34-11, PageID.994-95. This style of
report is clearly a computerized form and is printed. Neither
counsel could explain, at oral argument, how exactly the
time-referents in the report were generated. Another kind of
report in the record was a handwritten report called an
“activity log.” That report was kept to record
the runs conducted by the scout car, operated by Officers
Jason Lord and Margie Everett, which responded to Sinai-Grace
on the night of the shooting. According to that report, the
pair arrived at Sinai-Grace at “19:03”, or 7:03
P.M. Ex. H, ECF No. 39-9, PageID.1174. Lord testified that he
made the radio call in question after arriving at the
hospital and speaking with an individual involved in the
shooting. Lord Dep., ECF No. 39-7, PageID.1164. At his
deposition, Lord could not recall who told him that Plaintiff
was involved in the shooting. Id. at PageID.1168.
Everett did not recall anyone telling her that Plaintiff was
involved in the shooting. Everett Dep., ECF No. 39-8,
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
contend that they are entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment false arrest claim because
Svec had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff at the scene on
June 21, 2016. ECF No. 35, PageID.1011. Defendants argue that
Lord's radio transmission that “the landlord was
involved in the shooting”, coupled with the
officers' knowledge that semiautomatic handgun shell
casings were found at the scene, that Plaintiff possessed a
semiautomatic handgun, and that Plaintiff's handgun
contained a spent shell casing, provided sufficient probable
cause for Plaintiff's arrest. Id. at
PageID.1012. Defendants further assert that even if Svec was
given erroneous information about Plaintiff's involvement
in the shooting by Lord, Svec is entitled to qualified
immunity for his reasonable reliance on information provided
to him by another police officer-even if it later turned out
to be erroneous. Id. at PageID.1018.
attacks the sufficiency of probable cause based on the
inconsistency in the timeline between Svec's testimony
and the recorded time-stamps contained in the computerized
reports and the hand-written time-entries on the activity log
of Lord and Everett. According to Svec, he had Plaintiff
arrested only after the call came over the radio from
officers at the hospital reporting that the landlord may have
been involved in the shooting. This call would have occurred,
according to the time entries on the police activity log of
the officers at the hospital, at some point after 7:03 p.m.
But according to the computerized reports, the seizure of
Plaintiff's firearms-which supposedly took place at
approximately the same time as his arrest-had occurred at
6:50:50 and 6:50:54 P.M. Pointing to this inconsistency,
Plaintiff maintains that because the radio transmission from
Lord that Svec purportedly relied on either occurred after
Plaintiff had already been arrested, or perhaps did not occur
at all, there was no probable cause to support his arrest.
ECF No. 39, PageID.1104. Plaintiff asserts that without the
radio transmission, “[o]ther than having a gun, the
officers had no reason to believe Plaintiff had been
respect to Plaintiff's other claims, Svec contends that
he did not use excessive force in “slamming”
Plaintiff face-forward into the police cruiser, and that he
is entitled to state qualified immunity for Plaintiff's
assault and battery claims. ECF No. 35, PageID.1020-26.
Defendant City of Detroit contends that Plaintiff “has
not produced a single shred of evidence in the process of
discovery that would sustain a Monell claim.”
Id. at PageID.1026.
contends that force applied by Svec was excessive, and that
Svec is responsible for the force applied by his inferior
officers. ECF No. 39, PageID.1102. With respect to qualified
immunity for Plaintiff's assault and battery claims under
Michigan's governmental tort immunity statute, Plaintiff
contends that Defendants are not entitled to qualified
immunity because Svec did not have probable cause to arrest
Plaintiff. ECF No. 39, PageID.1103. Plaintiff asserts that
because Svec lacked probable cause, the arrest cannot be said
to have been undertaken in good faith-a requirement to
establish qualified immunity under state law. Id. at
PageID.1103. Finally, with respect to Plaintiff's
Monell claim, Plaintiff asserts that the allegations
in the Complaint are sufficient, and were the Court to
disagree, the additional details included in the proposed
amended complaint suffice to establish Plaintiff's
Monell claim. Id. at PageID.1105.