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Abdul-Khaliq v. City of Newark

March 12, 2007

OMRAN ABDUL-KHALIQ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF NEWARK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Smith

Magistrate Judge Kemp

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Omran Abdul-Khaliq asserts federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Defendants the City of Newark and Patrolmen Art Minton, Eric Cook, and Kyle Gross violated his constitutional rights when they arrested Plaintiff at his home for disorderly conduct.

Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on all claims asserted by Plaintiff (Doc. 41). Plaintiff filed his response in opposition (Doc. 52), and Defendants then filed their Reply (Doc. 61). Then, Plaintiff moved to strike part of Defendants' Reply, or in the alternative, to file a sur-reply (Doc. 63). That motion was also fully briefed and both motions are now ripe for review. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Strike.

I. FACTS

The Plaintiff, Mr. Omran Abdul-Khaliq, is an African-American Muslim and resident of Newark, Ohio. Plaintiff resides at 924 Glenmore Avenue, Newark, Ohio with his girlfriend Melinda Fairburn and their six year old son. Defendants Arthur Minton, Eric Cook and Kyle Gross are employed as police patrolmen with the City of Newark.

One March 4, 2003, Newark Police Dispatch received a 911 call of a home invasion and child abduction at 924 Glenmore Avenue (Plaintiff's residence). Dispatch noticed Defendants, Officers Gross, Minton, and Cook, to respond to the call. Officers Gross, Minton, and Cook arrived at the address and began questioning witnesses. Officer Gross, who arrived first, questioned a woman who was standing in the street, Naomi Wilder. Officers Cook and Gross then questioned Ms. Fairburn regarding the incident. She explained that four armed males entered their home, demanded money, and went through the house. She further explained that her child had not been abducted. She also gave the officers a description of the vehicle that the invaders had driven away in and Officer Gross notified Dispatch to have all units looking for this vehicle.

When the home invaders left Plaintiff's residence, Plaintiff called the police, then he chased them in his car. Plaintiff, however, could not catch them and returned home. Upon returning home, Plaintiff claims that he was confronted by Defendant Cook outside of his residence and falsely accused of having a gun. Defendant Gross, however, discussed the possibility of Plaintiff having a gun with the witness Ms. Wilder and Plaintiff's girlfriend. Plaintiff claims that he became upset with the way he was treated, especially because he had just been the victim of a home invasion.

The officers attempted to pat Plaintiff down, but he repeatedly refused. Plaintiff was yelling, cursing and refusing to cooperate. Officer Cook then ordered Plaintiff to place his hands on the car directly behind him, but again he repeatedly refused. Plaintiff then stepped backwards and lifted his jacket. The officers described this action as a defensive and aggressive posture. Fearing Plaintiff may be drawing a weapon, Officer Cook administered a small dose of pepper spray. Plaintiff describes the situation, "before I know it, I'm yelling back and forth, they're yelling back at me, where's the gun, where's the gun. It's like I ain't got no fucking gun. The next thing I know, I'm opening my coat [trying to say] what gun, what gun. But, I got sprayed with mace." (Khaliq Depo. pp. 77-78).

Defendants Gross and Cook then grabbed Plaintiff, took him to the ground, and handcuffed him. Plaintiff claims that he was searched for no reason. He further claims that he could not breathe or see and asked for something to wash out his eyes. He was not given anything until after he had been taken to the police station. Defendant Cook transported Plaintiff to the Newark Police Department to process his arrest. Plaintiff was charged with disorderly conduct and possessing a weapon under disability.

Defendant Minton searched the scene for further evidence and found a gun in the snow some ways from Khaliq's house. Defendant Cook also found a bag of crack cocaine in the ashtray in the back of his police cruiser after Khaliq was transported to the County Jail. Consequently, Plaintiff Khaliq was also charged with possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence. The charges of disorderly conduct and possessing a weapon under disability were eventually dropped. A grand jury indicted Plaintiff for possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence, however, a jury unanimously acquitted him of those charges at trial.

Defendant Gross continued trying to investigate the home invasion. He asked Plaintiff about the men who entered his home but he refused to offer any assistance. Officer Gross took written statements from both Ms. Wilder and Ms. Fairburn and took photographs of Plaintiff's house. The surrounding area was also searched to see if the invaders dropped anything. Defendant Gross also returned back to Plaintiff's residence later that night to ask Ms. Fairburn if she would be willing to describe the invaders to a police sketch artist. She said that she could not.

Prior to Plaintiff's trial, he was released on bond and placed on house arrest. Plaintiff claims that this incident, and overall being arrested for a crime he did not commit, caused him emotional distress. Plaintiff also claims that a copy of his NCIC report was illegally given to the Newark Advocate and information from that report was published in an article about him on March 7, 2003. In the article, Plaintiff was accused of being a drug dealer and he claims that his reputation was ruined as a result.

Plaintiff also alleges numerous other facts to insinuate that the Newark Police Department is racist, such as Newark's police personnel have used the word nigger, they have only ever had one African-American police officer, and that they have a practice of discriminating against other African-Americans.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT

The standard governing summary judgment is set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), which provides:

The judgment sought shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Summary judgment will not lie if the dispute about a material fact is genuine; "that is, 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). Summary judgment is appropriate, however, if the opposing party fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); see also Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588 (1986).

When reviewing a summary judgment motion, the Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and must refrain from making credibility determinations or weighing the evidence. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150-51 (2000).*fn1 The Court disregards all evidence favorable to the moving party that the jury would not be not required to believe. Id. Stated otherwise, the Court must credit evidence favoring the nonmoving party as well as evidence favorable to the moving party that is uncontroverted or unimpeached, if it comes from disinterested witnesses. Id.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has recognized that Liberty Lobby, Celotex, and Matsushita have effected "a decided change in summary judgment practice," ushering in a "new era" in summary judgments. Street v. J.C. Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1476 (6th Cir. 1989). The court in Street identified a number of important principles applicable in new era summary judgment practice. For example, complex cases and cases involving state of mind issues are not necessarily inappropriate for summary judgment. Id. at 1479.

Additionally, in responding to a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party "cannot rely on the hope that the trier of fact will disbelieve the movant's denial of a disputed fact, but must 'present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment.'" Id. (quoting Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 257). The nonmoving party must adduce more than a scintilla of evidence to overcome the summary judgment motion. Id. It is not sufficient for the nonmoving party to merely "'show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'" Id. (quoting Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586).

Moreover, "[t]he trial court no longer has a duty to search the entire record to establish that it is bereft of a genuine issue of material fact." Id. at 1479-80. That is, the nonmoving party has an affirmative duty to direct the court's attention to those specific portions of the record upon which it seeks to rely to create a genuine issue of material fact. In re Morris, 260 F.3d 654, 665 (6th Cir. 2001).

III. ANALYSIS

The Court will first address Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Part of Defendants' Reply before addressing the substantive issues in ...


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