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Bailey v. City of Ann Arbor

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

June 20, 2017

Joseph Bailey, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
City of Ann Arbor; Christopher Fitzpatrick, William Stanford, and Michael Dortch, in their individual and official capacities, Defendants-Appellants.

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Flint. No. 4:14-cv-12002-Linda V. Parker, District Judge.

         ON BRIEF:

          Thomas L. Kent, CITY OF ANN ARBOR, Ann Arbor, Michigan, for Appellants.

          Shawn C. Cabot, CHRISTOPHER TRAINOR & ASSOCIATES, White Lake, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: KEITH, BATCHELDER, and SUTTON, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          SUTTON, Circuit Judge.

         In this qualified immunity case, Ann Arbor police officers relied on a security camera's footage of a robbery, allegedly without accounting for inconsistent eyewitness testimony, in drafting a search warrant for Joseph Bailey's residence. Yet the warrant did not say whether the description of Bailey came from the robbery victim or just the video and indeed mentioned both sources of information. The description thus was not deliberately false, and the district court erred in holding that it was. A review of the video also confirms that there were few disparities between the video and the description in the warrant. Even if we strip the warrant of any possible falsities, a fair probability remained that the officers would find evidence of the robbery in Bailey's home, meaning his Fourth Amendment claim under § 1983 fails as a matter of law. And because the warrant was the sole evidence of underlying unconstitutional conduct by Ann Arbor employees, his Monell claim fails as well.

         I.

         On the evening of April 9, 2012, two men wearing masks robbed the Broadway Party Store in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The security video shows that one masked man pointed a shotgun at the store clerk. As the video shows, and as readers can see for themselves, Ann Arbor News, Gunpoint Robbery at Ann Arbor Party Store (Apr. 19, 2012), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePP9fd0ckok, the gunman wore a black sweatshirt with a white skeleton pattern that zipped up to form a skull hood, along with a dark vest and blue jeans. The gunman's exposed hands appeared black to the store clerk and on the video. The gunman's accomplice took cash from the register and several bottles of champagne. The masked men fled half a minute after entering the store.

         The Ann Arbor Police Department investigated the robbery. About six weeks later, Detectives Christopher Fitzpatrick and William Stanford visited the house of Joseph Bailey's mother. She said her son wasn't home and showed the detectives his bedroom to prove it. The detectives saw a skeleton hoodie hanging on the bedroom door. Stanford prepared an affidavit for a search warrant later that day that noted that the gunman was "wearing a skeleton sweat shirt mask with the hood zipped in the front as a skull" and that the detectives had seen a similar sweatshirt in Bailey's room. The search warrant added that Stanford had received a tip from an unknown caller who said that Bailey, an African-American, had committed the robbery. A judge approved the search warrant for clothes, identifying documents, and money in the house, and the detectives seized the skeleton sweatshirt and other clothes.

         Later that day, Fitzpatrick and Stanford approached Bailey and arrested him after he fled from them into a wooded area. A grand jury indicted Bailey for armed robbery, possession of a short-barreled shotgun, and resisting arrest. The prosecutor dropped the first two charges, and Bailey pleaded guilty to the resistance charge.

         Bailey sued the City of Ann Arbor, Fitzpatrick, Stanford, and Detective Michael Dortch, the officer in charge of the investigation, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming they violated his Fourth Amendment rights. He claimed that the store clerk told Dortch that the gunman "was five feet/ten inches tall; was wearing a white mask (not a hoodie) that covered the entire head with insect-type/Spiderman eyes; was wearing a white coat; and did not know what type of pants or shoes were worn." R. 22 at 4. He claimed that the YouTube video of the robbery supported the store clerk's description of the suspect rather than the description of the gunman provided in the search warrant affidavit. And he claimed that Stanford never received an anonymous tip.

         The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. Relying on a magistrate judge's recommendation, the district court denied the detectives' motion to dismiss the search and seizure claim and the malicious prosecution claim based on the purported falsehoods in the search warrant affidavit. For similar ...


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