United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
TERRENCE W. GLASTER
CITY OF MANSFIELD, ET AL
ELIZABETH E. FOOTE, District Judge.
Before the Court are two motions to dismiss the Plaintiff's claims [Record Documents 7 and 9]. The first motion to dismiss was filed by Defendants, City of Mansfield and the Mansfield Police Department, by and through the City of Mansfield, wherein they argue that the Mansfield Police Department has no capacity to be sued [Record Document 7]. The Plaintiff, Terrance W. Glaster ("Glaster"), has filed a letter with the Court stating that he has no opposition to the granting of this motion [Record Document 12].
Defendant, the City of Mansfield, is correct that the Mansfield Police Department is not a juridical person because it is a department of the City of Mansfield. As such, it has no capacity to be sued. See Lavergne v. Lafayette City Police Dept., No. 13-2146, 2014 WL 931517, at *4 (W.D. La. March 6, 2014). Therefore, the Defendants' motion to dismiss [Record Document 7] is GRANTED.
The second motion to dismiss was filed by Defendant Chief Gary Hobbs ("Hobbs") [Record Document 9]. In this motion, Hobbs seeks to dismiss all claims the Plaintiff filed against him in his individual and official capacities. The Plaintiff opposes the Defendant's motion. [Record Document 14]. For the reasons that follow, Defendant Hobbs' motion to dismiss [Record Document 9] shall be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND.
On December 24, 2012, LaDerrick Hadnott ("Hadnott") was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head at a house on Topeka Street in Mansfield, Louisiana. Mansfield Police Department Sergeant Billy Locke ("Locke") was the lead investigator of the shooting, and Plaintiff alleges that Hobbs directly participated in the investigation. Plaintiff claims that Locke and Hobbs did not collect any physical evidence at the scene beyond the bullet that killed Hadnott. Locke did not collect fingerprints, hair, DNA or other forensic evidence. Locke did not locate the murder weapon and only secured the crime scene for one hour and twenty-eight minutes.
In the days following the murder, Locke interviewed Glaster. Glaster told Locke that he had been watching football at a friend's house the night of the murder and returned home to his family at the end of the game. Glaster provided Locke with his girlfriend's contact information, but Locke never followed up with her to verify Glaster's whereabouts on the night of the murder.
Witnesses interviewed by Locke informed him that Hadnott had been involved in a physical altercation with several other people in the days prior to the shooting. On December 1, 2012, Hadnott stabbed a man named Sky Jones at a Mansfield nightclub. Glaster believes the intended target of the stabbing was a man named JaCoby Marshall. Plaintiff states that officers of the Mansfield Police Department, including Locke and Hobbs, knew that Hadnott was accused of stabbing Sky Jones at a nightclub three weeks before he was shot.
On January 24, 2013, the Mansfield Police Department's Crimestoppers program announced a reward for information regarding the shooting. On that same day, Locke and Hobbs interviewed Anthony Jackson ("Jackson"), a police informant who had worked with Locke in the past. Jackson claimed that at 2:30 a.m. on the night of the murder, he was standing outside on the side of his home, when he heard a gunshot and saw Glaster exit Haddnot's house with a black nine millimeter. Jackson stated that Glaster "got into it" with the victim "at the club", and that the victim "cut [him] up." Jackson said the Glaster told him, "[T]hat man cut me, I come back to revenge."
However, Plaintiff lists several inconsistencies in Jackson's story. Those inconsistencies include the fact that Jackson claims that he was less than ten feet from the shooter, who was running from the scene to a trail that leads to railroad tracks behind the victim's house, when, in fact, those tracks are across the street from Jackson's house. Jackson also stated that he witnessed these events sometime between 2:00 a.m and 2:30 a.m., after returning home from a nightclub. However, Mansfield does not allow any bars or clubs that sell alcohol to operate on Sunday night or Monday morning between those hours, which is a fact Hobbs and Locke would have known.
On January 25, 2013, the day after Hobbs and Locke interviewed Jackson, Glaster was arrested and charged with Hadnott's murder, based solely upon Jackson's statement. On February 13, 2013, a DeSoto Parish Grand Jury returned a "no true bill" in the case, and Glaster was released.
On February 18, 2013, Locke was contacted by a police informant, who claimed that he could obtain a recording of Glaster admitting to the murder. Locke met with the informant and followed him to a location where the informant planned to meet with Glaster. In a written report, Locke stated that he witnessed Glaster entering the informant's vehicle, and the informant subsequently brought him a recording of what transpired inside the vehicle. The recording is approximately two minutes long and consists of a male entering the vehicle, briefly and spontaneously admitting to the murder, and then exiting the vehicle. Glaster states that the voice on the recording is not his voice.
The case was presented to the Grand Jury, and Glaster believes that the recording was presented therein, along with Locke's testimony identifying Glaster as the person who entered the informant's vehicle. The Grand Jury returned an indictment against Plaintiff, charging him with second degree murder. On March 21, 2013, Plaintiff was incarcerated in the DeSoto Parish Detention Center and his bond was set at $750, 000.
At a later court appearance, Locke admitted that he had not actually witnessed Glaster entering the informant's vehicle. Locke admitted that he had only seen someone who he thought resembled the Plaintiff but that he did not actually know whether Plaintiff was the man who entered the informant's vehicle. The prosecution of Plaintiff continued until November 14, 2013, at which time the DeSoto Parish District Attorney's office dismissed the charges against him. Plaintiff's arrest was widely reported in print, television and internet news outlets. During the prosecution of Plaintiff, Hobbs was made the Chief of Police by the City of Mansfield. Plaintiff states that Hobbs knew Locke admitted in sworn testimony that he did not witness the Plaintiff enter the informant's vehicle, as he stated in his written report. Hobbs took no disciplinary action against Locke.
Plaintiff filed suit against the City of Mansfield, the Mansfield Police Department, Locke, and Hobbs alleging that they violated his constitutional rights. Glaster states that "Sgt. Locke knowingly attempted to improperly and maliciously bolster the credibility of the informant by stating in his written report that he personally saw Glaster at the Grove Street residence and indicating that he was an eyewitness to Glaster entering the informant's vehicle." Plaintiff claims that Locke "knowingly and maliciously misled both the Assistant District Attorney and the Court regarding his disclosure of the identity of the informant in order to preserve the strength of the case against Glaster." Hobbs was made aware of Locke's conduct and statements at the May 22, 2013 court appearance but did not take any disciplinary or investigative action against Locke. Plaintiff also claims that additional exculpatory evidence was obtained by Locke after a July 17, 2013 hearing but was never provided to Plaintiff's counsel. Although Glaster described in some detail the way in which the City of Mansfield may be municipally liable to him, the sum total of his statement of the law and application thereof to Hobbs' individual liability is:
As a result of the above-described conduct, the Defendants deprived Glaster of his constitutional rights to be free from unjust and unreasonable seizure and detention, and to be free from unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, and malicious prosecution pursuant to the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1988.
This bald recitation of constitutional amendments is all that is provided to the Court regarding Plaintiff's argument that Defendant Hobbs' is in violation of federal law. Additionally, Plaintiff makes several state law claims against Defendants, including the torts of false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and civil conspiracy. These, too, lack specific statements of law or analysis of these claims to the facts presented in the amended complaint.
Defendant Hobbs filed the instant Motion To Dismiss [Record Document 9], invoking the affirmative defense of qualified immunity and alleging that there were insufficient facts to support the above claims against Hobbs in his individual and official capacity. Plaintiff thereafter filed an Amended Complaint [Record Document 13], which included additional facts "focusing specifically on the conduct of Chief of Police Gary Hobbs." Plaintiff filed a Response to the Motion To Dismiss [Record Document 14], and Hobbs filed a Reply thereto [Record Document 17].
II. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8 requires a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief. A complaint is not required to contain detailed factual allegations, however, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)(internal marks and citations omitted). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2008) (internal marks omitted). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the ...