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Fillios v. Harahan Police Department

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 7, 2019




         Before the Court is the defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the plaintiff's first amended complaint. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.


         This civil rights lawsuit arises from Rayna Fillios's charge that members of the Harahan Police Department falsely arrested her and released a salacious press report containing factually inaccurate information concerning her arrest.

         On the evening of January 6, 2018, Ms. Fillios was at her home in Harahan, Louisiana with her boyfriend, Anthony Kennedy, when she called Mark Marks and requested that he deliver food to her residence. According to Ms. Fillios, Marks was “an acquaintance” who she had met a few weeks earlier in his capacity as an Uber driver. When Marks arrived at her residence, Fillios contends, she answered the door while clad in leggings and a sports bra. She then took the food from Marks, who turned and proceeded to return to his vehicle.

         Ms. Fillios further alleges that Kennedy became enraged upon noticing the exchange. Loudly voicing his suspicions concerning her infidelity and accusing Marks of molestation, Kennedy charged after Marks and punched him in the face. And when Marks retreated to the inside of his vehicle, Kennedy began to bang on the window while brandishing a knife and demanding Marks's wallet. Fearing for his life, Marks drove away and called 911.

         That same evening, Marks met with Officer Michael Dow and other members of the Harahan Police Department to discuss the incident. According to Ms. Fillios, Marks described “a drunken, violent assault . . . by Kennedy and attributed none of what happened . . . as being the responsibility of Fillios.” Nonetheless, Fillios contends, the officers traveled to her residence and arrested her for being a principal to armed robbery and a principal to second-degree battery. She was then transported to the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center, where she was incarcerated for approximately 61 days before she was able to meet her bond.[1]

         To support Fillios's arrest, Officer Dow obtained a victim statement from Mark Marks, after which he prepared an incident report and a probable cause affidavit. The Victim Statement of Mark Marks, dated January 7, 2018 at 12:33 a.m., and ostensibly signed by Mark Marks, [2] provides:

Rayana Fillios call and [sic] to get her something to eat. Brought waffle house. She opens door and come in. She was not wearing a shirt. When you I was leaving she grab me gave a hug and kiss. And bite my tongue. Turned to walked out the guy runs out and punch me in the face. The guy told you were to molest her. I said no just brought her food. Ran to my car lock doors and the guy runs to my driver door and started smacking my window. He had a knife in his right hand. White handle with 8 inch blade. The guy told me to open my f*****g door and give me your f*****g wallet I know loaded got money on you. I drove off and was on the phone with the police. I was scared and thought I was going to die. I belive Rayana was part of it. I belive she had me to come here so they could rob me.

         After obtaining Marks's statement, Officer Dow prepared a probable cause affidavit, in which he attested:

On noted date and time R/O [responding officer], along with assisting officers were dispatched to the area in reference to an attempted armed robbery. Upon arrival R/O learned from the victim that a girl, Rayna Fillios, and her boyfriend, Anthony Kennedy, had attempted to rob him. The victim also stated that Fillios had used his Uber services prior to this incident and gave him her phone number. On report date Fillios called him to come over, answered the door topless when he arrived, and after a brief conversation the victim attempted to leave as Fillios appeared to be teasing him. When he tried to leave Fillios grabbed him by the arms pulling him into her bare chest, kissed him, and bit his tongue to distract him while Kennedy got into position. The victim stated as soon as Fillios released him, Kennedy pulled a knife and ordered him to turn over his cash. The victim refused and Kennedy struck him in the chin knocking out one of his teeth. Kennedy fled the scene on foot to his residence nearby while Fillios stayed on location pretending as if she was not involved . . . . Kennedy went to the hospital then [sic] both later transferred to the JPCC for booking. Fillios has a stay-away order against Kennedy.

         Ms. Fillios alleges that, despite attesting in his probable cause affidavit that she was “topless” when she answered the door, Officer Dow stated in a police report that Fillios was wearing a “bra and legging tight pants.”

         The following day, on January 8, 2018, Chief Tim Walker of the Harahan Police Department issued a press release describing Fillios's arrest. Mirroring the account presented in Officer Dow's probable cause affidavit, the press release describes Fillios as “topless” when she greeted Marks at the door and suggests that she attempted to distract Marks while Kennedy “got into position” to rob him. Ms. Fillios alleges that the story of her arrest, as falsely represented by the Harahan Police Department's press release, went viral within hours of its dissemination. Garnering national and international media attention, accounts of the story were published by various news outlets, including USA Today, the New York Post, the Daily Mail, and the Hindustan Times.

         Ms. Fillios further alleges that, both before and after her arrest, Marks had told Officer Dow and other unidentified officers that Fillios had nothing to do with the attack perpetrated by Kennedy. And, while the matter was being investigated, Marks advised the Jefferson Parish District Attorney's Office that he personally drafted and signed his own handwritten statement and that the statement in the police file was not the one he had prepared.

         On August 19, 2018, Assistant District Attorney Emily Booth filed a Notice of Additional Information in Fillios's state court case to document Marks's conversation with the Jefferson Parish D.A.'s Office. The Notice provides:

1. Following the screening of this case, the victim, M.M., told Assistant District Attorney Ralph Alexis that, after contemplating what happened on the evening of the incident charged in this case, he did not think that Fillios was involved after all, despite what he told the police.
2. M.M. has advised th[e] undersigned that he never told the Harahan Police that he believed Fillios to be involved in this incident. M.M. denies making statements to ADA Alexis that he ever believed Fillios was involved. Regarding the written statement in this case, M.M. recalls writing out part of a statement that was shorter than the statement that is part of the police file in this case, which he signed with his signature and was given to the police. M.M. denies that the signature on the statement in the police file is his signature. As to the content of the statement in the police file (which is the written statement tendered in discovery), M.M. says that the content is all correct except for: (1) Fillios biting his tongue (M.M. says Fillios bit his chin) and (2) the portion ...

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