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Ingram v. Lupas

February 3, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas I. Vanaskie United States District Judge



Plaintiff Kai Dwayne Ingram, proceeding pro se, initiated this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants David Lupas, the Luzerne County Chief District Attorney, Daniel Beky, a Luzerne County Detective, and Stephen Kofchak, the Larksville Borough Assistant Chief of Police. (Compl., Dkt. Entry 1.) In essence, Mr. Ingram claims his Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated in connection with his arrest and detention on May 14, 2006, for the following reasons: Defendants illegally entered his home, his arrest was made without probable cause, the Affidavit of Probable Cause was not confirmed by the proper issuing authority, and he was not taken before a Magistrate Judge (Issuing Authority) before being detained. (Id.) Mr. Ingram also asserts federal law (and possibly state law) claims of false arrest, illegal detention and malicious prosecution. (Id. at 2.)

Presently before the Court are Motions to Dismiss by all Defendants, which will be treated as Motions for Summary Judgment. (Dkt. Entries 12 & 16.) Because Plaintiff has failed to make a sufficient showing of a violation of his constitutional rights, his civil rights claims will be dismissed. To the extent Plaintiff asserts any state law claims, the Court declines to exercise jurisdiction.


On May 14, 2006, gun shots were reported emerging from a tan colored van being driven by a black male named Kai. (Aff. Probable Cause, Dkt. Entry 1, at 3-6.) Several witnesses stated that Kai shot two adults, each twice, identified as Gregory Spears and Joshua Lopez. Kai was described by witnesses as a black male, about 5'10", 180 pounds, wearing a white t-shirt and baggy pants, and driving a tan van owned by Faith Lane.*fn1 (Id.)

After hearing the witnesses describe Mr. Ingram and his possible whereabouts, Officer Kofchak and Detective Beky attempted to locate Mr. Ingram at his mother's home. (Aff. Probable Cause, Dkt. Entry 1, at 4.) The officers spoke to Mr. Ingram's mother on the front porch and she agreed to let the officers enter the house.*fn2 (Suppression Hearing Transcript, Dkt. Entry 13-5, at 5.)

Mr. Ingram came downstairs, wearing a white t-shirt and tan baggy pants, which matched the description given by the witnesses. (Suppression Hearing Trans., Dkt. Entry 13-5, at 5.) Officer Beky informed Mr. Ingram that his name had been mentioned in connection with a crime and asked Mr. Ingram to accompany him to the police station for questioning. (Compl., Dkt. Entry 1, at 1.) Mr. Ingram willingly agreed, and proceeded to the police station. (Aff. Probable Cause, Dkt. Entry 1, at 4.)

While at the Police station, Mr. Ingram declined to answer any questions and asked for a lawyer. (Id.) The officers contacted District Attorney Lupas, who stated that the evidence sufficed to establish probable cause for Mr. Ingram's arrest. (Id.) Mr. Ingram was subsequently arrested and charged with the shooting of Gregory Spears and Joshua Lopez.

Before Mr. Ingram's case proceeded to trial, Mr. Ingram, represented by counsel, filed an Omnibus Pretrial Motion and a Motion to Suppress, alleging that certain statements were illegally obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Sections 8 and 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. (Pretrial Mot., Dkt. Entry 13-4, at 1.) Later, Mr. Ingram filed a Supplemental Omnibus Pretrial Motion, arguing the pat down and seizure of keys found in Mr. Ingram's pocket were performed illegally. (Supp. Pretrial Mot., Dkt. Entry 13-4, at 4.) He further argued that the search and seizure of his clothing violated his constitutional rights. (Id. at 4-5.)

A suppression hearing was held on April 30, 2007. Before the hearing, Defendant's counsel withdrew the request to suppress statements because counsel believed "there were no statements made by the defendant." (Suppression Hearing Trans., Dkt. Entry 13-5, at 3.) Mr. Ingram and Mr. Kofchak testified at the hearing as to the events that transpired on the night of the shooting. Judge Peter Paul Olszewski, Jr., made several findings of fact. He found that the police officers learned from witnesses that an individual had loaned her tan Ford Aerostar van to Kai, who left the scene in the van. The police also learned an address in Wilkes-Barre where Kai lived. (Id.) Judge Olszewski further found that the police officials "went to Kai's address where they encountered Kai's mother. She met--she allowed them into the home and indicated that Kai was upstairs." (Id.) Judge Olszewski then made the following conclusions of law:

The pat down of the defendant by the Chief is not contested by the defendant, and even if it was, the pat down search was fully permitted pursuant to Terry versus Ohio and its progeny in Pennsylvania case law which follows those legal precepts. . . .The seizure of the keys during the search of the defendant incident to arrest is proper and legal. The police seizure of the defendant's clothing was seized incident to his arrest and was proper and legal.

All credibility in this case is found to be in favor of Chief Kofchak and Detective Beky and against the defendant. (Suppression Hearing Trans., Dkt. Entry 13-5, at 11.)

Mr. Ingram's case then proceeded to trail. At trial, a jury convicted Mr. Ingram of two counts of aggravated assault and one count of carrying a firearm without a license. (Superior Ct. Decision, Dkt. Entry 13-9, at 1.) He then appealed his conviction, which was affirmed in a non-precedential opinion issued on February 20, 2008. (Dkt. Entry 13-8, at 5-6; Superior Ct. Decision, Dkt. Entry 13-9, at 1; Commonwealth v. Ingram, 951 A.2d 1211 (Pa. Super. 2008).*fn3

The Complaint alleges that, on May 14, 2006, Detective Beky illegally entered Mr. Ingram's home without a warrant and that no probable cause existed for his arrest. (Compl., Dkt. Entry 1, at 1.) Mr. Ingram further alleges he was illegally committed to the Luzerne County Correction Facility under false authority and did not see a Magistrate Judge (Issuing Authority) for approximately ten hours. (Id. at 2.) Defendants' actions allegedly violated Mr. Ingram's rights under the Fourth, Firth and Fourteenth Amendments, and amounted to false arrest, illegal detention and malicious prosecution. (Compl. at 2.) Mr. Ingram seeks damages from Attorney Lupas, in his individual capacity, for $2,000,000, and seeks damages from Officers Beky and Kofchak in the amount of $1,000,000 each. (Id. at 8.)


A. The Applicable Legal Standard

Defendants have labeled their motions as Motions to Dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (See Dkt. Entries 12 & 16.) Under Rule 12(b)(6), "courts generally consider only the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and documents that form the basis of a claim." Lum v. Bank of America, 361 F.3d 217, 222 (3d. Cir. 2004) (citing In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. Litig., 114 F.3d 1410, 1426 (3d Cir.1997)) ("Burlington"). A document forms the basis for a claim when it is "integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint." Burlington, 114 F.3d at 1426 (emphasis in original). The rationale for permitting consideration of such documents is "to prevent [ ] the situation in which a plaintiff is able to maintain a claim of fraud by extracting an isolated statement from a document and placing it in the complaint, even though if the statement were examined in the full context of the document, it would be clear ...

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