Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Tanesha Henderson v. Officer William Bailey

March 31, 2011

TANESHA HENDERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICER WILLIAM BAILEY, DEFENDANT.
TORI SCOFIELD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
OFFICER WILLIAM BAILEY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLAUGHLIN, Sean J., District J.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs Tanesha Henderson and Tori Scofield commenced separate but related federal civil rights actions under 28 U.S.C. § 1983 after they were arrested on charges of aggravated assault by the Defendant, Officer William Bailey of the Erie Police Department. The Defendant has filed motions for summary judgment in each case. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over both civil actions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343(a). For the reasons set forth below, the Defendant‟s motions will be denied.

I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment must be granted when no genuine dispute exists as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "A disputed fact is "material‟ if it would affect the outcome of the suit as determined by the substantive law," Bouriez v. Carnegie Mellon Univ., 585 F.3d 765, 771 (3d Cir.2009) (citation omitted), and a factual dispute is "genuine," and thus warrants trial, "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248-49, 252 (1986).

Here, the relevant facts are gleaned from the Defendant‟s Statement of Material Facts ("SMF") filed by Defendant Bailey [16] in Case No. 1:09-cv-36-SJM, the Responsive Concise Statement of Material Facts ("RCSMF") filed by Plaintiff Henderson [22],*fn1 and portions of the summary judgment record. Where factual disputes exist, we view the evidence, and all reasonable inferences arising therefrom, in the light most favorable to the Plaintiffs, the non-moving parties. Faylor v. Szupper, No. 10-2181, 2011 WL 11018 at *3 (3d Cir. Jan. 4, 2011) (slip copy).

II. BACKGROUND FACTS

On or about June 9, 2008, Plaintiff Scofield received a call indicating that a man, later identified as Thomas Mysnyk, burglarized the home of her friend, Plaintiff Tanesha Henderson. Scofield proceeded to Henderson‟s residence located at 146 East 30th Street in Erie, Pennsylvania. Scofield called Henderson, who was not at home, to inform her that she had gone to Henderson‟s house and found that the door had been kicked in. Henderson then immediately drove to her home. Neither Henderson nor Scofield called the police to respond to the burglary; instead, Henderson grabbed a bat and both she and Scofield headed toward the residence of Thomas Mysnyk, which was located just down the street at 113 East 30th Street.

The details of what occurred next is subject to differing accounts. However, it is agreed that Henderson and Scofield arrived at Mysnyk‟s residence, where they stood in the driveway while Henderson, at least, began yelling and swearing about the break-in at her house. According to Plaintiffs, Henderson held the bat while Scofield stood by as a witness, unarmed, and saying nothing. Mysnyk, they claim, remained inside his apartment during this entire time. Plaintiffs further claim that, after a short while, they left the scene and returned to Henderson‟s home.

Mysnyk‟s next door neighbor, Francis Heasley, claims that, during this incident, he observed an unarmed black female (Henderson) standing in the driveway yelling and using profanities, while a white woman (Scofield) stood near Mysnyk‟s door, looking agitated, and holding a tire iron in one hand and possibly a second object in the other. This prompted Heasley to call 911. Heasley did not observe the females enter Mysnyk‟s apartment, nor did he observe Mysnyk to be outside during this altercation.

Meanwhile, the disturbance caught the attention of other neighbors or lookers-on, who also called 911. This resulted in a number of dispatches being sent out to Erie police officers in the area. Among the dispatches were a report that two black males had gone inside a house with baseball bats, a separate report that males and females had "busted into" a house with bats and tire irons, and yet another report that a "group of people" had "just busted in" with bats and tire irons. (See Def.‟s Ex. E [17-5] at p. 5.) Numerous Erie police officers responded to the dispatches, among them Defendant Bailey, who agreed to handle the call. Also responding to the scene in separate cruisers were Officer Donald Sornberger and Officer Melanie Szoszorek.

What exactly unfolded upon the police officers‟ arrival is, in many respects, unclear and subject again to varying accounts. Bailey claims that he was the first officer on-scene and, upon arriving, he observed Mysnyk yelling and screaming and staggering down the stairs of his residence. Bailey further claims he went straight to Mysnyk and guided him outside, during which time he observed that Mysnyk bleeding from his face and head area with swelling about his head. According to Bailey, Mysnyk kept saying that his drug dealer, "Joker," had beaten him up. Bailey also claims that he received information from Officer Sornberger, reportedly obtained from Heasley, that a black female and a heavier-set white female with tattoos had been observed arguing with Mysnyk about a break-in. According to this account, the white female had been observed holding a 4-way tire iron and possibly a bat; the two women had been seen arguing with Mysnyk and then, shortly thereafter, Mysnyk was observed to be lying on the ground, injured.

Heasley‟s testimony concerning what he reported to the police paints a somewhat different picture. Heasley claims that, upon the officers‟ arrival, he approached a white officer (presumably Sornberger) and informed the officer that he had seen a black female yelling and screaming near the bottom of the driveway and a white female standing with a tire iron in her hand, and possibly another object as well, next to the entrance of Mysnyk‟s apartment. Heasley claims that he never saw Mysnyk outside the house arguing while the two females were present and did not report such information. He maintains that he first saw Mysnyk outside of his residence after the police had responded to the call. More specifically, he claims that, after talking to two officers (presumably Sornberger and Bailey), they all heard a noise coming from Mysnyk‟s entranceway and went inside to discover Mysnyk lying in pain, beat up and groaning.

The record is also somewhat ambiguous as to how and when Sornberger communicated to Bailey the information obtained from Heasley. Sornberger testified that he included it in a police report completed later that night and also communicated it to Bailey verbally; however, while Bailey contends he learned this information on-scene, Sornberger‟s deposition testimony was less clear and suggested that the exchange could have occurred later on at the police station.

In any event, Sornberger, after talking to Heasley, put over the air a description of the individuals the police were seeking. At around this same timeframe, Erie police officers Shawn McGill and Jerry Stevens were responding to the 911 dispatch concerning the alleged fight in the 100 block of East 30th Street. There were multiple calls for the incident, among them a call about someone being beaten up with bats and the second indicating that a black male, white female, and black female had assaulted an individual at 113 East 30th Street. According to Officer Stevens, the description of the possible actors included "one black female, one black male, and one white female with multiple tattoos on the legs, possibly." (Def.‟s Ex. Q [17-17] at pp. 17.) According to Officer Stevens, the female was reported to be "heavier-set." (Id.)

Officers McGill and Stevens observed Plaintiffs Henderson, a black female, and Scofield, a heavier set white female with tattoos, at 146 East 30th Street, not far from the scene of the alleged assault. At the time Officers McGill and Stevens encountered the Plaintiffs, Henderson was in possession of a baseball bat. Both women were very upset about Henderson‟s house being burglarized. Henderson was referring to "that motherfucker" burglarizing her house, while Scofield was asking whether the police were going to do anything about the burglary. (SMF ¶30; RCSMF ¶ 30.) Officer McGill attempted to calm the women down and took the bat from Henderson.

What happened next is the subject of some dispute. According to Bailey, the women were "1015‟d," meaning taken into custody and transported to the Erie Police Department. According to the Plaintiffs, they were first taken to the scene of the alleged assault and presented to Mysnyk, who was asked if they could identify them, to which he responded, "No, I don‟t know who did this to me." (Plaintiff‟s Statement of Material Facts ("PSMF" [22] at ¶ 1.) Plaintiffs claim that, after Mysnyk failed to identify them, Defendant Bailey told his fellow officers to make the arrest. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.