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Brandon Murray v. City of Pittsburgh

July 28, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David Stewart Cercone United States District Judge

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Plaintiff, Brandon Murray ("Murray" or "Plaintiff"), filed a four (4) count complaint against Defendants, City of Pittsburgh (the "City"), and Pittsburgh Police Officers William Fisher ("Fisher"), Joseph Meyers ("Meyers"), Brian Weismantle ("Weismantle"), D. Canofari ("Canofari"), H. Bolin ("Bolin"), G. Satler ("Satler"), P. Moffatt ("Moffatt") and Leslie McDaniel ("McDaniel")(collectively the "Defendants") alleging: (1) violation of his civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) false arrest; (3) false imprisonment; and (4) malicious prosecution. The Defendants have filed a joint motion for summary judgment, a brief in support, and a concise statement of material facts. Murray has failed to respond.

The Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania require that Murray file a memorandum of law in opposition to the motion for summary judgment that addresses applicable law and explains why there are genuine issues of material fact to be tried and/or why the moving party is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See LR 56.1(C)(2). Further, Murray failed to file a responsive concise statement of material facts as required under LR 56.1(C)(1). Material facts set forth in a moving party‟s concise statement of material facts will be deemed admitted for the purpose of deciding the motion for summary judgment "unless specifically denied or otherwise controverted by a separate concise statement of the opposing party." See LR 56.1(E).


On February 21, 2006, Aaron Henderson was shot while walking to Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, and City of Pittsburgh detectives were assigned to investigate the shooting. Defendants‟ Concise Statement of Material Facts (hereinafter "Def. CSMF") ¶¶ 1 & 2. A review of Westinghouse High School‟s video surveillance system showed a silver/gray vehicle which appeared to have been occupied by the shooter. Def. CSMF ¶ 3. Investigating detectives Weismantle and Canofari spoke to Vanessa Rawlings ("Rawlings") who indicated that she heard the shots, witnessed the silver/gray vehicle leaving the scene, and saw the occupants of the vehicle. Def. CSMF ¶¶ 6 & 8*fn1

Canofari prepared a photo array consisting of six (6) color arrest photographs of young black males and the array was taken to Rawlings‟ home for her observation. From the photo array, Rawlings identified Thomas Beck as the driver of the vehicle, and she identified Brandon Murray as the front seat passenger. Def. CSMF ¶¶ 9, 10 & 11. Based upon the identifications, Bolin prepared a probable cause/criminal complaint affidavit. Def. CSMF ¶ 12. The affidavit was reviewed by the District Attorney‟s Office and submitted to the magisterial district court judge (the "Magistrate Judge") on February 24, 2006. Def. CSMF ¶¶ 14 & 16. The Magistrate Judge signed the probable cause/criminal complaint affidavit, and an arrest warrant was issued for Murray. Def. CSMF ¶ 16. After issuance of the arrest warrant, Murray turned himself in. Def. CSMF ¶ 17. Murray was charged with Criminal Attempt-Homicide, Aggravated Assault and Criminal Conspiracy. Complaint ¶ 12.

On March 6, 2006, a preliminary hearing was held in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania before the Honorable Randal B. Todd. Def. CSMF ¶ 18. Rawlings testified at the hearing and identified Murray as the passenger in the front seat of the vehicle leaving the scene of the shooting. Def. CSMF ¶ 24. Further, Rawlings testified that she made actual eye contact with Murray, and saw that he had a type of rifle in his hands. Def. CSMF ¶ 23. At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Todd determined that the Commonwealth had established a prima facie case against Murray, and all the charges were held over. Def. CSMF ¶ 28.

A non-jury trial was conducted before the Honorable John Zottola in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on March 6, 2007, and Murray was acquitted of the criminal charges filed against him. Def. CSMF ¶ 30.


Pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P 56(c), summary judgment shall be granted when there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. To support denial of summary judgment, an issue of fact in dispute must be both genuine and material, i.e., one upon which a reasonable fact finder could base a verdict for the non-moving party and one which is essential to establishing the claim. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the court is not permitted to weigh the evidence or to make credibility determinations, but is limited to deciding whether there are any disputed issues and, if there are, whether they are both genuine and material. Id. The court‟s consideration of the facts must be in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment and all reasonable inferences from the facts must be drawn in favor of that party as well. Whiteland Woods, L.P. v. Township of West Whiteland, 193 F.3d 177, 180 (3d Cir. 1999), Tigg Corp. v. Dow Corning Corp., 822 F.2d 358, 361 (3d Cir. 1987).

When the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In the language of the Rule, the nonmoving party must come forward with "specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." FED. R. CIV. P 56(e). Further, the nonmoving party cannot rely on unsupported assertions, conclusory allegations, or mere suspicions in attempting to survive a summary judgment motion. Williams v. Borough of W. Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir.1989) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986)). The non-moving party must respond Aby pointing to sufficient cognizable evidence to create material issues of fact concerning every element as to which ...

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