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Hakim Ali Bryant v. City of Philadelphia

September 12, 2012

HAKIM ALI BRYANT,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, J.

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

Hakim Ali Bryant ("Plaintiff") brings this civil rights action against the City of Philadelphia, Police Officer Chim, Police Officer Cullen and Police Officer Ferrero (collectively "Defendants"). Plaintiff alleges that, on January 22, 2010, he was handcuffed and arrested for a drug charge for "which he was mistakenly pointed out." Plaintiff claims that during the arrest, Officer Ferrero assaulted him by punching and kicking him during the arrest. Plaintiff also alleges that fellow Police officers Chim and Cullen watched as this assault occurred. Plaintiff says that as a result he suffered face, neck, and back injuries. Plaintiff filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his First, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights, including false arrest, false imprisonment, excessive force, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and failure to intervene. Plaintiff proceeded pro se in this matter. At the trial he was permitted to testify by giving a narrative with the assistance of the Court. Both defendants were represented by the same counsel for the City Solicitor's Office.

Following a bench trial and pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a), this Memorandum constitutes the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. For the reasons that follow, the Court will enter judgment in favor of Defendants Ferrero and Cullen and against Plaintiff on all remaining claims.

II.PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On April 21, 2011, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. Defs. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 19. In their motion for summary judgment, Defendants provided exhibits indicating that Plaintiff was formally charged with intentional possession of a controlled substance subsequent to his arrest. Id. Ex. D. Plaintiff pled guilty to the charge and received nine months of probation. Bryant Dep. 79:18-20, Mot. for Summ. J. Ex.

C.

The Court granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims against Defendant City of Philadelphia and Defendant Chim as well as on all claims pursuant to the First, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. See Mem. Op. 3, Jan. 27, 2012, ECF No. 24. The Court also granted Defendants Cullen and Ferrero's summary judgment motion on Plaintiff's claim for false arrest, but denied summary judgment on Plaintiff's failure to intervene claim against Defendant Cullen. Id. Therefore, the case proceeded to trial only as against Defendants Ferrero and Cullen on Plaintiff's claims of excessive force, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and failure to intervene claims. See id.; Order, Jan. 27, 2012, ECF No. 24.

On March 21, 2012, this Court held a final pretrial conference in the case and gave Plaintiff thirty days to consult with at least three attorneys to assess whether they would be willing to represent him in this case. After a discussion with Plaintiff about his inability to retain counsel on April 26, 2012, the Court scheduled a non-jury trial upon Plaintiff's request. ECF Nos. 29, 30.

On June 20, 2012, the Court held a bench trial at the conclusion of which it heard closing argument. The Court has reviewed all of the admitted evidence in this case: Plaintiff's testimony, Officer Ferrero's testimony, Officer Cullen's testimony, and each party's supporting exhibits. Upon this record, the Court makes its findings of facts and conclusions of law.

III.JURISDICTION

The Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's constitutional and federal law claims. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1343 (2006).

IV.FINDINGS OF FACT*fn1

On January 22, 2010, Plaintiff was in the vicinity of the Gallery Mall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 10th and Market Streets. Trial Tr. 10:18-24, June 20, 2012, ECF No. 33. Defendant Police Officers Joseph Ferrero ("Defendant Ferrero") and Kevin Cullen ("Defendant Cullen") were out of uniform, on patrol in an area including 10th and Market Streets in a plainclothes capacity for narcotics enforcement. Id. at 71:4-11, 137:3-24. Defendant Ferrero first saw Plaintiff on the corner of 10th and Market Streets walking northbound as Defendant Ferrero was walking behind him. Id. at 73:2-6. Defendant Ferrero observed Plaintiff stop midway through the block where there were two males, a Hispanic male,*fn2 ...


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