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Kenney v. City of Pittsburgh

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

December 19, 2014



ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Nicole Kenney ("Plaintiff") has filed an Amended Complaint against the City of Pittsburgh (the "City"), the Pittsburgh Police Bureau (the "Police Bureau"), Officer William Derrickson, Officer R. Walter, Officer Erika Jones, Officer Jeffrey Abraham ("Defendant Officers"), and Brandi Boyd. Plaintiff alleges seven counts in total, charging the aforementioned Defendants with claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of the Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments for false arrest, malicious prosecution, civil conspiracy, and associated pendent state law claims. Count I alleges that Defendant Officers, in their official and individual capacities, intentionally harassed and falsely arrested Plaintiff in violation of her constitutional rights under the Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments, entitling Plaintiff to compensatory damages; Count II alleges that Defendant Officers, in their individual capacities, intentionally harassed, falsely charged, and falsely arrested Plaintiff, with willful and wanton disregard of Plaintiff's constitutional rights, entitling Plaintiff to punitive damages; Count III alleges that it was the policy and practice of the City and Police Bureau to authorize officers to misuse the power of arrest to harass and retaliate against citizens, entitling Plaintiff to compensatory damages; Count IV alleges that all Defendants conspired to violate Plaintiff's civil rights, entitling her to compensatory damages; Counts V alleges that Defendant Officers and Boyd intentionally inflected emotional distress, entitling her to compensatory damages; Count IV alleges that Defendant Officers and Boyd maliciously prosecuted Plaintiff, entitling her to compensatory and punitive damages; and Count VII alleges that Defendant Boyd assaulted Plaintiff, entitling Plaintiff to compensatory and punitive damages. Doc. No. 17. Jurisdiction is based upon 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343(a)(3) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Presently before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6) filed on behalf of the City of Pittsburgh, the Police Bureau, Officer Erika Jones and Officer Jeffrey Abraham. Doc. No. 18. Said Defendants move this Court to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint in its entirety. Id . Plaintiff wholly opposes this Motion. Doc. No. 29. Defendants Boyd, Walter, and Derrickson have not filed an answer or otherwise pled. See Text Entry for Doc. No. 17 "answer due by 12/8/14."

For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 18) will be DENIED.

II. Factual Background

Under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, at this stage, the Court accepts all of the factual allegations in the Amended Complaint as true and all reasonable inferences are drawn in Plaintiff's favor. See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside , 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). Taking the Plaintiff's factual allegations as true, solely for the purposes of this Memorandum Opinion, the facts of this case are as follows:

Plaintiff is an African-American female. Doc. No. 17, ¶ 6.

On July 4, 2014, at approximately 2:30 or 3:00 A.M., Officer Derrickson and Officer Walter arrived at Plaintiff's residence and began banging on the door. Id. at ¶ 15. Officer Abraham may also have been present. Id . Plaintiff answered the door as the Officers forced their way inside, informing Plaintiff that she was under arrest for assaulting and recklessly endangering Brandi Boyd ("Boyd"). Id . These Officers are constable officers who are retained by the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Police Bureau. Id. at ¶ 9. The Officers identified themselves as Pittsburgh Police Officers, but neither possessed forms of identification representing their association with the Pittsburgh Police, nor were they dressed in the Pittsburgh Police uniform. Id. at ¶ 15.

After informing Plaintiff that she was under arrest, one of the Officers stood in the living room and inappropriately looked at Plaintiff's 13 year-old daughter. Id. at ¶ 16. Additionally, one of the Officers followed Plaintiff upstairs to watch as she fully undressed and then dressed herself so that she could be placed in custody. Id . Plaintiff and her father asked to see a warrant. Id. at ¶ 17. The Officers did not produce an arrest or search warrant upon entering Plaintiff's residence, and did not read Plaintiff her Miranda rights upon arresting her. Id . The Officer who handcuffed Plaintiff stated to her that, "I know you didn't do that stuff to Boyd, but we had to come." Id . Plaintiff was taken by the officers to Allegheny County Jail. Id . Officer Abraham was listed as the arresting officer. Id. at ¶ 18. Plaintiff was charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Id.

Plaintiff later learned that these charges stemmed from an incident, which occurred on June 17, 2012. Id. at ¶ 19. On that date, at approximately 2:00 A.M., Plaintiff was pepper sprayed by Boyd upon getting out of her car near the Red Onion bar on Webster Avenue in Pittsburgh. Id . Plaintiff did not assault or endanger Boyd during this encounter. Id.

Later that day or the next day, Plaintiff attempted to file a police report about the incident at both the Zone 1 and Zone 2 stations of the Pittsburgh Police Department. Id. at ¶ 20. Pittsburgh Police refused to allow her to do so as she did not know the name of her assailant. Id . However, Officer Jeffrey Abraham of the Pittsburgh Police, took a false police report from Boyd, which resulted in charges being filed against Plaintiff, as previously noted. Id . After Boyd failed to appear at the hearing, the charges against Plaintiff were dismissed and the proceedings were terminated in her favor. Id. at ¶ 21.

On or about August 25, 2012, Plaintiff had another altercation with Boyd. Id. at ¶ 22. Boyd had been stalking Plaintiff for several days near 222 West Burgess Street. Id . When Plaintiff was outside 222 West Burgess Street, Boyd arrived along with a woman named Lakrisha Falconer, at which point Boyd again sprayed Plaintiff with pepper spray. Id . Falconer subsequently punched Plaintiff and an altercation ensued between the individuals. Id . Plaintiff was treated at UPMC Mercy as a result of injuries incurred during the altercation. Id. at ¶ 23.

On August 26, 2012, Plaintiff attempted to file a police report with the Pittsburgh Police in order to initiate criminal charges against Boyd. Id. at ¶ 24. However, Officer McManus of the Pittsburgh Police informed Plaintiff that she was unable to do so because Boyd had already filed charges against Plaintiff. Id . Officer McManus also told Plaintiff that being maced or sprayed with pepper spray was not grounds for a criminal assault charge. Id.

Additionally, on August 31, 2012, Officer Erika Jones verbally harassed Plaintiff. Id . Officer Jones spotted Plaintiff in the City Courthouse and accused Plaintiff of harassing Boyd. Id.

On or about September 22, 2012, Officer Derrickson and Officer Walter again arrived at Plaintiff's residence. Id. at ¶ 25. At approximately 1:30 A.M., the Officers knocked on Plaintiff's door while yelling, "Boom boom bitch, you know what you did." Id . Plaintiff refused to open the door and instead called her parents. Id . Upon Plaintiff's parents arriving, the Officers left the Plaintiff's residence. Id.

Through counsel, Plaintiff learned that there was a warrant issued for her on a terroristic threats charge. Id. at ¶ 26. Plaintiff never harassed or threatened Boyd. Id. at ¶ 27. Plaintiff turned herself in on this charge on Monday, September 24, 2012. Id . The arresting officer was listed as Officer Erika Jones of the Pittsburgh Police Department. Id . Plaintiff's criminal charges in this instance were based upon a false criminal charge filed by Boyd, with the assistance of the Pittsburgh Police Bureau and Officer Jones. Id.

Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board on January 22, 2013. Id. at ¶ 29. The complaint described the incidents of July 4, 2012 and September 21, 2012, as well as other incidents of harassment by the Pittsburgh Police. Plaintiff also complained about the Police's failure to investigate false charges Boyd had filed against Plaintiff. Id . The complaint identified ...

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