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Johnson v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 8, 2015

COREY R. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA et al., Defendants.


EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, District Judge.

This case arises from Plaintiff Corey Johnson's pro se suit against Defendants City of Philadelphia ("the City"), Police Officer Efun Allen, and Police Officer James Little, for constitutional violations suffered in connection with Plaintiff's allegedly false arrest on March 21, 2013, related to an incident that occurred on January 25, 2013. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. For the following reasons, the Court will grant the motion.


The incident at the heart of this case occurred in the context of a longer-term domestic dispute to which Plaintiff was a party. This context is important because Plaintiff's theory of the case relies on the timing of earlier and later events connected to that dispute. The Court therefore provides a brief chronological sketch of these events.

During 2012, Plaintiff began a relationship with Sarah McFadden and, in December of that year, the two moved into a rental house at 6137 Mascher Street. Defs.' Br. Ex. D, Corey Johnson Deposition 23:12-16, Dec. 16, 2014 [hereinafter "Johnson Dep."]. On January 17, 2013, the couple's relationship took a turn for the worse and Plaintiff moved out. Id. at 22:16-17, 23:23-24.[2] That same day, McFadden obtained a protection from abuse ("PFA") order evicting Plaintiff from the house. Id. at 21:7-18. Later that month-on either January 23 or 24-McFadden reported that Plaintiff called her and harassed her in violation of the PFA order, a report that led to an arrest warrant. Id. at 17:2-7, 37:18-38:1.

On January 25, 2013, at about 1:30 p.m., Plaintiff was driving McFadden in his car as they ran errands when an argument erupted between them. Am. Compl. 5, ECF No. 7.[3] At an intersection, McFadden suddenly removed the keys from the car's ignition and fled, leaving Plaintiff stranded at the scene. Id. Police Officers Little and Tyrone Simmons[4] arrived shortly afterward, ran a background check and discovered that McFadden had a PFA order against Plaintiff, and demanded that Plaintiff move his vehicle. Id. Plaintiff called a friend from 1:56 p.m. to 2:13 p.m. in order to obtain a second set of keys. Id. During this time, the Officers departed to retrieve the keys from McFadden at 6137 Mascher Street. Id.; Johnson Dep. 34:12-15. Soon thereafter, Plaintiff's friend arrived with the keys and Plaintiff returned home. Am. Compl. 5.

At some point during this incident, McFadden called the police from 6137 Mascher Street. Id. Ex. C, McFadden Interview Report 20. Police Officers Allen and Michael Shear responded to this call and interviewed McFadden, who reported that, at approximately 2:00 p.m. that day, Plaintiff had kidnapped her at knife point and forced her into his vehicle. Pl.'s Resp. 1; Hr'g Tr. 33:22-34:9, Feb. 20, 2015 (reading McFadden's Domestic Violence Report, which is illegible as produced); Am. Compl. 5-6. McFadden further reported that while the vehicle was stopped at an intersection, "[s]he jumped out of defendant's vehicle, ran home and called police." Hr'g Tr. 34:5-7 (reading McFadden's Domestic Violence Report). As Officers Allen and Shear were interviewing McFadden, Officers Little and Simmons arrived at 6137 Mascher Street, although their actions there are unaccounted for. Pl.'s Resp. 1. Almost a month later, on February 21, Detective James Anderson interviewed McFadden concerning the events of January 25, during which she indicated that she wanted to press charges against Plaintiff. Am. Compl. Ex. C, McFadden Interview Report 21.

On February 24, 2013, a police officer pulled Plaintiff over for running a red light and, noticing that Plaintiff's PFA violation arrest warrant was outstanding, arrested him. Johnson Dep. 13:21-17:7. Plaintiff spent approximately thirty hours in custody and the charges were subsequently withdrawn "after phone records were presented to the District Attorney's office confirming that I did not call Ms. McFadden[;] [s]he actually called me." Id. at 17:24-18:3, 40:8-13.

On March 15, 2013, the day after the PFA violation charges were allegedly dismissed, Hr'g Tr. 25:12-15, Detective Andersen filed the Affidavit of Probable Cause in connection with the January 25 kidnapping incident, thus generating a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest. Am. Compl. Ex. C, Aff. Probable Cause 19.

On March 21, 2013, Plaintiff went to the police station in order "to interview with a detective about a police report [he] had filed about [McFadden] committing identi[t]y theft and using [his] utilities unauthorized." Johnson Dep. 28:17-20. Upon arriving at the station, the police ran a background check, discovered that Plaintiff's kidnapping arrest warrant was outstanding, and arrested him. Id. at 28:20-29:1. Plaintiff spent approximately one day in custody and the charges were subsequently withdrawn "after evidence was-well, after deposition hearings of the DA with the complaining witness and several conversations between my defense attorney and the DA concerning issues with the discovery." Id. at 40:13-19, 44:17-22.

Plaintiff alleges numerous discrepancies and timing issues in the events recounted above, as well as in the official reports referring to these events. He claims that these inconsistencies demonstrate that he could not have committed the kidnapping crime on January 25, 2013, for which he was arrested and therefore no probable cause supported this arrest. Am. Compl. 6.

In addition, Plaintiff subpoenaed the police department for the mobile data terminal information in order to show the time, whereabouts, and dispatch data of Officers Little and Simmons on January 25, 2013. Id. However, Plaintiff asserts that this information was not provided to him. Id.

In sum, Plaintiff claims the following: (1) he was arrested without probable cause, in violation of the Fourth Amendment; (2) the denial of his information request constitutes a Brady[5] violation; (3) Defendants violated his Fifth and Thirteenth Amendment rights;[6] and (4) the City failed to properly ...

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