United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
This action arises out of a December 31, 2009 confrontation between the plaintiffs Khalil Croxton and Kassim Green and two Philadelphia Police Officers, Dennis Stephens and Christopher Manigault, and the plaintiffs’ subsequent arrest and prosecution. The plaintiffs have brought claims against Manigault, Stephens, and the City of Philadelphia for assault and battery, false arrest and false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution, and against the City of Philadelphia for negligence. The defendants have moved for summary judgment on all claims. Oral argument was held on May 18, 2015. The Court will grant the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
I. Summary Judgment Record
At approximately 3 a.m. on December 31, 2009, officers Manigault and Stephens encountered Croxton and Green at the intersection of 28th Street and Flectcher Street in Philadelphia. Officers Manigault and Stephens were on burglary detail conducting surveillance of a Foot Locker near the intersection. Manigault and Stephens were in plain clothes in an unmarked car. Defs. Mot. for S.J. Ex. V.
Manigault and Stephens assert that, while they were surveilling the Foot Locker, they encountered three males – Croxton, Green, and an unidentified third male – one of whom had a gun. When Stephens exited the car, one of the two males shot at the car; a police report of the incident notes that there was a bullet found in the front left door of the car. In his report to internal affairs, Manigault stated that Green fired shots at both Manigault and Stephens with a gun that appeared to be a revolver. Defs. Mot. for S.J. Exs A-B, V; Pls. Opp. Ex. D.
Both Manigault and Stephens then fired on Croxton, Green, and the third male as the three men tried to enter Croxton’s silver car. A bullet fragment lodged in the rear passenger headrest of Croxton’s car. Nobody was injured during the exchange of gunfire. Defs. Mot. for S.J. Exs A-B, V; Pls. Opp. Ex. J.
Croxton and Green were arrested on December 31, 2009 on charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, and violations of the Uniform Firearms Act. Following the arrest, Green was tested for gunshot residue; no gun or gunshot residue was found on his person or clothing. Defs. Mot. for S.J. Ex. V; Pls. Opp. Ex. E.
Croxton and Green challenge the defendants’ account exclusively with the allegations in their amended complaint and rely on no facts in the summary judgment record to provide their own account of the events of December 31, 2009. The plaintiffs claim that Manigault and Stephens falsely reported the events that led to Croxton and Green’s arrests. The plaintiffs further claim that they did not fire shots at Manigault and Stephens.
A December 31, 2009 article published on a local news website did not directly mirror the officers’ reports to internal affairs. The article reported that two men had been arrested “for allegedly shooting at Philadelphia police officers.” The article further reported that officers said they saw a vehicle circle the Foot Locker before a man with a gun exited the vehicle and fired on the officers. Pls. Opp. Ex. G.
Manigault and Stephens’ gave conflicting accounts of the December 31, 2009 encounter at the plaintiffs’ September 9, 2011 preliminary hearing. Manigault testified that during their surveillance he saw a car circle the block and then saw Green walk to the corner of 28th and Fletcher while on the phone. Stephens, however, testified that he saw Croxton in the driver’s seat of a car that Green and another individual exited from the rear. Stephens further testified that he first noticed Green when Green started firing shots at the officers. Pls. Opp. Ex. V.
The case against Croxton and Green was dismissed for lack of prosecution on March 25, 2010.
On May 25, 2011, Croxton and Green were re-arrested on the same charges. Neither Manigault nor Stephens was an affiant on the arrest warrant and neither Manigault nor Stephens arrested Croxton or Green on the charges.
On May 28, 2013, a jury found Croxton and Green not guilty of all charges. Def.’s Mot. for S.J. Exs. CC, DD.
The plaintiffs filed this action in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on May 31, 2013. The case was removed to ...