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Campfield v. Dougherty

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 19, 2019



          Darnell Jones, II J.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Lamont Campfield, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, filed this pro se civil rights action against Philadelphia Detective Raymond Dougherty, Philadelphia Detective William Schol, Philadelphia Detective Michael Cahill, Philadelphia Detective Chester Koninski, Philadelphia Police Officer Demetrius Beasley, Philadelphia Police Officer Dave Hunter, the Philadelphia Police Department (“Police Defendants”), Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Hugh Colihan, Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Ann Ponterio, and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office (“DAO Defendants”) (collectively “Defendants”) in connection with his 1991 arrest and subsequent conviction for, among other things, the murder of Philadelphia store owner named Kam Shing Yeung. (Compl.[1] ¶¶ 1-16, DAO Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. A, 2.) In response to Plaintiff's Complaint, Defendants filed the instant Motions to Dismiss for failure to state a claim. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendants' Motions to Dismiss shall be granted and Plaintiff's Complaint shall be dismissed with prejudice.

         II. Background [2]

On May 15, 1991 at about 2:30 A.M., [Plaintiff] and two friends were engaged in consuming drugs. One or two trips were made out of the house to purchase more drugs. After these purchases, they ran short of money and they also ran out of cigarettes. [Plaintiff] volunteered to go out and get more cigarettes and left the house, carrying with him a hand-gun. [Plaintiff] went to a store at 2512 Ridge Avenue in the City and County of Philadelphia which was in the process of closing at that time. The store was owned by Kam Shing Yeung, a 40 year old man. Also at closing time was Kam Yeung Siu, the wife of the proprietor[, ] and their eight month old baby [who] she was carrying in a back-pack. As soon as [Plaintiff] entered the store, he struck the woman in the face twice with this gun and she[, ] along with the baby, fell to the floor. [Plaintiff] then turned and shot the owner in the course of committing a robbery of the store.

(DAO Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Ex. A, 2 (quoting Trial Court Opinion at 1-2)). Shortly thereafter, Police Defendants arrested Plaintiff. (Compl. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff was subsequently convicted of assault, reckless endangerment, murder, and robbery, and sentenced to life imprisonment. (Pl.'s Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Court Summary 4-5.) Plaintiff appealed his conviction, which the Superior Court affirmed. Commonwealth v. Campfield, 704 A.2d 1115 (Pa. Super. Ct., Sep. 29, 1997). Plaintiff sought post-conviction relief six times without success. Commonwealth v. Campfield, 200 A.3d 597 (Pa. Super. Ct., Apr. 24, 2018). He now seeks relief in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Plaintiff's Complaint refers to Pennsylvania's Declaratory Judgment Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 7531, and Pennsylvania's Abuse of Office Statute, 18 Pa.C.S. § 5301. (Compl. ¶¶ 23, 32, [3] 33.) However, his express and implied references to violation of his Constitutional rights at the hands of public officials indicates he seeks redress for alleged violations of such rights, which Defendants liberally and properly construe as prisoner civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Police Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 2; DAO Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 3-4.) Plaintiff's Complaint alleges, in conclusory fashion, he was the victim of baseless, unlawful arrest, malicious, perjury-ridden prosecution, conspiracy, and official oppression.

         Plaintiff alleges his prosecution was flawed in the following ways:

- he was erroneously considered to be carrying a firearm at the time of his arrest (Compl. ¶ 19);
- the murder victim was killed with a .38 caliber pistol but Plaintiff's gun was a .32 caliber pistol (Compl. ¶ 18);
- Police Defendants coerced a witness into saying Plaintiff committed the murder for which he was convicted (Compl. ¶¶ 21, 28, 39);
- Police Defendants coached an interpreter to say that Mr. Yeung's wife said Plaintiff shot her husband (Compl. ¶ 26); and,
- Police Defendants threatened to take Plaintiff's wife's children from her if she did not say that Plaintiff told her he killed Mr. Yeung (Compl. ¶ 25).

         Plaintiff alleges these errors amount to violations of his civil rights, and Defendants' conduct in committing said errors was knowing, reckless, wanton, outrageous, and malicious. (Compl. ¶¶ 30-31, 37.) Plaintiff maintains he is totally innocent (Compl. ¶¶ 29, 38), and claims he has suffered emotional distress and mental anguish as a result of Defendants' conduct (Compl. ¶ 37). Plaintiff specifically seeks equitable relief in the form of a declaratory ...

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