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Byrd v. Mangold

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 28, 2019

RONALD BYRD
v.
SPECIAL AGENT PATRICK MANGOLD, et al.

          MEMORANDUM

          Juan R. Sánchez, C.J.

         Plaintiff Ronald Byrd brings this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Defendants Special Agent Patrick Mangold, City of Philadelphia Police Officer Gregory Gillespie, former Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the City of Philadelphia, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Byrd alleges violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights arising out of his arrest and prosecution on charges that were ultimately withdrawn. Byrd asserts constitutional claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. He also asserts a host of related state law claims. All Defendants move to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Commonwealth and former Attorney General Kane also move to dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). Because Byrd's constitutional claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations, the Court will grant Defendants' motions to dismiss as to those claims, which will be dismissed with prejudice. Byrd's state law claims will be dismissed without prejudice pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Finally, because the Commonwealth and former Attorney General Kane are entitled to sovereign immunity, the Court will grant their motions and dismiss all claims against them with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         On July 25, 2015, Defendant Special Agent Patrick Mangold applied for a search warrant to search for firearms at a residence located at 2234 W. Ontario Street, Philadelphia (the Residence). Compl. ¶ 14. In his sworn Affidavit of Probable Cause in support of the search warrant (the Search Warrant Affidavit), Agent Mangold described an exchange of firearms that occurred at the Residence on July 24, 2015. Id. He alleged that a credible and reliable source identified Nyeem Gordon as an individual who exchanged firearms with Melanie Barbour, the alleged girlfriend of Nyeem Gordon's brother, Hakeem Gordon, at the Residence, where Barbour lived. The Search Warrant Affidavit stated Barbour, on behalf of Hakeem Gordon, provided Nyeem Gordon with a .38 caliber revolver in exchange for a .40 caliber Glock handgun, on July 24, 2015.

         Later that same day, Agent Mangold, accompanied by Philadelphia SWAT Unit Police Officers, executed the search warrant at the Residence. Police recovered a .40 caliber Glock handgun and other firearms from the Residence. After executing the search warrant, Agent Mangold presented Barbour with an Instagram photograph of Byrd. Compl. ¶ 18. Barbour initially told Agent Mangold that Byrd was not the person who gave her the .40 caliber Glock handgun. Id. ¶ 20. She later identified Byrd and signed a statement falsely implicating him in the gun exchange after Agent Mangold threatened her with immediate arrest if she did not do so. Id. ¶¶ 19, 21-22.

         On September 16, 2015, Agent Mangold sought a warrant for Byrd's arrest. In the Affidavit of Probable Cause in support of the arrest warrant (the Arrest Warrant Affidavit), Agent Mangold falsely alleged that on July 25, 2015, the same reliable and credible source who provided the information in the Search Warrant Affidavit identified Byrd as the individual who transferred the .40 caliber Glock handgun to Barbour, identified Albert Shields as Barbour's boyfriend, and alleged Shields and Byrd conspired to illegally transfer firearms. Agent Mangold, through the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, filed felony firearm charges against Byrd and Shields. Barbour was neither arrested nor prosecuted.

         On September 17, 2015, Byrd was arrested and charged with three violations of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act and criminal conspiracy. Id. ¶ 26. Byrd's preliminary arraignment was held on September 18, 2015. See Def. Williams's Ex. A (municipal court docket), ECF No. 7-1. At the arraignment, Agent Mangold requested a high bail of $750, 000, which Byrd was unable to pay. As a result, Byrd remained incarcerated while the criminal charges were pending.

         At Byrd's preliminary hearing, Agent Mangold and Defendant Officer Gregory Gillespie conspired to present false testimony against Byrd. Officer Gillespie testified that on July 24, 2015, at approximately 1:00 p.m., he personally observed Byrd exit the front passenger seat of an Audi A8 and enter the Residence. Compl. ¶ 31. He further falsely represented that he observed Byrd exit the Residence and re-enter the front passenger side of the Audi A8, which then drove away. Id. Byrd alleges Agent Mangold also presented false testimony to the court by asserting Byrd was involved in illegally transferring firearms on July 24, 2015. Id. ¶ 32.

         Byrd was subsequently held for trial on all charges, and his case was transferred to the Court of Common Pleas. On November 5, 2015, the Commonwealth, through the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, provided Byrd with “partial criminal discovery” pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 573; however, the Search Warrant Affidavit was “conspicuously omitted from the discovery package provided to Byrd.” Id. ¶ 35. Byrd repeatedly requested the Search Warrant Affidavit, but it was never produced to him. Id. ¶ 36. On March 14, 2016, the Commonwealth and Philadelphia District Attorney's Office withdrew all charges against Byrd.

         Almost a year later, on February 6, 2017, Byrd received a copy of the Search Warrant Affidavit from Shields, his co-defendant in the criminal case, and learned for the first time the facts described therein. Id. ¶ 37. Byrd alleges Defendants maliciously and willfully obstructed him from securing the Search Warrant Affidavit.

         Byrd filed this action on February 4, 2019, asserting constitutional claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution in violation of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He also alleges state tort claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, assault and battery, civil conspiracy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. According to the Complaint, Byrd sues Agent Mangold and Officer Gillespie in their official and individual capacities. He also asserts claims against former Attorney General Kathleen Kane, former Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, the City of Philadelphia, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[2] All Defendants have moved separately to dismiss the Complaint. The Court heard oral argument on the motions on October 7, 2019.

         DISCUSSION

         To withstand dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible when the facts pleaded “allow[] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         The statute of limitations is an affirmative defense that ordinarily should be raised in a defendant's answer. See Robinson v. Johnson, 313 F.3d 128, 134-35 (3d Cir. 2002). The statute of limitations may be raised in a motion to dismiss only when “the time alleged in the statement of a claim shows that the cause of action has not been brought within the statute of limitations.” Schmidt v. Skolas, 770 F.3d 241, 249 (3d Cir. 2014). Unless the time bar is apparent on the face of the complaint, it may not afford the basis for dismissal of the complaint under Rule 12(b)(6). See Id. While a court may entertain a motion to dismiss on statute of limitations grounds, it may not allocate the burden of invoking ...


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