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MacHie v. Manger

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

July 2, 2013

EDMOND MACHIE, Plaintiff,
v.
J. THOMAS MANGER, et al. Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ALEXANDER WILLIAMS, Jr., District Judge.

Plaintiff Edmond Machie filed suit against Defendants Kye Pak and Charles Haak of the Montgomery County Police Department on July 22, 2009 based on an arrest that took place on January 11, 2008. Plaintiff alleges that Detective Pak violated his Fourth Amendment rights by falsely arresting him and that Officer Haak violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force in an arrest. Pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment on both claims, Doc. No. 95, and Plaintiff's Cross-Motion to Strike Defense Exhibits 3, 4, 6, and 8, Doc. No. 98. The Court has reviewed the motion papers and finds that no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2011). For the reasons articulated below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be GRANTED-IN-PART and DENIED-IN-PART, and Plaintiff's Cross-Motion to Strike will be DENIED.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 9, 2008, a bank robbery took place at a branch of BB&T on Georgia Avenue in Wheaton, Maryland. A suspect impersonating a security guard, working with a bank employee, walked out of the bank with a large sum of money. The next day, the bank reported a theft in excess of half a million dollars. Detective Kye Pak was sent to investigate. After interviewing employees, law enforcement set up surveillance of the Olney, Maryland home of Elizabeth Tarke, a bank supervisor.

Officer Charles Haak was part of the surveillance team. On January 11, 2008, at around 6:30 p.m., the surveillance team was observing Tarke's residence in Olney. Haak witnessed Tarke get into a heated argument with David Mbom. Mbom was subsequently picked up in a Ford Explorer by a man later revealed to be Robert Tataw. Two other officers followed Tataw and Mbom to an apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland, where they witnessed Tataw carry what appeared to be a heavy duffel bag into the building. Tarke, Tataw, and Mbom became the main suspects in the robbery.

Plaintiff Edmond Machie is a citizen of Cameroon living in the United States. He lives in Arlington, VA, but at the time of the incident he also had an apartment in Silver Spring. At the time of this incident, Machie owned and drove a Ford Focus, and was an intern for the Montgomery County Police Department. On January 11, 2008, Machie called his friend Ruphin, who invited him to a building in Silver Spring where a woman operated a bar and restaurant out of her apartment. Upon arrival in his Ford Focus, Machie saw a "fat person" who invited him into the building. The "fat man" was likely Robert Tataw, who signaled to Machie according to a police officer on the scene. The officer witnessed them enter the building together. This occurred approximately two hours after officers first saw Tataw enter the building with the duffel bag. Upon entering the apartment, Machie found Ruphin, along with several other people. While in the apartment, Machie witnessed Ruphin get into an argument over twenty dollars. Following the argument, Machie went home. A member of the surveillance team at the apartment witnessed the driver of a Ford Focus leave the building at the same time as the driver of the Ford Explorer that the team had followed from Tarke's residence. They left in opposite directions.

When Machie left the apartment, two law enforcement officers followed him. The officers approached Machie outside of his Silver Spring apartment, and asked for his identification and car registration. Machie showed the officers his ID and his police intern badge, along with his registration. The officers then informed Machie that they were going to search his car. Machie neither consented nor objected to the search, and the officers searched the vehicle and checked Machie's cell phone. When the officers saw Machie's police intern badge, they told Machie, "since you're police, we need your help, and it sounds like you've been some place where there was a Cameroonian, so we need your help." The officers asked Machie to come to the police station to answer questions. They informed Machie that he was not under arrest and was not under investigation. Machie agreed to help, and was driven to the Wheaton police station by the officers.

After he arrived at the station, Machie was taken into a conference room by Detective Pak. Pak did not tell Machie he was under arrest, and Machie was not handcuffed during his meeting with Pak. During the interview, two doors to the conference room were left open. Machie gave a statement to Pak, and then left the police station. The statement described Machie's evening, from his phone call with Ruphin to his encounter with police. In his deposition, Machie was asked "And at any time did Detective Pak tell you that you could not leave the room?" Machie responded "Detective Pak? No. Yes, I can leave the room." Machie spent "over an hour or two" in the conference room.

Officers were growing concerned that Machie was involved in the bank theft and would have access to the police department because of his status as a police intern. Officer Haak knew that Machie had been guided into the apartment by Tataw after Tataw carried the large duffel bag into the building. Later that evening, Machie returned to the police station to get a copy of his statement. When Machie returned, Officer Haak asked him for his police intern badge, which Machie surrendered to him. Then, under instructions from Sergeant Robert Grims, Haak arrested Machie. Grims recalls that he spoke with Detective Pak about Machie prior to the arrest. Detective Pak is listed as the arresting officer on the "On-View Criminal Arrests" report, even though he did not physically arrest Machie. The only time Detective Pak saw Machie during the arrest was when Machie and Haak walked by him in the station.

Machie claims that Haak very tightly handcuffed him and that Haak and another officer, Chief J. Thomas Manger, smashed his head into a wall during the arrest. Machie further alleges that Officer Haak turned, grabbed and pushed his arms. There is no medical evidence available detailing Machie's physical injuries, and Haak alleges that he used no force at all in arresting Machie. Machie did not request any medical attention while in the custody of law enforcement, nor did he seek medical assistance for physical injury after his release. Machie claims that he is receiving therapy for emotional issues that arose from his arrest.

Based on this incident, Machie filed suit against Pak, Haak, Manger, Commander Nancy Demme, and Montgomery County alleging false arrest, libel, slander, and "torture." Doc. No. 14. The Court granted an initial motion to dismiss all counts on May 25, 2010. Doc. No. 30. Machie then filed a motion for reconsideration as to his false arrest claim, which the Court granted on June 29, 2010. Doc. No. 34. Subsequently, Machie filed an amended complaint alleging a variety of constitutional and state law tort claims against Defendants. Doc. No. 36. On November 4, 2010, the Court dismissed the vast majority of these claims, leaving only "excessive-force claims against Defendants Haak and Manger, and claims against Defendant Pak that remain somewhat ambiguous relating to seizure and interrogation without a warrant or probable cause" under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983.[1] Doc. No. 42. Machie voluntarily dismissed Manger from the lawsuit on September 2, 2011. Doc. No. 56.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is only appropriate "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-25 (1986). The Court must "draw all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, including questions of credibility and of the weight to be accorded to particular evidence." Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, Inc., 501 U.S. 496, 520 (1991) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, "[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge...." Okoli v. City of Baltimore, 648 F.3d 216, 231 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).

To defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must come forward with affidavits or other similar evidence to show that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A disputed fact presents a genuine issue "if, after reviewing the record as a whole... a reasonable jury could return a verdict for [the non-moving party]." Evans v. Techs. Applications & Serv. Co., 80 F.3d 954, 959 (4th Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). Although the Court should believe the evidence of the nonmoving party and draw all justifiable inferences in his favor, a nonmoving party cannot create a genuine dispute of material fact "through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another." Beale v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir. 1985). Furthermore, a nonmoving party cannot defeat summary judgment with merely a scintilla of evidence. See American Arms Int'l v. Herbert, 563 F.3d 78, 82 (4th Cir. 2009).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Plaintiff's Cross-Motion to Strike Defendants' ...


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