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Hodges v. Mayor & City Council of Annapolis

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 3, 2016

DANIEL HODGES, Plaintiff,
v.
MAYOR & CITY COUNCIL OF ANNAPOLIS, et al., Defendants.

          Daniel Hodges, Plaintiff, represented by Elizabeth Mcdowell Burlington, Burlington & Young & Nevin L. Young, Burlington & Young, LLP.

          Mayor and City Council of Annapolis, Maryland, Defendant, represented by Gary M. Elson, City of Annapolis Office of Law.

          Chief Michael J. Pristoop, Defendant, represented by Gary M. Elson, City of Annapolis Office of Law.

          Officer Andrew Ascione, Defendant, represented by Gary M. Elson, City of Annapolis Office of Law.

          Officer Gregory Fabela, Defendant, represented by Gary M. Elson, City of Annapolis Office of Law.

          Officer Alfred Thomas, Defendant, represented by Gary M. Elson, City of Annapolis Office of Law.

          Unknown Officers of the Annapolis Police Department, Defendant, represented by Gary M. Elson, City of Annapolis Office of Law.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER, Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Daniel Hodges sued the Mayor and City Council of Annapolis, Maryland, Annapolis Police Department Chief Michael Pristoop, various known and unknown officers of the Annapolis Police Department ("APD"), unknown officers of the Anne Arundel County Police Department ("AACPD"), the Anne Arundel County Council, and Anne Arundel County Police Department Chief Timothy Altomare. Mr. Hodges asserts that the defendants violated his rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments of the United States Constitution, as enforced under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and Articles 22, 24, and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights; and also violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601, et seq. [1] [ECF No. 28]. The Anne Arundel County Council and Chief Altomare have jointly moved to dismiss Mr. Hodges's Amended Complaint against them. I have reviewed the record, and find that no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated herein, the motion to dismiss is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         According to the Amended Complaint, Mr. Hodges, a white, thirty-five year old man, resides in an apartment complex located in a neighborhood of Annapolis, Maryland where the vast majority of residents are African-American or Latino. Am. Compl. at ¶¶ 3, 4. On April 6, 2015, Mr. Hodges was driving in Annapolis when he was stopped by Officer Andrew Ascione of the APD. Id. at ¶ 10. After questioning Mr. Hodges about drug activity, Officer Ascione asked Mr. Hodges to step out of his vehicle. Id. at ¶¶ 11-12. Officer Ascione frisked Mr. Hodges for weapons, and "squeeze[ed] his pockets for contraband." Id. at ¶ 12. Mr. Hodges then consented to a search of his vehicle. Id. at ¶ 13. After an APD supervisor arrived on the scene and spoke with Officer Ascione, the supervisor questioned Mr. Hodges about his having been "near the Harbour House community, " a public housing area in Annapolis. Id. at ¶ 14. Mr. Hodges alleges, however, that he was not near the Harbour House, and that it was thus clear to him that "there was confusion among the officers about the reason for the detention and search, " and that "the supervisor considered a motorist having been near the Harbour House to be [the] grounds for" the officer's suspicion and the traffic stop. Id. Officer Ascione cited Mr. Hodges for driving with a suspended registration. Id. at ¶ 15.

         At or around midnight on April 20, 2015, Officer Alfred Thomas of the APD pulled Mr. Hodges over while Mr. Hodges was driving in Annapolis, and alleged that he had failed to stop for a stop sign. Id. at ¶¶ 16-18. Mr. Hodges believes, however, that he "did stop for the stop sign." Id. at ¶ 17. Mr. Hodges claims that Officer Thomas stopped him only "to explore why [he] was in th[at] neighborhood at that hour" because the neighborhood in which he was stopped is "mostly populated by racial minorities, " and because April 20 is "well known among cannabis users as a day to use that drug." Officer Thomas issued a citation to Mr. Hodges for failure to stop at a stop sign. Id. at ¶¶ 18, 20.

         On August 27, 2015, shortly after leaving his apartment complex, Officer Gregory Fabela of the APD pulled Mr. Hodges over in front of 1703 Bay Ridge Avenue in Annapolis for failing to stop at a stop sign. Id. at ¶¶ 21-22. Mr. Hodges alleges that Officer Fabela started following him as he left the apartment complex. Id. at ¶ 23. Officer Fabela questioned Mr. Hodges about drug activity and informed him of the need to search his vehicle. Id. On this occasion, Mr. Hodges refused the search, which prompted additional APD officers to arrive on the scene. Id. at ¶ 24. At approximately the same time as the additional APD officers arrived, Nevin L. Young, Esq., Mr. Hodges's counsel, who resides at 1703 Bay Ridge Avenue, arrived as well, and began video recording the encounter on his cellphone. Id. at ¶¶ 25, 26.

         The APD officers then called the AACPD to request a K-9 search unit. Id. at ¶ 27. Before the K-9 unit arrived, Mr. Hodges alleges that the APD officers forced him to exit his vehicle, frisked him for weapons, and forced him to sit on the curb at a distance from his vehicle. Id. at ¶ 29. An AACPD K-9 Unit arrived, and a dog performed a search of the vehicle. Id. at ¶¶ 30-31. Mr. Hodges alleges that during the search, "without the dog appearing to the make any affirmative cues, " the K-9 handler led the dog to the driver's door and guided the dog inside the vehicle. Id. at ¶ 31. Based on the dog's behavior inside the vehicle, the K-9 handler advised the APD officers that they ...


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