Argued: January 25, 2017
from the United States District Court for the District of
Maryland, at Baltimore. William D. Quarles, Jr., District
Charles Henry Edwards, IV, LAW OFFICE OF BARRY GLAZER, LLP,
Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant.
Suzanne Sangree, BALTIMORE CITY DEPARTMENT OF LAW, Baltimore,
Maryland, for Appellees.
Nilson, City Solicitor, Kara Lynch, Assistant Solicitor,
Colin Glynn, Assistant Solicitor, BALTIMORE CITY DEPARTMENT
OF LAW, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellees.
GREGORY, Chief Judge, and THACKER and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.
GREGORY, Chief Judge:
over a year, Appellant Marlow Humbert languished in pretrial
solitary confinement, charged with committing a heinous act
of sexual assault. The questionable investigatory strategies
of Baltimore City Police Department ("BPD")
officers led to Humbert's unlawful arrest. Afterwards,
the officers failed to inform the State's Attorney that
the victim could not positively identify Humbert and that DNA
reports excluded him as a suspect. Once the prosecutor
obtained this information, he dropped the charges and Humbert
was finally freed. Humbert then initiated a suit against the
officers who caused his arrest and the government officials
he believed sanctioned the deprivation of his liberty.
determined that the officers violated Humbert's
constitutional rights and awarded him $2.3 million in
compensatory and punitive damages. The district court,
however, struck the damages award, concluding that the
officers were entitled to qualified immunity because they had
probable cause to arrest Humbert. On appeal, Humbert
maintains that the district court erred in its probable cause
analysis by misinterpreting the evidence and misapplying the
law. As explained below, we reverse the district court's
judgment and remand with instructions to reinstate the jury
begin with a summary of the relevant evidence presented at
trial, viewed in the light most favorable to Humbert.
Buckley v. Mukasey, 538 F.3d 306, 321 (4th Cir.
2008). On April 29, 2008, a woman (the "victim")
was raped in her home in the Charles Village neighborhood of
Baltimore, Maryland. When Detective Dominic Griffin and
Sergeant Chris Jones arrived at the scene, the victim
described her attacker as a 5'7", African-American
male in his late 30s to early 40s who was fairly well-spoken.
The victim testified that Jones repeatedly asked whether the
assailant was homeless, but Jones testified that he did not
recall asking this question. Griffin then transported the
victim to the hospital for a physical exam, during which her
clothing was collected and physical evidence was retrieved
from her body.
she returned home, the victim, an experienced and
well-trained artist, sketched the assailant attempting to
capture his "very distinct features." J.A. 508. Her
sketch was discarded, however, because BPD procedure required
that an officer complete the composite sketch. The next day,
the victim met with an officer to generate the composite, but
it looked generic and she attempted to redraw portions of it.
The victim testified that at some point either during or
after completing the sketch, Jones showed her a photo on his
cellphone of a man he identified as her attacker. Jones
testified that he did not show "anybody a photo of
anything, " J.A. 622, but later stated that if he had
shown her a photo, "it would have been to tell her what
features to have drawn on the composite, " J.A. 654. The
officers created a "wanted" poster using the
composite sketch and the victim's physical description of
the assailant and disseminated it throughout the community
and to every police district in the city. They then began to
receive tips regarding people who resembled the sketch and
5, 2008, Detective Caprice Smith showed the victim both a
photo array of six individuals and a photobook with about
forty-five black-and-white and color printouts of potential
suspects, but the victim did not identify anyone. The victim
informed Smith that the photos were of poor quality and
distorted and that she could not identify a person of color
using a black-and-white printout. On May 7, 2008-eight days
after the attack- an officer stopped Humbert a couple of
blocks from the victim's home and took a picture of him
because he resembled the wanted poster. Humbert also informed
the officer that he was homeless.
following evening, Jones, Smith, and Griffin drove to the
victim's home to show her another photobook, which
included Humbert's picture. Upon seeing Humbert's
photo-the second in the book-the victim became very emotional
and started crying. She jabbed the photo, said
"that's him, " and attempted to push the
photobook away. J.A. 470. The victim testified that Humbert
had some facial features similar to her attacker, which
triggered her emotional response, and Humbert's photo
looked like the picture Jones showed her several days prior.
The victim wrote "that's him" on the back of
the photo and signed her name. She then informed Smith and
Griffin that she could not positively identify Humbert as her
assailant because she needed to see him in a physical lineup
and hear his voice. The officers assured her that they were
following BPD procedure and left her home.
hours later, after making two attempts to locate Humbert at
outdated addresses, the officers generated a second
"wanted" flyer indicating that Humbert was wanted
for rape and disseminated it to various BPD districts. Smith
also applied for an arrest warrant stating that the victim
positively identified Humbert as her attacker.Finding probable cause to support the
application, a court commissioner issued the arrest warrant.
In the early morning of May 10, 2008, while Humbert was at
work, an officer approached him with the wanted flyer and
asked whether he was the man on the flyer. Humbert initially
said yes, then saw the word "rape" and said,
"that's not me." J.A. 570. The officer arrested
Humbert and transported him to a police station. Humbert was
later transferred to a single cell where he remained for
nearly fifteen months.
learning of Humbert's arrest, the victim contacted Jones
to tell him that she could not positively identify Humbert as
her attacker. When she went to Humbert's arraignment on
June 23, 2008, she did not recognize Humbert. The victim
again informed Jones that she was not positive whether
Humbert was her attacker, but because Jones assured her that
the officers had DNA evidence, she agreed to testify against
him. The victim later met with Assistant State's Attorney
Joakim Tan to discuss the case, and during her monthly
conversations with Tan, she agreed to testify so long as
there was DNA evidence.
Humbert's extensive detention, the officers requested
several DNA samples and received reports excluding him as the
source of DNA found on the victim and her clothing. They
received the first report on June 2, 2008, and the last
report on December 15, 2008. Though the officers testified
that prosecutors generally obtain DNA reports directly from
the crime lab, they stated that if they had the reports, they
should have given them to Tan. In fact, on May 12, 2008-two
days after Humbert's arrest- Tan sent the officers a
memorandum requesting that any and all information received
by the BPD in connection with Humbert's case be
immediately delivered to his office. On June 23, 2008, at
Humbert's arraignment, Tan informed the court that he
heard, but had not confirmed, that Humbert's DNA did not
match any found on the victim. Tan declared that he needed
the DNA reports for confirmation, but he did not receive them
until May 11, 2009. Tan then informed the victim that there
was no DNA evidence connecting Humbert to her attack, and he
learned for the first time that the victim could not identify
Humbert and she refused to testify. On July 30, 2009, Tan
entered a nolle prosequi as to Humbert's
charges, and Humbert was finally released about fifteen
months after his arrest.
February 17, 2011, Humbert initiated this action against
officers Jones, Smith, and Griffin (hereinafter, the
"Officers"), and several other state and local
officials, alleging various violations of state law and the
Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. As relevant to this appeal, Humbert
asserted against the Officers claims for malicious
prosecution under § 1983 and for violations of Articles
24 and 26 of Maryland's Declaration of Rights. Humbert
alleged, among other things, that the Officers improperly
influenced the victim to identify him as her attacker and
that they arrested him without probable cause by submitting a
materially false arrest warrant application. Humbert further
alleged that, after his arrest, the Officers obtained DNA
reports excluding him as the attacker, but intentionally
failed to furnish the reports to Tan or inform Tan of the
victim's inability to positively identify him until the
eve of his criminal trial.
the district court denied the Officers' motion for
summary judgment as to these claims, the parties proceeded to
trial. The jury returned verdict sheets
with several factual findings.
jury found that Humbert had not proven that:
A. …[A] reasonable officer, in [the Officers']
place, would not have believed that he closely matched the
description of the attacker given by the victim.
B. …[A] reasonable officer, in [the Officers']
place, would not have believed that he closely resembled the
composite sketch completed by the victim.
C. …[W]hen he was stopped by an officer he was not
within blocks of the location where the victim's assault
D. …[His last known] address given to the officer when
he was stopped was less than two miles away from the location
where he was stopped.
E. …[The Officers] reasonably believed that when
[Humbert] was stopped by an officer he was not wearing a
stocking cap ...