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Felder v. Bettis

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 6, 2017

MAURICE MARKELL FELDER, Plaintiff
v.
Officer TIMOTHY BETTIS, Officer ROBERT JOHNSON, Officer EDWARD DREW, Officer CHRIS MURRAY, In their individual and official capacities Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge

         In this civil rights action filed by Maurice Felder, plaintiff, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff complains that Montgomery County Police Department (“MCPD”) officers at the scene of his arrest - Timothy Bettis, Robert Johnson, Edward Drew, and Chris Murray - improperly pursued him from Montgomery County, Maryland into the District of Columbia, where they used excessive force during his arrest, broke his jaw, and failed to intervene to stop the alleged beating, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. ECF 1 at 6-7, Causes of Action III through VI.

         Previously, Felder's allegations against Montgomery County Executive Leggett and MCPD Captain Jones for failing to train and supervise these officers to prevent violation of the “fresh pursuit” doctrine and curtail the use of excessive force during arrest (ECF 1 at 5-6, Causes of Action I and II) were dismissed on April 26, 2017, as were all allegations of constitutional wrongdoing, other than Felder's allegations of excessive force during arrest by defendant Officers Bettis, Johnson, Drew, and Murray.[1] ECF 18; ECF 19.

         On May 22, 2017, Bettis, Drew, Johnson, and Murray filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF 21), supported by a memorandum (ECF 21-1) (collectively, “Motion”) and exhibits. On May 23, 2017, a Rule 12/56 notice was sent to Felder, pursuant to the dictates of Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). See ECF 23. In the notice, Felder was advised of his right to respond within seventeen days, and that failure to respond could result in dismissal of the case. Felder did not timely respond.

         On August 10, 2017, two months after the deadline for Felder's response, he moved for an extension of time to respond (ECF 30), and four days later he filed his opposition response to the motion, ECF 32, which defendants seek to strike as untimely. ECF 34. The motion for extension of time is granted nunc pro tunc to August 14, 2017. I shall deny defendants' motion to strike.

         Felder has also filed a motion for leave to file a supplemental complaint, citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a) and 19(A) (concerning required joinder of parties). ECF 30. The proposed supplemental complaint is not attached to the motion, which contains no information or allegations against the defendants. Nor does the proposed supplemental complaint suggest why additional parties should be joined. Given this dearth of information, the motion is denied.

         Felder has also moved twice for the appointment of counsel. ECF 25; ECF 35. As discussed, infra, I shall deny that motion.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the remaining Motion. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant the Motion and enter judgment in favor of defendants.

         I. Factual Background

         As outlined in further detail in the Memorandum of April 26, 2017, on July 15, 2014, MCPD personnel met with the victim of a robbery who reported that an African-American male wearing dark clothing and a mask had accosted her with a handgun and stolen her purse and iPhone. With permission of the victim, an officer activated the “Find My iPhone” application, and radioed the location of the stolen phone to other MCPD officers, several of whom converged on a vehicle driven by Felder and located in Washington, D.C. ECF 18 at 2-3.

         While the vehicle was stopped, Corporal Haak ordered Felder to halt. When Felder ran, Haak and other MCPD officers pursued him. During the chase, Haak saw Felder reaching for his waistband, turning, and “squaring up” on the officers who, with guns drawn, ordered him to the ground. Felder paused, then ran again before being apprehended.

         In plain view, through the car window, the police saw the victim‘s purse. A handgun was found where Felder “squared up” during the chase. A search of Felder's person led to the recovery of the victim‘s credit cards, but the iPhone was never recovered. Id. at 3. Felder claims that during this event he was assaulted by one or more officers and his jaw was broken in three places, while other officers did nothing to stop the attack. ECF 1 at 6-7. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages based on the alleged Fourth Amendment violation. Id. at 8-9.

         In criminal proceedings held in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Felder moved to suppress the evidence recovered upon his arrest, on the basis that the arresting officers violated the Uniform Act on Fresh Pursuit, Md. Code, Crim. Proc. Art., § 2-204 et seq., by arresting him in the District of Columbia, despite the fact that the robbery occurred in Maryland. He also argued that the police did not have probable cause to make a warrantless arrest. The motion was denied. Following a jury trial in that court, Felder was convicted of robbery and, on April 1, 2015, he was sentenced to fifteen years' imprisonment, with all but eight years suspended, and five years of supervised probation. ECF 18 at 3. He remains incarcerated within the Maryland Division of Correction and currently is housed at Jessup Correctional Institution.

         II. ...


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