United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Williams has sued United States Marshals John Lopez and
Linwood “Chuck” Battle for unlawful search and
seizure. She sues Grady Management, Inc. (“GMI”)
for unlawful entry, unwarranted invasion of privacy and
breach of contract.
suit arises out of a warrantless search of Williams'
apartment residence, located in the Fox Hills apartment
complex at 1140 Kennebec Street, Unit 204, Oxon Hill,
Maryland (the “Unit”). On September 12, 2014,
Lopez, Battle and other law enforcement officers, all members
of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force
(“CARFTF”), were in pursuit of a fugitive-
Leonard Delonte Short-which led them to the Fox Hills
apartments, managed by GMI. When the CARFTF officers arrived,
Lopez first met with GMI representative Andrea Brown and
informed her that he believed the fugitive they were seeking
was residing in Williams' apartment. Based on that
information, Brown gave Lopez a key to the Williams
apartment, where CARFTF officers conducted a search but did
not discover the fugitive. Later that day, Short was in fact
found inside the apartment next door to Williams'
apartment and arrested.
Lopez and GMI have moved to dismiss Williams' claims for
failure to state a claim, or, in the alternative, for summary
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
are the undisputed facts.
28, 2014, Leonard Delonte Short (“Short”)
committed an armed bank robbery in Wilmington, North
Carolina. ECF No. 25-1 at 4. A North Carolina State warrant
for him was issued, and the U.S. Marshal Service
(“USMS”) began an interstate manhunt for him.
Id. On August 29, 2014, a Deputy U.S. Marshal in the
Eastern District of North Carolina asked CARFTF to assist in
the search for Short.
basis of confidential information, the USMS discovered that
Short was likely residing the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan
area. Id. Investigation further revealed that a
co-conspirator in the bank robbery, Short's possible
girlfriend Porsha Davis, had transported Short from North
Carolina to the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, that
Davis was in fact residing in the D.C. area, and that Short
had associations in the area, including with an individual
known as Lavonne “Lovie” Graves, as well as
several of Short's family members. Id. It was
also discovered that Short had previously been arrested in
Suitland, Maryland. Id. Finally, the USMS obtained
electronic surveillance orders for two cell phones, one
believed to belong to Short [telephone number (202) 910-9423]
and one believed to belong to Graves [telephone number (202)
413-8457] (together, the “target phones”).
Id. at 4, 5.
September 10, 2014, after conducting surveillance on her
residence, the USMS arrested and interviewed Porsha Davis.
Id. at 5. Davis told the officers that she believed
“Lovie” Graves to be Short's wife and that
Graves lived at the Fox Hills apartment complex, although
Davis did not identify the particular apartment in the
complex in which Short might be. Id. Davis further
provided descriptions of two vehicles known to be driven by
Short and Graves, viz., a blue Chevy Pacifica with D.C. tags
that Davis had observed Short driving on September 7, 2014,
and a red Toyota Camry with temporary tags believed to be
owned by Graves. Id.
on the information provided by Davis, on September 10, 2014,
CARFTF officers went to the Fox Hills complex and arranged
for visual surveillance of Short and Graves. Id. at
5. Shortly thereafter, the officers in fact observed the blue
Chevy Pacifica with D.C. tags associated with Short in the
parking lot, and watched as three people exited the apartment
complex and drove away in the vehicle. Id. None of
the individuals observed, however, matched the physical
description of Short. Id. After approximately four
hours, having failed to see Short or Graves, the officers
discontinued surveillance. Id.
days later, on September 12, 2014, Lopez, Battle and other
CARFTF officers again undertook visual surveillance at the
Fox Hills apartment complex. This time they did observe
Short-the fugitive in question-who, along with an
unidentified woman, walked into the apartment complex.
Id. 5-6. Since the stairwell leading to the second
floor of the apartment complex was visible from the exterior,
the officers were able to observe Short and the unidentified
woman walk up the stairwell to the second floor and into an
area of the building containing Units 203 and 204 (Plaintiff
Williams' apartment). Id. at 6. After seeing
Short, Lopez went to GMI's on-site office and spoke with
GMI's on-site property manager, Andrea Brown, while
Battle and other CARFTF officers waited in their vehicles.
Id. Lopez inquired of Brown whether Short or Graves
lived in the complex, but Brown replied that neither
individual was listed on a lease. Id. Brown then
provided Lopez with the names on the leases for Units 203 and
204. Id. Unit 203 was leased to an unknown male;
Unit 204, on the other hand, was leased to Plaintiff
relayed the names of the leaseholders for Units 203 and 204
to Senior Inspector Ed Cline (“Cline”), a member
of the USMS's Technical Operations Group
(“TOG”), who was at the complex conducting
electronic surveillance of the target phones from his
vehicle. Id. Cline ran the names of the two
leaseholders through the call records of the target phones
and found that Plaintiff Williams in Unit 204 had in fact
placed a phone call to Graves' phone number on the
morning of July 11, 2014. ECF No. 29-1 at 12. Cline relayed this
information to Lopez, who concluded that Short was very
likely residing in Unit 204. ECF No. 25-1 at 7. When Lopez
informed Brown of this determination, Brown provided Lopez
with a key to that Unit. Id. At no point did Lopez,
Battle or any of the other CARFTF officers obtain or provide
a search warrant for the Unit.
then informed the other CARFTF officers of his determination
that Short was likely residing in Unit 204. Id. The
officers proceeded to the second floor of the complex,
knocking on Williams' door, but received no response.
Id. at 8. They knocked again and announced their
presence, but again received no response. Id. Using
the key provided by Brown, the officers then entered Unit 204
and conducted a search for Short, but found no one inside.
Id. During the search, the officers noticed a
photograph of Williams wearing a Washington, D.C.
Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) uniform
whereupon members of the CARFTF, who were also MPD officers,
telephoned MPD and confirmed that Williams was indeed an
officer in the MPD's Sixth District. Id. Battle
and several other CARFTF officers immediately went to the
MPD's Sixth District Station, where they located and
interviewed Williams regarding Short and his whereabouts.
Id. During the interview, the officers showed
Williams a picture of Short, and she informed them that she
had in fact seen him with her neighbor. ECF No. 25-1 at 9;
ECF No. 29 at 1-2.
following the interview, the officers who met with Williams
relayed the information she provided to the CARFTF members
who had remained at Fox Hills. ECF No. 25-1 at 9. Those
officers proceeded to Unit 203, found Short inside, and
arrested him without incident. Id. at 9.
December 28, 2016, Williams filed a complaint in this Court
against GMI, Battle and the United States, alleging unlawful
search and seizure under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against
Battle, unlawful entry against all defendants, unwarranted
invasion of privacy against all defendants, and breach of
contract and negligence against GMI. On February 21, 2017,
GMI moved to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a
claim. On March 7, 2017, Williams filed a Response in
Opposition, and GMI filed a Reply. On July 11, 2017, Williams
filed an Amended Complaint that removed the United States as
Defendant and added John Lopez. She also amended her claims,
alleging unlawful search and seizure against Battle and
Lopez, and unlawful entry, breach of contract and unwarranted
invasion of privacy against GMI. On July 19, 2017, ...