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Santiago v. The Baltimore City Police Department

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 30, 2018

MELVIN SANTIAGO, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
THE BALTIMORE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          GEORGE L. RUSSELL, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant the Baltimore City Police Department's (“BPD”) Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 43). The Motion is ripe for disposition, and no is hearing necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons outlined below, the Court will grant the Motion.

         I.BACKGROUND[1]

         BPD has employed Santiago, a Hispanic man, as a police officer since February 25, 2003. (2d Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1-2, ECF No. 20). From 2004 to 2010, Santiago worked as a narcotics detective and received several citations and awards for his performance. (Id. ¶¶ 8- 9). Around October of 2010, BPD transferred Santiago to uniform patrol because too many individuals whose money and property he had seized filed complaints against him. (Id.¶¶ 10-11). On June 22, 2011, while on uniform patrol, Santiago searched a car during a traffic stop and confiscated a handgun, marijuana, $430 in cash, and an iPhone. (Id. ¶¶ 13- 14). Instead of following BPD policy, which required him to submit the items to the Evidence Control Unit, Santiago placed the cash and iPhone in a cabinet. (Id. ¶¶ 14-15). When the owner of the cash and iPhone came to the police station to get them back, Santiago contacted his supervisor, who instructed him to submit the property to the Evidence Control Unit. (Id. ¶ 15).

         The incident was reported to BPD's Internal Affairs Division, which began an investigation. (Santiago Dep. 101:6-14, Feb. 8, 2017, ECF No. 43-4). After its investigation, Internal Affairs sustained the allegations and referred the incident to a Charging Committee. (2d Am. Compl. ¶ 17). The Charging Committee then issued charges of conduct unbecoming of an officer, knowingly making a false statement, intentional violation of a law, unsatisfactory performance, failing to act with integrity, and mishandling property against Santiago. (Id. ¶¶ 17-18).

         On June 9, 2012-while his charges were still pending-Santiago took the Police Sergeants Examination for Baltimore City, after which he placed 46th out of 218 officers eligible for promotion from October 22, 2012 to October 21, 2014. (Id. ¶ 28). According to Baltimore City Code of Public Local Laws § 16-10(c), the Commissioner must consider the top five scoring applicants from the examination list when promoting officers to the rank of Sergeant. (Id. ¶ 29). The four applicants who are skipped over for a particular appointment to Sergeant remain in the group of five for the next appointment. (Id.). BPD policy, however, does not permit the Commissioner to consider applicants who have an Internal Affairs investigation pending. (Pl.'s Opp. Mot. Summ. J. Ex. 4 at 3, ECF No. 53-4). The Commissioner passed over Santiago for the promotion to Sergeant. (Id. ¶¶ 30, 32). Santiago believed the Commissioner passed over him because of his pending disciplinary charges. (Id. ¶ 30).

         On November 6, 2013, a panel of three officers on the Departmental Trial Board heard the charges against Santiago. (Id. ¶ 21). Santiago pled guilty to the mishandling property charge. (Id.). The Trial Board acquitted Santiago of the remaining charges. (Id.).

         Nonetheless, on March 12, 2014, the Commissioner issued a final order suspending Santiago for thirty days without pay and requiring him to sign a severe letter of reprimand. (Id. ¶¶ 24-25). On April 1, 2014, Santiago signed the letter. (Id. ¶ 31). The Commissioner continued to pass over Santiago for the promotion to Sergeant through October 21, 2014, even though Santiago was in the group of five. (Id. ¶ 32). Meanwhile, Candidate 6, [2] a non-Hispanic officer who was in the same group of five as Santiago, was promoted to Sergeant during this period despite having an Internal Affairs investigation pending. (Id.; Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. [“Def.'s Mot.”] Ex. 22, ECF No. 44-9). Santiago believes he was not promoted because of his race. (Id. ¶ 34).

         On August 12, 2014, Santiago filed a charge of discrimination with the Baltimore Community Relations Commission and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). (Id. ¶ 6). On September 10, 2015, the EEOC issued a right to sue letter to Santiago. (Id. ¶ 7). On December 7, 2015, Santiago filed a Complaint against BPD alleging employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq. (2018). (Compl. ¶ 35, ECF No. 1). On February 6, 2016, Santiago filed an Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 5), and on June 10, 2016, he filed a Second Amended Complaint, (ECF No. 20). Santiago seeks damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. (Id. ¶ 36).

         BPD now moves for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), filing its Motion on June 5, 2017. (ECF No. 43). Santiago filed an Opposition on June 30, 2017. (ECF No. 52). BPD filed a Reply on July 31, 2017. (ECF No. 57).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the Court views the facts in a light most favorable to the nonmovant, drawing all justifiable inferences in that party's favor. Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586 (2009); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986) (citing Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59 (1970)). Summary judgment is proper when the movant demonstrates, through “particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials, ” that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A). Significantly, a party must be able to present the materials it cites in “a form that would be admissible in evidence, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2), and supporting affidavits and declarations “must be made on personal knowledge” and “set out facts that would be admissible in evidence, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4).

         Once a motion for summary judgment is properly made and supported, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to identify evidence showing there is genuine dispute of material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). The nonmovant cannot create a genuine dispute of material fact “through mere speculation or the building of one inference upon another.” Othent ...


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