United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
W. Grimm United States District Judge
January 2018, Osman Sesay stood trial for attempted
first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of
a violent felony. A jury acquitted him. Following his release
from prison, Mr. Sesay filed this lawsuit against the
Montgomery County police detective who secured the arrest
warrant, accusing him of weaving false or misleading
information into the warrant application. The suit also names
two other members of the county police force as defendants,
on the ground that they either directed the detective to
apply for the warrant or assisted him in an allegedly
Sesay's Amended Complaint brings identical claims against
all three policemen. Specifically, it would hold them liable
for violating the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendmenss to the
U.S. Constitution, as well as analogous provisions under the
Maryland Declaration of Rights. It also asserts claims of
false arrest and false imprisonment under Maryland common
seek to dismiss all claims. First, they argue the suit must
fail because the arrest was made pursuant to a facially valid
warrant. Next, they argue they are entitled to qualified
immunity because a reasonably objective police officer would
have believed there was probable cause to arrest Mr. Sesay.
Finally, they ask me to dismiss the claims against two of the
policemen, Sergeant Brian Merryman and Detective Rodney
Campbell, in light of the negligible roles they played in
securing the arrest.
with Defendants that a number of the claims Mr. Sesay has
asserted must be dismissed. To begin, I am dismissing all
claims against Sergeant Merryman and Detective Campbell, as I
agree that the allegations against them do not state a
plausible claim for relief. I am also dismissing the two
common law claims against the remaining defendant, Detective
David Woolsey, as the case law makes clear that these torts
do not lie against a police officer who, rather than
arresting the plaintiff, merely sought a warrant for his
arrest. See Humbert v. O'Malley, No.
WDQ-11-0440, 2014 WL 1266673, at *15 n.51 (D. Md. Mar. 25,
2014); Montgomery Ward v. Wilson, 664 A, 2d 916, 927
(Md. 1995). I am allowing Mr. Sesay to continue litigating
his claims under the federal and state constitution,, but
only to the extent they allege an unreasonable seizure.
history of this case starts with a shooting. The victim,
Thierno Bah, sought treatment for a gunshot wound at Holy
Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, on July 12, 2017.
Am. Compl. ¶ 13, ECF NO.4. He was soon
transferred to the trauma unit at Suburban Hospital in
Bethesda, Maryland, where staff assessed his injuries as
non-life-threatening. Id. ¶
there, a Montgomery County Police Department detective,
identified in the Amended Complaint as Detective Horwitz,
questioned Mr. Bah about the shooting. Id.
¶17. Mr. Bah explained it happened
during an altercation that afternoon at the corner of Wexhall
Drive and Almanac Road in Silver Spring. Id.
¶18-21. He was there at the
request of a friend, Ricardo, who wanted "back up"
while trying to collect a debt. Id.
¶18. The two of them drove to the
intersection, where they encountered a man Mr. Bah knew as
"Josh" and two other people he did not recognize,
both of whom were seated in a gray sedan. Id.
¶19-20. When Ricardo, later
identified as Ricardo Malcolm, got into an argument with
Josh, a man exited the sedan and fired a shot at Mr. Bah.
Id. Mr. Bah said he "could not recognize the
man who shot him and that he did not know what the [gunman]
looked like, but that Ricardo would be able to" identify
initial investigation did not corroborate Mr. Bah's
version of events. When Montgomery County police officers
promptly canvassed the area where, according to Mr. Bah's
account, the shooting took place, the officers did not find
any blood, shell casings, or witnesses. Id. ~ 24.
There were likewise no reports of gunshots or other loud
noises. Id. ~ 24.
Horwitz interviewed Mr. Malcolm the following day. Id.
¶26. Mr. Malcolm said he was not
with Mr. Bah on July 12 and did not know anything about a
Woolsey, the case's lead investigator, continued to work
the case over the next few weeks, reporting to his
supervisor, Sergeant Brian Merryman. Id.
¶28, 30. On July 25, 2017,
Detective Woolsey scrawled the following note in the case
file: "Sergeant wants to move on any suspects that we
can. Advised him that Bah will likely not cooperate,
or fake cooperation and ID a person he knows
is not the suspect."Case Notes 2, ECF No. 13-9
(emphasis in original).
his reservation,, Detective Woolsey and a colleague,
Detective Rodney Campbel,, persuaded Mr. Bah to come to the
station to participate in a photo array, which took place on
August 2, 2017. See Am. CompI.
34-35. Mr. Bah identified one of
the individuals in the array as "Josh" (separately
identified as Josh Toure), the man who had been arguing with
Mr. Malcolm at the time of the shooting. See Id.
to the Amended Complaint, Mr. Bah told Detective Campbell
just before the array "that he did not know who the
shooter was," but that Mr. Malcolm did, and he had
directed Mr. Bah to the gunmanss Instagram page. Id.
¶35. Mr. Bah provided Detective
Campbell with the suspectss Instagram handle and sent him a
photo that had been pulled off the Instagram page. Id.
~ 35, 37. Detective Campbell later ran the photo through
a facial recognition program, which identified the suspect as
Mr. Sesay. Id. ¶37.
returned to the station two days later for a second photo
array. See Id. ¶38. This time,
the array included a photo of Mr. Sesay. See Id. Mr.
Bah identified him as the shooter. See Id. ~ 42.
Woolsey applied for an arrest warrant for Mr. Sesay three
days later, on August 7, 2017. Id.
¶40. The application recounted Mr.
Bah's telling of events, then stated: "Additional
investigaiion by the applicant identified the shooter as
Osman Sesay, and that Sesay and Toure are known associates.
On August 5th, 2017 Bah identified Sesay's photo in a
photo array as the person who shot him." AppI. for
Statement of Charges 2, ECF No. 13-5. A commissioner reviewed
the application and issued an arrest warrant along with a
statement charging Mr. Sesay with first-degree assault,
conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, and use of a
firearm in the commission of a crime of violence.
See Arrest Warrant, ECF No. 13-7; Statement of
Charges, ECF No. 13-6.
Sesay turned himself in to the Montgomery County jail on
August 11, 2017. Am. Compl. ~ 51. He faced
trial on January 20, 2018, on charges of attempted
first-degree murder and use ofa firearm in the commission ofa
violent felony. See id; Indictmen,, ECF No. 13-10. A
jury acquitted him on all counts. Am. CompI.
Sesay filed this lawsuit on June 26, 2018, naming Sergeant
Merryman and Detectives Woolsey and Campbell (collectively,
"Defendants") as defendants. See CompI.,
ECF No. .. His Amended Complaint asserts
four claims against all Defendants: (1) violations of
Articles 24 and 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, (2)
violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution, (3) false arrest, and (4) false imprisonmen..
See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 57-82.
seek to dismiss the Amended Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Mot. to
Dismiss 1. They argue, first, that Mr. Sesay's claims
must fail because his arrest was made pursuant to a facially
valid warrant and that, anyway, it was supported by probable
cause. See Defs.' Mem. 6-13. They also argue
that Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. See
Id. at 16-22. Lastly, they urge me to dismiss all claims
against Sergeant Merryman and Detective Campbell on the
ground that the allegations against them do not state a claim
for relief. See Id. at 23-24.
parties have fully briefed their arguments. See ECF
Nos. 13, 17, 19. No. hearing is ...