United States District Court, D. Maryland
LAWRENCE N. LEWIS, Plaintiff,
CHARLES THOMAS BENNER Defendant.
RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
this Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order denying the
Motion to Dismiss filed on behalf of Defendant Charles Thomas
Benner,  Defendant filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment. ECF 14. Correspondence was sent to Plaintiff
Lawrence Lewis advising him of his right to file an
opposition and of the consequences of failing to do so. ECF
15. That correspondence was returned to the Court as
undeliverable on two occasions. ECF 16, 17. Upon
investigation, Lewis is no longer incarcerated in the Glen
Burnie facility and is now confined at Roxbury Correctional
Institution in Hagerstown, Maryland. Despite the affirmative
obligation to do so, Lewis did not provide the Court with a
notice of change in address. See Local Rule 102.1
.b.iii (D. Md. 2018). For the reasons that follow,
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted in
part as unopposed.
filed this complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in
connection with a traffic stop that occurred on July 19,
2017. ECF 1 at 5. Lewis was a passenger in the car, which was
stopped on Hogneck Road in Pasadena, Maryland for the
driver's failure to properly use his turn indicator and
failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.
Id. The driver of the car, Tim Reed, another
passenger, Kacey Kinghton, and Lewis were questioned by the
police officer and removed from the car. Id.
states he was approached by Detective Benner and asked if he
had anything on him. Id. Lewis replied he had money
inside a Crown Royal bag in the waistband of his shorts which
he retrieved and handed it to Benner. Id. Benner
then began a pat-down search of Lewis's person.
Id. Lewis maintains that Benner began "to
attempt... to aggressively insert his fingers between the
cheeks of my butt" during the pat-down search and that
he was unaware of the cause for such a search. Id.
He claims that the clothing he was wearing - basketball
shorts - were such that attempting to conceal a dangerous
item would have been impossible. Id. When Benner
asked Lewis why he was "tensing up," Lewis
responded he was uncomfortable with what Benner was doing,
but he claims Benner ignored his statement and continued to
tell him to "loosen up." Id.
handcuffing Lewis, Benner escorted Lewis to the patrol car
and opened the passenger side front door. Id.
According to Lewis, Benner applied "enough pressure to
bend [him] slightly at the waist, and with no warning took
his free hand and pulled [his] shorts down far enough to
expose [his] bare butt." Id. Lewis was then
placed in the front passenger seat of the patrol car.
drove the patrol car while Detective Rohe rode in the back
seat behind Lewis. Id. During the ride Lewis asked
why he had been placed under arrest and Benner responded he
was being arrested for "a crack pipe." Id.
at 6. Lewis claims that no crack pipe was ever found in his
possession during the search. Id.
claims he attempted to adjust his position in the seat of the
car because "the handcuffs were quite painful and were
digging into [his] wrists." Id. As he was doing
so, Benner suddenly "reached over, grabbed [him] by the
throat, and slammed [his] head into the passenger
window." Id. He seeks monetary damages for the
"mental anguish" caused by Benner's actions.
Id. at 3 (Statement of Relief) and 6.
Affidavit Benner explains that he and two other detectives
were conducting surveillance of a house about which police
had received numerous complaints about drugs. ECF 14-2 at 1,
¶4. The car Lewis was traveling in was seen leaving the
house under surveillance with multiple occupants inside the
car. Id. Benner arrived after the car was stopped
and was asked by another detective who was searching the
driver to conduct a search on the other occupants.
Id. Benner directed Lewis to get out of the car so
he could be searched. ECF 14-2 at 2, ¶5.
searching Lewis's pockets, Benner felt a foreign object
in the back of Lewis's shorts clenched between his
buttocks. ECF 14-2 at 2, ¶6. Benner could not retrieve
the object and Lewis refused to comply with directions to
spread his legs or to stop clenching. Id. at
¶7. Benner "could feel a hard rock like substance
protruding from his buttocks" but did not pull
Lewis's shorts down or expose his buttocks. Id.
Benner did, however, pull the waistband of Lewis's shorts
backward while looking toward the ground and waiting for the
object to fall. Id.
Detective King, who had initiated the traffic stop, advised
Benner that he had seen what appeared to be drug
paraphernalia in the car, Benner placed Lewis under arrest
for possession of drug paraphernalia and walked Lewis to the
patrol car. ECF 14-2 at 2, ¶9. Before placing Lewis in
the car, Benner "shook his shorts once more to see if
the secreted object had become dislodged during the
walk." Id. at ¶10. Benner states nothing
fell out and the object remained hidden in . Lewis's
shorts. Id. Because he was confident the object was
not a weapon, Benner placed Lewis in the police car to
transport him to "the Northern District Station so the
object could be recovered via proper strip search."
Id. Lewis was seated in the front passenger seat and
Detective Rohe sat behind Lewis to maintain sight of him at
all times during the transport to the police station.
Id. at ¶11.
the drive, Lewis, who was handcuffed behind his back, began
moving around in the front seat excessively. ECF 14-2 at 3,
¶12. Benner signaled to Rohe that Lewis was attempting
to retrieve the object from his shorts. Id. As
Benner "heard Mr. Lewis remove the object from his
shorts," Rohe grabbed Lewis's handcuffed wrists to
prevent him from destroying the object. Id. at
¶ 13. Benner pulled the car over and stopped, whereupon
Rohe and Benner retrieved the object, which appeared to be
clear bags containing crack-cocaine, from Lewis's hand.
Id. at ¶14. Lewis was then taken to the police
station where he was subjected to a full strip search and
charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance
with intent to distribute. Id. at ¶¶ 15,
a hearing on Lewis's motion to suppress evidence in the
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, both Benner
and Lewis testified regarding the search. ECF 14-2 at
¶17, see also ECF 14-3 at 56-102 (Benner's
testimony), 103-19 (Lewis's testimony). The motion to
suppress was denied, the court finding that although the
initial stop of the car was pretextual, the subsequent
detention and search of the occupants was lawful in light of
the discovery of a crack pipe in plain view when the driver
exited the car. ECF 14-3 at 122-128 (transcript of
court's ruling from the bench).
October 25, 2018, Lewis was found guilty on an agreed
statement of facts of one count of possession of a controlled
dangerous substance with intent to distribute. ECF 14-4 at 1.
On March 15, 2019, He was sentenced to 20 years with all but
15 years suspended followed by five years of supervised
probation. Id. at 2. Lewis has appealed his
conviction to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, but no
decision has been issued by that court. See State v.
Lewis, Crim. Case ...