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Elder v. City of Danville

United States District Court, Fourth Circuit

December 12, 2013

MICHAEL ELDER, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF DANVILLE, VA and OFFICER THOMPSON, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JACKSON L. KISER, Senior District Judge.

Before me is Defendant City of Danville's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [ECF No. 24]. Plaintiff Michael Elder ("Plaintiff"), who is proceeding pro se, was served with the Motion and a notice pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison , 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975). Plaintiff filed a response [ECF No. 30], the City of Danville replied [ECF No. 31], and Plaintiff filed an additional response without leave of court [ECF No. 33]. I have thoroughly reviewed all the filed pleadings and relevant arguments, and the matter is now ripe for decision. For the reasons stated below, I will GRANT the City's Motion to Dismiss.

I. STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiff contends that, on October 25, 2012, he was stopped outside his sister's apartment by Officer Thompson of the Danville Police Department ("DPD"). (See Compl. ¶ 1 [ECF No. 3].) Plaintiff says that he was dropping off his cousin when Officer Thompson "block[ed] him in and he call[ed] out his name. [Officer Thompson] said he has been looking for [Plaintiff] so that he could arrest [him]. [Officer Thompson] could not produce any documentation that stated [Plaintiff] had a warrant/capias for [his] arrest." (Id.)

Plaintiff says that, when Officer Thompson approached him, Officer Thompson said he had a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest for failure to appear. (Compl. ¶ 2.) When Officer Thompson called in for a "warrants check, " Plaintiff says the dispatcher told him that there was no arrest warrant issued for Plaintiff, but merely a summons. (Id.) Plaintiff tried to explain that the matter had been handled and cleared by the Martinsville courts. (Id.) Plaintiff says that, although he "had the paperwork in [his] hands that showed that the matter in which he stopped me had been resolved[, ]... [Officer Thompson] did not believe [him]." (Id.)

Plaintiff says that Officer Thompson then handcuffed him, kneed him multiple times in the thigh, and elbowed him in the side of his face. (Compl. ¶ 3.) He says Officer Thompson "pepper sprayed" him multiple times and put him in the back of his DPD police cruiser. (Id.) Plaintiff asked for medical treatment and Officer Thompson denied it. (Id.) He states that Officer Thompson searched his vehicle without permission and "would claim that he found money and drugs in the car." (Id.) Officer Thompson said in later court proceedings "that he found drugs and could not produce the money that was found...."[2] (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that the unlawful search violated his Fourth Amendment rights, and that the unlawful detention violated his civil rights. He also is asserting a cause of action against Officer Thompson for "excessive force." (Compl. ¶ 4.)

With regard to Defendant the City of Danville ("the City"), Plaintiff argues that "[t]his was clearly a failure to train, supervise, and discipline an officer by the officer not taking Mr. Elder to the hospital and for not looking at the arrest warrant to see if it was a capias or summons for failure to appear." (Compl. ¶ 5.) He asserts that "[t]he last time a police officer lied about what happen [sic] in a formal complaint in regards to shooting a dog and it was later found the officer did not use justified force. The officer was fired and supervisors discipline [sic] for not doing a proper investigation." (Id.) Plaintiff also asserts "special treatment for certain officers while other officers get discipline." (Compl. ¶ 6.)

In his Amended Complaint, [3] Plaintiff adds that the City "has a custom of withholding video and audio recordings of those who are arrested and this goes against [Plaintiff's] Constitutional right to have exculpatory evidence." (Am. Compl. ¶ 4 [ECF No. 18].)

In his Response to the City's Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff adds the following allegations:

1.) The City of Danville fail [sic] to supervise Officer Thompson & allowes [sic] him and other officers on the Street Crime Unit to comfront [sic] people based on suspicion which is a custom and policy.
2.) The city [sic] of Danville allowed Officer Thompson to assault & pepper spray me (Plaintiff) without requiring the officer filling out a use of force form[.]
3.) The City of Danville refused to hold an [sic] formal hearing to investigate my (Plaintiff) compliantsth [sic] in violation of my 4th and 8th amendment rights and due process and equal protection rights which is a City custom and policy.
4.) The City of Danville refused to release Audio & Video tapes to Plaintiffs [sic] is in violation of my due process rights and my right to face my accused which is a city custom and policy.
5.) The City of Danville allowed Officer Thompson to refuse Medical care to an injured person under arrest without discipline [sic] the officer for his behavior. This was violation of my 4th and 8th amendment rights ...

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