United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
E. Conrad, Senior United States District Judge
Travis LeGendre, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro
se, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983, alleging that police have violated his
constitutional right to equal protection by refusing to
prosecute the woman who has accused him of crimes. Upon
review of the record, the court finds that the action must be
submissions allege the following sequence of events on which
he bases his claim. He is a pretrial detainee at the
Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail. LeGendre, who is
black, claims that a white woman “attacked and cut
[him] with a knife” and that the police allowed her
“to press a number of serious charges against [him]
with a story full of holes and lies.” Compl. 2-3, ECF
No. 1. LeGendre then filled out a criminal complaint against
the woman and went before a magistrate. After reading the
complaint, the magistrate said that it would result in felony
charges and that LeGendre would have to appear in court, to
which he agreed. The magistrate then called the
Charlottesville Police Department (“CPD”) to
authorize the warrant. Two officers came to interview
LeGendre, who told them all that he could about the incident.
One of them, Detective Money, told LeGendre, “We're
not going to help you with this.” Compl. Attach. 1, ECF
filed a CPD Citizen Complaint Form against the detective,
contending that his decision not to prosecute LeGendre's
criminal complaint against the woman was race discrimination.
LeGendre stated, “A white woman was able to get me
locked away with her testimony alone but a black man with
evidence that she lied and assaulted him can't even get
an investigation.” Id. A CPD lieutenant spoke
with LeGendre about his complaint. A few weeks later, the
lieutenant notified him that the CPD investigation of his
complaint was completed and that “the evidence and
statements collected . . . [did] not sufficiently
support” his discrimination claim against the
detective. Id. at 5. LeGendre asserts, “Had
they treated my criminal complaint as they treated my
attacker's, the investigation process would have led to
her arrest and my release, but instead I am held in
jail.” Compl. 3, ECF No. 1. LeGendre also complains
that the jail is not equipped to address his back and nerve
pain and that he has been prescribed increasing dosages of
medication for depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
filed this § 1983 action, alleging that these events
constituted race discrimination, in violation of the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He sues the
CPD and the detective who interviewed him, seeking an
investigation and monetary damages for his pain and
court is required to dismiss any action or claim filed by a
prisoner against a governmental entity or officer if the
court determines the action or claim is frivolous, malicious,
or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted. 28
U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1). In order to state a claim in any
federal civil action, the plaintiff's “[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level, ” to one that is
“plausible on its face, ” rather than merely
“conceivable.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
Equal Protection Clause “does not take from the States
all power of classification, but keeps governmental decision
makers from treating differently persons who are in all
relevant respects alike.” Veney v. Wyche, 293
F.3d 726, 730 (4th Cir. 2002) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted). Thus, to prove an equal protection
claim, LeGendre “‘must first demonstrate that he
has been treated differently from others with whom he is
similarly situated and that the unequal treatment was the
result of intentional or purposeful
discrimination.'” Id. (quoting
Morrison v. Garraghty, 239 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir.
equal protection fails on the first facet of the analysis. He
has not demonstrated that he and the woman were similarly
situated in all respects relevant to CPD officials'
decision to prosecute their criminal complaints or not.
LeGendre's facts do not include any information about the
nature of the woman's claims against him or her criminal
history, which can adversely affect a complainant's
credibility. Similarly, he provides almost no information
about the circumstances on which he based his criminal
complaint against the woman. Thus, the court cannot find that
he has met the requirement of showing how he was similarly
situated to the woman.
also has not satisfied the requirement to show purposeful
discrimination. To state an actionable § 1983 claim of
race discrimination, an inmate must present more than
conclusory allegation of racism or discrimination.
Chapman v. Reynolds, 378 F.Supp. 1137, 1140 (W.D.
Va. 1974). He must allege facts establishing that a
“discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor”
in the challenged, official decision. Village of
Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development
Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 266 (1977). “[A]bsent some
factual evidence the court will not look behind the
determinations of prison officials on mere accusations that
they are racially motivated.” Chapman, 378
F.Supp. at 1140. LeGendre provides no such factual support
for his race discrimination claim. At the most, he alleges
that he is black and did not have his criminal complaint
prosecuted, while a white woman's criminal complaint
against him is being prosecuted. He provides no factual basis
to support a reasonable inference that the official decision
not to prosecute his complaint was based on his race, rather
than on a legitimate, nondiscriminatory factor, such as the
totality of the evidence already collected by authorities to
support the charges that stemmed from the woman's
complaint against him.
reasons stated, the court will dismiss LeGendre's
complaint without prejudice, pursuant to § 1915A(b)(1),
for failure to state a claim. An appropriate order will issue
herewith. Dismissal without prejudice leaves LeGendre free to
refile his claims in a new and separate civil action if he
can correct the deficiencies described in this opinion.
Clerk is directed to send copies of this memorandum opinion