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Codie Williams v. City of Sacramento Police Department

March 5, 2012



Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with this civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In addition to filing a complaint, plaintiff has filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. This proceeding was referred to this court by Local Rule 302 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and is before the undersigned pursuant to plaintiff's consent. See E.D. Cal. Local Rules, Appx. A, at (k)(4).

I. Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Plaintiff has requested leave to proceedin forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Dckt. Nos. 2, 8, 10. Plaintiff's application makes the showing required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1) and (2). Accordingly, by separate order, the court directs the agency having custody of plaintiff to collect and forward the appropriate monthly payments for the filing fee as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1) and (2).

II. Screening Order

Federal courts must engage in a preliminary screening of cases in which prisoners seek redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The court must identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted," or "seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Id. § 1915A(b).

In order to avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim a complaint must contain more than "naked assertions," "labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-557 (2007). In other words, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009).

Furthermore, a claim upon which the court can grant relief has facial plausibility. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949. When considering whether a complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must accept the allegations as true, Erickson v. Pardus, 127 S. Ct. 2197, 2200 (2007), and construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, see Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974).

A pro se plaintiff must satisfy the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 8(a)(2) "requires a complaint to include a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554, 562-563 (2007) (citing Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957)).

The court has reviewed plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A and finds it does not state a cognizable claim against any defendant for the following reasons.

Plaintiff names as defendants the City of Sacramento Police Department, and Wilhite, Faria, and Ellis, who are alleged to be police officers. He alleges defendants Wilhite, Faria, and Ellis arrived at a residence on January 19, 2010 with a warrant for his arrest. He claims Faria pulled out his gun and told the woman who had opened the front door to get out of the residence. Plaintiff claims he was standing eight feet away from Faria with his hands up, and Faria ordered plaintiff to get on the ground. Faria purportedly got on top of plaintiff and put him in a wrist lock "in an aggressive manner exerting excessive force causing excruciating pain and tearing tendon from bone," which resulted in plaintiff's need for corrective surgery. Dckt. No. 1 at 3. Plaintiff claims he complied with all of Faria's orders and "did nothing wrong." Id. Faria then allegedly placed plaintiff in handcuffs, which were too tight. Faria then allegedly searched plaintiff and found two ecstacy pills.

Next, plaintiff claims defendants Wilhite and Ellis entered the residence and "began an unwarranted and unconsentual illegal search of the home." Id. at 4. The officers allegedly detected the smell of marijuana and searched the contents of plaintiff's cell phone. Without reading plaintiff his Miranda rights, defendant Ellis allegedly questioned plaintiff about the phone's content and asked, "where's the cocaine?" Id. at 5. Plaintiff alleges Ellis later "twisted" plaintiff's "non-Mirandized" responses to incriminate plaintiff. He also alleges Ellis informed the woman at the residence of plaintiff's alleged infidelity based on what he had seen on plaintiff's cell phone.

He claims defendants found $2550 in cash at the home, and that Ellis wrote a false report claiming plaintiff requested that Ellis "retrieve" the money. Id. at 6.

Plaintiff claims he was placed in the defendants' vehicle and denied medical attention, and that Ellis made comments about plaintiff being in a relationship with a white woman. He alleges that he was abused "as part of a policy and practice of wantonly inflicting physical pain upon arrestees who are persons of color." Id. at 7.

He claims defendants violated his Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and excessive force, and his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. He also alleges he was denied constitutionally adequate medical care and that his bail was excessively set at $1.2 million for a "minor felony conviction, to ensure the unnecessary infliction of cruel and unusual punishment against a person of color." Id. at 11. He also alleges ...

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