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Stewart v. City of Oceanside

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 8, 2014

CITY OF OCEANSIDE, et al., Defendants.



Plaintiff Michael Stewart (hereinafter "Plaintiff" of "Stewart"), a nonprisoner proceeding pro se, has submitted a Complaint alleging civil rights violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No.1.) Plaintiff has not paid the $450 civil filing fee required to commence this action, but rather, has filed a motion to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). (Doc. No. 2.) Plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED. However, Plaintiff fails to state a cognizable claim, thus his Complaint is DISMISSED with leave to amend.


I. Factual Allegations[1]

On August 29, 2013, Plaintiff was attacked while walking at Oceanside Beach, City of Oceanside, California. Plaintiff states that he protected himself against his attackers by using a knife. (Doc. No. 1 at 1.) According to Plaintiff, two weeks prior to the August 29, 2013 incident, Plaintiff contacted the Oceanside Police Department to report threats made against him. "TOLD THEM THAT THIS ( sic ) PEOPLE HAD BEEN THREATHING ( sic ) ME, HARRASSING ( sic ) ME BECAUSE I WOULD RIDE THEM ( sic ) AROUND IN MY CAR SO THEY COULD SELL DRUGS...." ( Id. ) A dispatch officer instructed Plaintiff to go to the police station to make his report; he did so the next day. Plaintiff states that he asked an officer to "TELL THEM LEAVE ME ALONG ( sic ). ( Id. )

When officers arrived on the scene on August 29, 2013, Plaintiff alleges that his attackers made false statements to the officers. Moreover, one witness who spoke on Plaintiff's behalf attempted to tell the officers that Plaintiff did nothing wrong, but was told to leave. ( Id. ) Plaintiff was arrested and charged with two counts of PC 245(1) Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Plaintiff alleges that Officer Chris Ruedi retained possession of Plaintiff's car keys after booking him in the county jail. Plaintiff further states that his car was ticketed and impounded. Plaintiff alleges that such actions were unlawful.

Plaintiff states that during his court case, the only "EVIDENCE THAT OCEANSIDE POLICE DEPARTMENT HAD IN [his] CASE WAS THE POLICE REPORT AND THEY DID NOT HAVE MY CAR KEYS." ( Id. )[2] Plaintiff spent forty-four (44) days in jail. When he was released, Plaintiff had to pay $1, 790.00 for impound fees and $2, 011.91 to have his car re-keyed due to Officer Ruedi's alleged unlawful actions. Plaintiff further alleges that his car was broken into and his personal belongings stolen. Plaintiff filed a claim for damages with the City of Oceanside (Claim Number GC2013000147) which was denied by operation of law. (Doc. No. 1 at Ex. C.)

According to Officer Ruedi's Report, attached as Exhibit A to the Complaint, he received a citizen flag at the Oceanside Police Beach Lockup Facility referencing a fight that was occurring behind the building. (Doc. No. 1, Ex. A at 7.) Officers Ruedi was flagged by witnesses as he and a colleague exited the Lockup Facility. There, Officer Ruedi saw the suspect, Michael Stewart, holding a "large, black handled, fixed blade knife in his right hand." ( Id. ) Officer Ruedi states that Stewart appeared to have blood on his clothing and face. Officer Ruedi then proceeded to draw out his firearm and instructed Stewart to drop the knife and to lie in the prone position. Stewart complied and Sgt. Stanley handcuffed Stewart without further incident. ( Id. ) Thereafter, multiple officers assisted in the investigation by locating witnesses, interviewing witnesses, and collecting additional evidence. While conducting a witness search, Officer Ruedi noticed a black male nearby appearing to be injured. The subject, later identified as David Williamson ("Williamson"), reported that he had been stabbed by the suspect. Officer Ruedi noticed a small puncture wound on Williamson's left arm. ( Id. ) Williamson stated that he had tried to help a friend who was also being assaulted by Stewart. ( Id. at 8.)

Based upon evidence and statements obtained on the scene, Officer Ruedi formed the opinion that "Stewart was in violation of two counts of PC 245(1) Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Multiple witnesses identified Plaintiff as using his knife to stab two victims. Plaintiff was transported to Tri-City Medical Center based upon a laceration he sustained above his eye. Plaintiff stated to Officer Ruedi that he had pulled the knife in self-defense. Thereafter he was booked into custody and transported to Vista Detention Facilities. ( Id. )

Plaintiff alleges Officer Ruedi and the City of Oceanside maliciously violated his rights under the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Plaintiff contends that as a result of the Officer's action, his application for low-income housing was denied due to his lengthy history of serious crimes. ( Id. at 2; Ex. D Letter Denying Housing Application.) Plaintiff seeks $12 million in punitive and compensatory damages for mental, emotional and monetary loss. ( Id. at 4.) Plaintiff also requests the Court to instate a temporary restraining order against Officer Ruedi because he is "going through legal means to settle this matter." (Doc. No. 2.)


I. Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a), a court may authorize the commencement of a suit without prepayment of fees if the plaintiff submits an affidavit, including a statement of all his assets, showing he is unable to pay filing fees. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). However, even if a court finds the plaintiff has submitted adequate documentation detailing his inability to pay, before granting IFP status, the court must conduct a sua sponte review of the complaint to determine if the complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant immune from such relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Calhoun v. Stahl , 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2001) ("[T]he provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) are not limited to prisoners.").

Here, Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit to show his inability to pay the filing fees in this matter. (Doc. No. 2.) Plaintiff is not currently employed though he does receive an unspecified amount of money from Social Security, disability, or other welfare. ( Id. at 2.) Plaintiff has a checking account and has listed the present balance as $-79.00.[3] Plaintiff owns an automobile with a total of $6, 900 still ...

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