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Stewart v. City of Oceanside

United States District Court, S.D. California

January 8, 2015

CITY OF OCEANSIDE, et al., Defendants.



Pro se plaintiff Michael Stewart filed this action alleging civil rights violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Compl., Doc. No.1.) By Order of July 8, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion for leave to proceed in forma paurperis, but dismissed his claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). (Order, Doc. No. 5.) The Court gave Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint, which Plaintiff did. (FAC, Doc. No. 7.) Soon thereafter, Defendants moved to dismiss, which the Court now addresses.

I. Facts Alleged in the First Amended Complaint

The following facts are derived from the First Amended Complaint ("FAC") and its attachments.

In August 2013, Plaintiff contacted the Oceanside Police Department to report threats made against him. (FAC 1.) He told the police that "these people" had been threatening and harassing him because he "would ride them around in [his] car to sell drugs."[1] ( Id. ) A dispatch officer instructed Plaintiff to go to the police station to make his report; he did so the next day. ( Id. ) A police sergeant took Plaintiff's report and noted that he knew the leader of the gang Plaintiff referenced. ( Id. ) Plaintiff "only asked that he tell them to leave me alon[e] but they didn't." ( Id. )

Plaintiff alleges that he was attacked on August 29, 2013, while walking at Oceanside Beach in Oceanside, California. ( Id. ) He used a knife to protect himself, and when officers arrived, they arrested him. ( Id. ) One witness "was speaking on [Plaintiff's] behalf" but Officer Ryan Keim allegedly said that did not want to hear anything the witness had to say. ( Id. ) Additionally, when Plaintiff arrived at the detention center, Officer Keim informed him that they were keeping his keys, prompting Plaintiff to yell at the officers because the car was not involved in the incident. ( Id. ) Plaintiff was eventually jailed for forty-four days. ( Id. )

Plaintiff asserts that the Oceanside Police and his attackers conspired against him, highlighting the costs he incurred in releasing his vehicle from impound, $1, 790, and in having the vehicle re-keyed, $2, 011.91. ( Id. at 2.) Plaintiff further alleges that his car was broken into and his personal belongings were stolen. ( Id. ) He notes that Oceanside Police first said they did not have his keys, but later found them. ( Id. ) Plaintiff filed a claim for damages with the City of Oceanside (FAC Ex. C) which was denied by operation of law. ( Id. )

Throughout the FAC, Plaintiff references a 911 call, but does not describe who placed the call, under what circumstances the call was made, or the content of call. (FAC 2-6.)

The FAC contains attachments, including several law enforcement reports, various documents related to Plaintiff's vehicle, Plaintiff's claim for damages to the City of Oceanside and subsequent rejection, and a letter from the Association for Community Housing Solutions to Plaintiff. (FAC Exs. A-D.)

According to the officer's report attached as Exhibit A to the FAC, the police received a citizen flag at the Oceanside Police Beach Lockup Facility regarding a fight that was occurring behind the building. (FAC Ex. A at 7.) As the officer and his colleague exited the facility, he was approached by witnesses about the incident, one of whom said the knife-wielding perpetrator had run to another side of the building. ( Id. ) The officer then observed Plaintiff holding a "large, black handled, fixed blade knife in his right hand." ( Id. ) Plaintiff appeared to have blood on his clothing and face. ( Id. ) The reporting officer drew his firearm and instructed Plaintiff to drop the knife and to lie in the prone position. ( Id. ) Plaintiff complied and another officer handcuffed Plaintiff, as additional law enforcement arrived. ( Id. ) Multiple officers assisted in the investigation by locating witnesses, interviewing witnesses, and collecting additional evidence. ( Id. ) While conducting a witness search, the officer noticed a male who appeared to be injured. ( Id. ) The man exhibited a small puncture wound on the inside of his left arm and reported that he had been stabbed by "the suspect, " positively identified as Plaintiff. ( Id. at 7-8.) The man stated that he had tried to help a friend who was also being assaulted by Plaintiff. ( Id. at 8.) Others also positively identified Plaintiff as the perpetrator and reported assaultive actions by Plaintiff. ( Id. at 7-8.) Another victim was identified, who reported that Plaintiff tried to stab him in the abdomen ( id. at 7) and had held a knife to the victim's throat ( id. at 8).

Based on evidence and statements obtained on the scene, the officer formed the opinion that Plaintiff had committed two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. ( Id. at 8.) The officer noted that multiple witnesses identified Plaintiff as using his knife to stab two victims, he was positively identified by both victims, and he was in possession of a large, fixed-blade knife upon initial police contact. ( Id. ) Plaintiff was transported to a medical center because he had a laceration above his eye. ( Id. ) At the medical facility, Plaintiff provided a post- Miranda [2] statement in which he said he had felt threatened by a group of subjects at the amphitheater[3] and pulled the knife out in self defense. ( Id. ) He was later transported to a detention facility and booked into jail. ( Id. ) The other police reports attached to the FAC contain additional witness and officer statements. Each describes Plaintiff as attacking people with a knife.

Also attached to the FAC is a letter from the Association for Community Housing Solutions, which notes that the organization will not be following through with Plaintiff's application. (FAC Ex. D.) The letter states three reasons for not pursuing the application: (1) Plaintiff's "lengthy history of serious crimes, including assaults dating back at least 5 years" and the pending criminal charges for assault with a deadly weapon, (2) the pending criminal charges stemming from the August 2013 incident in which Plaintiff was accused of attacking others with a knife, and (3) Plaintiff's comment regarding his plans to carry a weapon on his person at all times, in violation of the organization's policies. ( Id. )

In the present action, Plaintiff alleges that Oceanside Police Department conspired with his attackers, in violation of Plaintiff's civil rights. (FAC 4.) Specifically, he cites his rights protected by the Fourth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[4] ( Id. at 4-5.) Plaintiff contends that Defendants' willful violation of his civil rights caused him mental and emotional stress, monetary loss, damaged his credit, made his life "more unmanageable, " and caused him to stay homeless. ( Id. at 7.) Additionally, he alleges that the incident with the police resulted in the rejection of his low-income housing application. ( Id. at 3.) As such, Plaintiff requests $12 million in damages. ( Id. at 7.) He also makes mention of punitive damages, though it is unclear if the punitive damages sought are included in the $12 million requested. ( Id. at 8.)

Defendants now move to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.[5] (Defs.' Mem. 2, Doc. No. 12-1.) In the alternative, Defendants request a more definite statement, pursuant to Rule 12(e). ( Id. at 12.) Plaintiff responded (Doc. No. 15), then filed an additional response (Doc. No. 24), and Defendants replied (Doc. No. 25). Because Plaintiff had filed an additional response, the Court issued an order (Doc. No. 26) permitting an additional reply (Doc. No. 27), and the motions were submitted (Doc. No. 28). Plaintiff then filed an additional memorandum (Doc. No. 29), purporting ...

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