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Roberts v. Unknown Wichita Police Officers

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 24, 2019

ROBERT FITZGERALD ROBERTS, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
UNKNOWN WICHITA POLICE OFFICERS and WICHITA POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendants.

          ORDER

          SAM A. CROW, U.S. DISTRICT SENIOR JUDGE

         This case is before the court to screen plaintiff's pro se complaint (Doc. No. 1) and related materials pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. Plaintiff has stated his complaint on a form for bringing a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         I. Pro se standards

         “A pro se litigant's pleadings are to be construed liberally and held to a less stringent standard than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hall v. Bellmon, 935 F.2d 1106, 1110 (10th Cir. 1991). A pro se litigant, however, is not relieved from following the same rules of procedure as any other litigant. See Green v. Dorrell, 969 F.2d 915, 917 (10th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 940 (1993). A district court should not “assume the role of advocate for the pro se litigant.” Hall, supra. Nor is the court to “supply additional factual allegations to round out a plaintiff's complaint.” Whitney v. State of New Mexico, 113 F.3d 1170, 1173-74 (10th Cir. 1997).

         II. Screening standards

         Title 28 United State Code Section 1915A requires the court to review cases filed by prisoners seeking redress from a governmental entity or employee to determine whether the complaint is frivolous, malicious or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. When deciding whether plaintiff's complaint “fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, ” the court must determine whether the complaint contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)(quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).

The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.

Id. A plausibility analysis is a context-specific task depending on a host of considerations, including judicial experience, common sense and the strength of competing explanations for the defendant's conduct. See id. at 679; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 567. The court accepts the plaintiff's well-pled factual allegations as true and views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. United States v. Smith, 561 F.3d 1090, 1098 (10th Cir. 2009). The court, however, is not required to accept legal conclusions alleged in the complaint as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. “Thus, mere ‘labels and conclusions' and ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action' will not suffice” to state a claim. Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1191 (10th Cir. 2012) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). A complaint alleging that several defendants violated § 1983 must plainly allege exactly who, among the many defendants named, did what to plaintiff, with enough detail to provide each individual with fair notice as to the basis of the claims against him or her. See Robbins v. Okla. ex rel. Dep't of Human Servs., 519 F.3d 1242, 1248-1250 (10th Cir. 2008).

         III. The complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on an unspecified date, an unknown Wichita police officer stopped and detained plaintiff while he was walking up to a friend's house. The officer told plaintiff he was a robbery suspect and placed plaintiff in handcuffs. Other police cars arrived. Plaintiff was stood up in front of the police car lights and was later told that he was “pointed out” as participating in a violent robbery in which several hundred dollars and a gold chain were stolen. Plaintiff was then placed in a squad car. An unidentified officer and “the commanding officer” (also unidentified) asked plaintiff for permission to search plaintiff's car. Plaintiff refused. Then, “the officer” took plaintiff out of the squad car, removed plaintiff's car keys from plaintiff's pocket, and unlocked and searched plaintiff's car. Plaintiff alleges that over $10, 000 was removed from plaintiff's car by the officer and placed as evidence, according to the officer.

         Plaintiff claims that he was booked into jail on multiple offenses, and that all except a robbery charge have been dismissed. According to plaintiff, the robbery charge remains pending even though the alleged victim who identified plaintiff has recanted. Plaintiff alleges he has been told more recently that there was no money taken from his vehicle. Plaintiff appears to claim that his money has been lost.

         Plaintiff alleges illegal search and seizure, wrongful incarceration and deliberate indifference. He seeks damages “from each unknown Wichita police officer in No. 17-CR-894 that participated in the illegal search of [his] vehicle.” Doc. No. 1, p. 7.

         IV. Screening the complaint

         As plaintiff is bringing a § 1983 claim, he must “allege the violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and must show that the alleged deprivation was committed by a person acting under color of state law.” Bruner v. Baker, 506 F.3d 1021, 1025-26 (10th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). Plaintiff's complaint fails to state ...


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