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Turner v. Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

December 14, 2007

MICHAEL L. TURNER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING CENTER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

When a person is employed as a United States Park Police Officer, he must complete a training program conducted by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center ("FLETC") in Glynco, Georgia. In this action, plaintiff Michael Turner ("Turner"), who is Black, alleges that his removal from the FLETC training program after his involvement in a physical altercation with three White recruits was motivated by racial animus in violation of federal civil rights laws, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981.*fn1 First Amd. Compl. at 4 (Count I). Turner also asserts causes of action for Wrongful Discharge (Count II), Negligent Accounting (Count III), and Disparate Treatment (Count IV). Id. at 5-6. Before the court is defendants' motion to dismiss and for summary judgment ("Defs.' Mot.") [Dkt. #34]. The only claims to warrant extended discussion are those alleging that Turner's removal from FLETC training was motivated by racial animus in violation Title VII and the 42 U.S.C. § 1981.*fn2 Having considered the motion, Turner's opposition thereto, and the record of this case, the court concludes that defendants are entitled to summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

The United States Park Police ("USPP") hired Turner as a police officer recruit in October 2001. After completing a week-long orientation, he began the FLETC training program in Glynco, Georgia as a member of class USPPI-202. According to Turner, he had finished a substantial portion of the program when injuries to his right wrist and fingers sustained during a training exercise prevented him from completing training program. He then returned to Washington, D.C. and worked in the USPP's property office and in its training branch. Turner returned to FLETC in July 2003 as a member of class USPPI-304. During the class orientation he met his classmates, among whom were Sean D'Augostine, Louis Facciponti, and Erick May.

On November 8, 2003, at approximately 11:30 p.m., there was a physical altercation involving Turner, D'Augostine, Facciponti and May in D'Augostine's dormitory room. Certain facts about the altercation are not in dispute. D'Augostine was sitting on his bed, Facciponti was sitting in a chair, and May was standing in the open doorway to D'Augostine's room when Turner came to the room to discuss comments that had been made to him earlier in the evening at a bar by Brenda Jordan, a woman with whom Turner was acquainted and who lived in the dormitory.*fn3

Ms. Jordan "confronted [Turner] about Officer Facciponti and Officer D'Augostine" and their warnings to her to "stay away" from him because "he's no good." Turner Dep. 89:4-8. Turner testified as follows:

Q: [Defendants' counsel] Okay. And she told you that Louie Facciponti told her to stay away from you?

A: [Turner] That's correct.

Q: All right. And what else did she tell you?

A: Basically he slandered my name, that I was no good, no one liked me in Washington, D.C., all to that effect.

Q: Okay. Well, let's be very clear about what she told you. She said that [Facciponti] said that she should stay away from you. She said [Facciponti] told her that she should stay away from you. She said [Facciponti] told her no one liked you in D.C. What else did she tell you?

A: Basically, stay away from me, no one liked me in Washington, that I was no good. That's basically all I can remember.

Id. 91:6-21. He further testified:

Q: [Defendants' counsel] What did you say to her after she told you what Louie Facciponti had said about you?

A: [Turner] I stated that that wasn't true and I don't know why he would say anything like that to her. And she didn't know why either, because she -- you know, she basically said, I don't really know you, it's not like we're dating or going out with each other I don't -- I guess she got the picture that he thought that we were or were in the midst of a casual relationship, but it never trans-never came to pass.

Id. 96:5-15. In addition, Turner stated:

Q: [Defendants' counsel] What else did you say to her?

A: [Turner] Basically, she told me to watch my back and to be careful because evidently these people weren't for me, they were basically against me.

Q: Well, what do you mean, these people? She only talked about -- let me finish my question. What do you mean these people? She only talked to you about one person.

A: Right. But I guess she was thinking [D'Augostine] was with [Facciponti] in on it. They were together. I'm not sure.

Id. 98:1-12. Shocked, upset, and disappointed, see id. at 100:18-20; 101:11, Turner went to D'Augostine's room to discuss what Ms. Jordan had said to him.

According to Turner, subsequent events unfolded as follows:

Q: [Defendants' counsel] Okay, so a woman has just told you that she's been told, nobody likes you, by Louie Facciponti, and that you should watch you back, and your testimony is that you went in and just very calmly started asking [D'Augostine] about this conversation.

A: [Turner] Yes, I did.

Q: Okay. And what was the first thing you ...


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