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Jackson v. Dist. of Columbia

March 31, 2008

GREGORY JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Gregory Jackson, ("Officer Jackson"), an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department for the District of Columbia ("MPD") filed a complaint against defendants District of Columbia and MPD Captain Michael Eldridge ("Captain Eldridge") alleging false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, negligence and violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before this Court is defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Upon consideration of the motion, the response and reply thereto, the applicable law, and the entire record, the Court grants defendants' motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Although the parties may disagree on the significance of certain facts, the facts themselves are essentially undisputed. Plaintiff Gregory Jackson was an officer assigned to the MPD's Fifth District. Defendants' Statement of Material Facts to Which There is No Genuine Dispute ("Def.s' Facts") ¶ 3; Plaintiff's Statement of Material Facts in Dispute ("Pl.'s Facts") ¶ 1. On December 23, 2004, plaintiff reported to work wearing an earring, in violation of MPD regulations. Def.s' Facts ¶ 5; Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 1, 2. After roll call, plaintiff's supervisor, Lieutenant Netter ("Lt. Netter"), asked plaintiff to remove his earring, but plaintiff refused. Def.s' Facts ¶ 8; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 2.*fn1 Lt. Netter then revoked plaintiff's police powers and ordered him to turn in his police-issued uniform and equipment. Def.s' Facts ¶ 9, 13; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 1. Plaintiff went to the locker room and Lt. Netter followed. Def.s' Facts ¶ 11; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 4. Plaintiff turned in his uniform and equipment. Def.s' Facts ¶ 14; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 4.

According to plaintiff, Lt. Netter repeatedly blocked plaintiff from leaving the locker room and "placed his hand on his weapon in an aggressive posture and told the other officer that Plaintiff could [sic] and that he was not worried about the Plaintiff." Pl.'s Facts ¶ 6-7. Other officers were present in the locker room, and at some point plaintiff was instructed to go upstairs to see Captain Owens ("Cpt. Owens"). Def.s' Facts ¶ 15; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 5. Plaintiff testified that while he was waiting upstairs to see the Captain, Lt. Netter "continued to act in a threatening manner toward Plaintiff, by walking by, adjusting his weapon and grunting at Plaintiff." Pl.'s Facts ¶ 9.

Plaintiff spoke with Cpt. Owens, who asked plaintiff a series of questions about the incident. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 10. Plaintiff told Captain Owens that he felt threatened by Lt. Netter because Lt. Netter was standing in plaintiff's personal space. Def.s' Facts ¶ 16-17; see also Def.s' Mot., Ex. 2 at 15-16 (Cpt. Owens's testimony). After meeting with plaintiff, Cpt. Owens determined that the matter could not be resolved without revoking plaintiff's police powers. Id. Plaintiff was instructed to report to the Fifth District on December 26, 2004 to resolve the matter. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 13.

On the following day, December 24, 2004, however, plaintiff voluntarily reported to MPD's Police and Fire Clinic ("Clinic") to discuss the previous evening's incident. Def.s' Facts ¶ 18; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 14. At the Clinic, plaintiff completed an "Injury or Illness Report," known as a PD-42, and was initially seen by a physician, Dr. Matera. Def.s' Facts ¶ 18-19; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 15. On the PD-42, plaintiff wrote:

On 12/23/03 I was attacked by Lt. R. Netter at the Fifth District. He violated my personal space and placed his hand on his gun. He then gave me personal orders and I refused. This work related incident has caused severe mental stress and places me in a hostile working environment, that if left alone/unreported will become deadly. I feel threaten and harrassed by this along with past incident involving Lt. Netter. Lt. Netter is gay and I do not and will not share his lifestyle.

Def.s' Facts ¶ 20; Def.s' Mot., Ex. 1 (attachment). See also, Def.s' Reply, Ex. 5 (Dr. Matera's testimony).

Dr. Matera examined plaintiff and placed him on sick leave pending an evaluation by Behavioral Health Sciences. Def.s' Reply, Ex. 5 at 10-11. After seeing Dr. Matera, plaintiff was seen by a doctor in the Behavioral Health Sciences Division, Dr. Filson. Def.s' Facts ¶ 21; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 15, 17.

Meanwhile, Captain Michael Eldridge, the Deputy Director at the Police and Fire Clinic, was on duty at the Clinic. Def.s' Mot. Ex. (Michael Eldridge's Affidavit) ¶ 5. Cpt. Eldridge's responsibility as the Deputy Director was to serve as a liaison between the doctors and the officers at the Clinic. Id. ¶ 2. According to Cpt. Eldridge's affidavit, he had no first-hand knowledge of the events that had occurred at the Fifth District the previous day between Lt. Netter and plaintiff. Id. ¶ 3. Cpt. Eldridge reviewed plaintiff's PD-42 and plaintiff's statement on the PD-42 that, if left alone, the situation would become deadly.*fn2 Id. ¶ 5.

After being seen by Dr. Filson, plaintiff proceeded to the Clinic's checkout desk, where Cpt. Eldridge reviewed plaintiff's paperwork and told plaintiff that he was to return to the Fifth District and report to Commander Jennifer Greene to receive his duty assignment. Def.s' Facts ¶ 22; Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 18-19. Plaintiff responded that he could not return to the Fifth District because of Lt. Netter and that neither Cpt. Eldridge nor Commander Greene had the right to change his duty status. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 21. According to plaintiff, he also told Cpt. Eldridge that if Lt. Netter attacked plaintiff, plaintiff would defend himself. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 22. Cpt. Eldridge reports that during this conversation, plaintiff said words to the effect of "If [Lieutenant Netter] comes at me again, I'll kill him." Def.s' Facts ¶ 23. While plaintiff does not admit using those words and simply says that he told Cpt. Eldridge he would defend himself, plaintiff does not deny making the statement Cpt. Eldridge reports.

Cpt. Eldridge then instructed plaintiff to return upstairs so that Dr. Filson could re-evaluate plaintiff. Def.s' Facts ¶ 24; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 23. Cpt. Eldridge met with Dr. Filson and related plaintiff's statements regarding Lt. Netter, and then Dr. Filson spoke with plaintiff. Def.s' Facts ¶ 24; Pl.'s Facts ¶ 23. Dr. Filson told plaintiff that plaintiff's duty status was being changed and that plaintiff could not make threats, and that because plaintiff had made threats it would have to be reported and Lt. Netter would need to be informed. Def.s' Facts ¶ 25; Pl.'s Facts ¶¶ 24-25.

According to plaintiff, after he and Cpt. Eldridge left Dr. Filson, Cpt. Eldridge said in front of other employees, "so you are going to the Fifth District and kill Lieutenant Netter."

Pl.'s Facts ¶ 26. Plaintiff responded that he had not said that, but that he would simply defend himself if attacked again by Lt. Netter. Id. ¶ 27. Again, according to plaintiff, Cpt. Eldridge then stated that plaintiff was making another threat and plaintiff responded that he would not allow Lt. Netter "to attack him, beat him and draw his gun on him and do nothing about it." Pl.'s Facts ¶ 28. Plaintiff was released from the Clinic.

Cpt. Eldridge states that immediately following plaintiff's departure from the Clinic, he began the process of applying for a warrant for plaintiff's arrest. Def.s' Facts ¶ 27. Cpt. Eldridge prepared an affidavit regarding the alleged threats plaintiff made at the Clinic and brought the application to the United States Attorney's Office for review. Def.s' Facts ¶¶ 27-28. Assistant United States Attorney ("AUSA") John Tishner, Chief of the Grand Jury Section, reviewed the warrant. Cpt. Eldridge and AUSA Tishner then called AUSA Clifford Keenan, and both attorneys determined that the U.S. Attorney's Office should approve the warrant. Def.s' Facts ¶¶ 29-30. Cpt. Eldridge then presented the warrant to the Honorable Ronna L. Beck, and Judge Beck signed the warrant for plaintiff's arrest. Def.s' Facts ¶ 31.

According to Cpt. Eldridge, he notified Commander Greene that he had a warrant for plaintiff's arrest, and asked her to provide an official from her division to pick up the warrant and bring it to the Office of Professional Responsibility. Def.s' Facts ¶ 32.

The following day, which was Christmas Day, December 25, 2004, plaintiff received a phone call from a Lieutenant Sanders and was told to report to the Fifth District to see Commander Greene. Pl.'s Facts ¶ 31. Plaintiff left his child and the child's mother and reported to the Fifth District, where he was informed that there was a warrant for his arrest. Id. ¶¶ 31-33. Agent Murphy from the Internal Affairs Division explained that they had called plaintiff to the Fifth District because they did not want to arrest him at his home on Christmas and "drag him out of his house." Id. ¶ 34. Plaintiff was then placed under arrest for making felony threats and transported by Agent Murphy and Lieutenant McKeon to the Internal Affairs Division and then to the Central Cell Block for processing. Id. ...


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