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Rice v. District of Columbia

June 17, 2009

LARRY D. RICE, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

On April 23, 2008, police officers John Stathers and Derek Starliper entered a house in Northeast Washington, D.C. with their guns drawn and told everyone to "freeze." When Plaintiff Larry Rice heard "freeze," he was in a back room and he attempted to flee out the window. Officer Stathers entered the back room and stopped Mr. Rice from leaving. A struggle ensued, and Officer Stathers shot Mr. Rice. A criminal complaint was lodged against Mr. Rice, charging him with interfering with a government official. The felony charge was later dismissed at the request of the prosecutor. As a result, Mr. Rice filed a Complaint against police officers and the District of Columbia asserting violations of the U.S. Constitution (via 42 U.S.C. § 1983) and numerous torts. The claims all essentially allege excessive use of force and malicious prosecution. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the negligence counts and the malicious prosecution counts of the Complaint. Mr. Rice opposes. As explained below, the motion for partial dismissal will be granted.

I. FACTS

Mr. Rice alleges that on April 23, 2008, he was in the back room of a house located at 5827 Fields Place, NE, Washington, D.C. He heard a police officer say "freeze" to Joseph Maxwell who was in the front room of the house. At that time, Mr. Rice opened the window in the back room and began climbing out. When he had managed to get his head and one leg out of the window, Officer Stathers entered the back room with his gun drawn. With his gun in one hand, Officer Stathers grabbed Mr. Rice's leg with his other hand. Officer Stathers shot Mr. Rice in the abdomen. Subsequently, Officer Stathers lowered Mr. Rice out of the window and onto the ground. Then Officer Stathers and Officer Starliper began hitting Mr. Rice in the head and screaming at him to provide his name. The Officers then dragged Mr. Rice to the front of the house where Mr. Rice waited thirty minutes for an ambulance to arrive. Mr. Rice was placed under arrest.*fn1

Detective Roberts signed a criminal complaint against Mr. Rice on May 2, 2008, charging Mr. Rice with a violation of 22 D.C. Code § 851(b) (intimidating, impeding, interfering with and retaliating against a government official). See Defs.' Reply, Ex. A. On January 21, 2009, the felony charge was dismissed on request of the prosecutor. The Complaint sets forth twenty-two counts as follows:

Count I -- Battery (against Officer Stathers);

Count II -- Battery (against Officer Starliper);

Count III -- Battery (against the District of Columbia);

Count IV -- Negligence (against the District of Columbia);

Count V -- Gross Negligence (against Officer Stathers);

Count VI -- False Arrest (against Officer Stathers);

Count VII -- False Arrest (against Officer Starliper);

Count VIII -- False Arrest (against the District ...


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