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Larry D. Rice, Jr v. District of Columbia

February 24, 2011

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

Police officers John Stathers and Derek Starliper entered an abandoned 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. Mr. Rice was arrested and charged, but later the charges were dismissed by the prosecutor. As a result, Mr. Rice filed suit asserting constitutional violations, including the claim of arrest without probable cause, and tort claims including claims of false arrest. On the eve of trial, Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment with regard to the false arrest claims. Mr. Rice opposes. As explained below, the motion 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, the officers arrested Mr. Rice.

Detective Ali Roberts signed a criminal complaint against Mr. Rice on May 2, 2008, charging Mr. Rice with a violation of D.C. Code § 22-851(b) (intimidating, impeding, interfering with and retaliating against a government official engaged in the performance of his duties).*fn1 See

Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss [Dkt. # 35], Ex. A. at 1. On January 21, 2009, the Superior Court dismissed the felony charge at the request of the prosecutor. See id., Ex. B (Dismissal Praecipe).

As a result of the gunshot wound, Mr. Rice sustained severe injuries including a lacerated liver and diaphragm. He underwent emergency surgery and remained in the hospital for more than one month. He developed pneumonia while in the hospital.

As a result of the foregoing, Mr. Rice filed this suit against the District of Columbia,

Officer Stathers, and Officer Starliper. The Amended Complaint includes three counts alleging false arrest:

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

Count VII -- False Arrest (against Officer Starliper); and Count VIII -- False Arrest (against the District of Columbia).

Am. Compl. [Dkt. # 29]. The Amended Complaint also alleges that the Officers violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by arresting Mr. Rice without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment. See id., Counts XIX & XX. Defendants seek summary judgment on these claims.*fn2

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment shall be granted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); accord Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). Moreover, summary judgment is properly granted against a party who "after adequate time for discovery and upon motion . . . fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to ...


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