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Buruca v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 6, 2012

Maria BURUCA, proceeding individually: and on behalf of Salvador Buruca's estate, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA et al., Defendants.

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Marvin Liss, Marvin Liss, P.C., Washington, DC, Robert M. Somer, Hilton & Somer, LLC, Fairfax, VA, for Plaintiff.

Wayne C. Beyer, Office of Attorney General, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This case stems from a shootout between officers employed by the Metropolitan Police Department and Salvador Buruca, who was killed in the melee. His next of kin brought suit, alleging that the officers used excessive force. Now before the court is the District of Columbia's motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. In support of its motion, the District has put forward a good deal of evidence, including testimony from one of the officers who was involved in the incident, audio recordings of contemporaneous witnesses, and expert testimony. In response, the plaintiff submitted one single affidavit, which largely consists of inadmissible hearsay and statements made without personal knowledge. Because no reasonable jury could find in the plaintiff's favor, the court will grant the District's motion.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

At approximately 3:46 a.m. on August 27, 2009, several individuals called 911 to report that a man was firing gunshots near a Shell gas station in Northeast Washington, D.C. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1. One caller stated that the individual— later identified as Salvador Buruca— had fired shots into the air; another reported that Buruca had approached several cars and pointed his gun at the drivers. Id., Exs. 2-3. A Metropolitan Police Department (" MPD" ) officer, Curt Bonney, was only a few blocks away when he received the radio dispatch call. Id., Ex. 5 at 45. When

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Officer Bonney arrived on the scene, he exited his cruiser and saw Buruca holding a gun. Id. at 52. Bonney ordered Buruca to drop the weapon, but Buruca instead raised his pistol and pointed it at the officer. Bonney fired several shots at Buruca, who died from the wounds. Id. at 58-59. Later tests confirmed that Buruca's firearm, a .22 caliber Gerstenberger & Eberwein revolver, had been fired four times. Id., Ex. 9. A toxicology report also revealed traces of PCP in Buruca's bloodstream. Id., Ex. 13.

Salvador Buruca's sister, Maria Buruca, filed suit individually and on behalf of her brother's estate. Her complaint names the District of Columbia, the MPD, and several unknown " John Doe" MPD officers as defendants. The complaint includes the following claims: Count I (42 U.S.C. § 1983 against John Doe police officers); Count II (42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the District of Columbia); Count III (assault, battery, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress (" IIED" )); Count IV (wrongful death under D.C.CODE § 16-2701); and Count V (Survival Act, D.C. CODE § 12-101). The District now moves for summary judgment or dismissal on all counts.

III. ANALYSIS

A. The Court Will Dismiss All Claims Brought Against the Metropolitan Police Department or the " John Doe" Officers

The District argues that Metropolitan Police Department is non sui juris and cannot be sued. See Hunt v. District of Columbia, 2002 WL 1997987, at *1 (D.C.Cir. Aug. 29, 2002) (per curiam); Heenan v. Leo,525 F.Supp.2d 110, 112 (D.D.C.2007). Second, the District asks the court to dismiss any claims brought against the " John Doe" defendants, because claims against fictitious defendants must be dismissed after the close of discovery. See Simmons v. District of Columbia, 750 F.Supp.2d 43, 45 (D.D.C.2011) (requiring the plaintiff to replace " John Doe" defendants with real defendants ...


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