United States District Court, District of Columbia
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge
a bus company ticket agent, alleges that the District of
Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”)
violated her rights in various different ways during four
separate encounters between December 2015 and April 2016.
Pending before the Court is Defendant District of
Columbia's  Motion for Partial Dismissal, or in the
Alternative Partial Summary Judgment. Upon consideration of
the pleadings,  the relevant legal authorities, and the
record as a whole, the Court will GRANT-IN-PART and
DENY-IN-PART Defendant's motion. The Court will dismiss
Plaintiff's claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the
District of Columbia, as well as Plaintiff's negligence
and malicious prosecution claims. However, the Court will not
dismiss Plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional
distress or negligent training and supervision claim.
works as a ticket agent for a bus company called Focus Travel
Agency in Washington, D.C. See Pl.'s Am. Compl.
for 1983 Civil Rights Violation, Conspiracies to Violate
Civil Rights, False Arrests and Personal Injuries, ECF No. 16
(“Am. Compl.”), ¶ 30. She works the night
shift, and her duties include selling tickets and checking
the tickets of passengers. Id. ¶¶ 18, 30.
She is of Chinese decent and “can barely speak English,
although she understands some.” Id. ¶ 8.
Amended Complaint contains allegations regarding four
different encounters with the MPD that took place between
December 2015 and April 2016. Plaintiff states that she
“has experienced all the four unfortunate incidents
within six-months, ” including “two arrests
within such a short period of time, ” and that she is
accordingly “extremely anxious whenever she sees an MPD
officer.” Id. ¶ 118. She “believes
that she did not have any right[s] in this country and [is]
afraid to be arrested again, ” and feels
“threatened by the D.C. MPD all the time.”
Id. Plaintiff alleges that “[a]t no time did
[she] commit any offense in violation of the laws of”
the District of Columbia or the United States, and that
accordingly all of the arrests, detentions and uses of force
described below were without legal cause. Id.
¶¶ 122-24. Plaintiff claims that all Defendants
acted willfully, recklessly, and with disregard to
Plaintiff's rights, and that “[t]he actions and
conduct of the defendant officers and D.C. MPD are the result
of a policy, practice, custom and deliberate indifference on
the part of Defendant Washington, D.C. and individual
officers and D.C. M.P.D.” Id. ¶ 13.
The December 2015 Incident
to the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that in
mid-December 2015 she got into a dispute with a customer who
“cussed Plaintiff out.” Id. ¶¶
63-65. Plaintiff refused to sell the customer a ticket, but
he nonetheless continued to attempt to board a bus.
Id. The would-be passenger called the police.
Id. ¶ 66.
alleges that two officers interviewed the individual who had
called them and then ordered Plaintiff to sell him a bus
ticket. Id. ¶ 67. Plaintiff refused.
Id. ¶ 68. Plaintiff demanded a Chinese police
officer be present, and eventually a female Chinese officer
was called to the scene. Id. ¶ 72. She
instructed Plaintiff that Plaintiff had to show the police
officers the video tape of what had occurred, or the bus
would not be allowed to leave. Id. ¶ 73.
Plaintiff did so, and the officers agreed that she had done
nothing wrong. Id. ¶¶ 74-75. In the
meantime, however, the bus was delayed leaving for almost two
hours. Id. ¶ 76.
filed a complaint with the D.C. police department, but was
given “a whole array of lame excuses” from a
supervisor, including that the officers involved were junior
traffic officers, were not familiar with proper procedure,
and “did not know anything about Chinatown.”
Id. ¶¶ 77-78. The supervisor promised to
provide a patrol in the area, but that patrol allegedly only
lasted for two weeks. Id. ¶¶ 78-79.
The February 15, 2016 Arrest
February 15, 2016, Plaintiff alleges that a drunk woman
boarded a bus without paying. Id. ¶ 31.
Plaintiff asked the woman to leave. Id. The woman
initially left, but then continued to attempt to sneak onto
the bus multiple times. Id. ¶ 32. Eventually,
defeated, the apparently drunken woman sat on the steps of a
nearby building and “curs[ed] Plaintiff
continuously.” Id. Plaintiff then took the
woman's photograph with a cell phone “for the
company's records[s].” Id. ¶ 33. The
woman, not pleased at having been photographed, chased and
assaulted Plaintiff. Id. ¶¶ 34-35. Both
women called the police. Id. ¶ 36.
alleges that when the “D.C. MPD finally sent some
officer, ” he was a “white male” and
“could not communicate with Plaintiff.”
Id. ¶ 37. Other officers quickly arrived on the
scene. Id. ¶ 38. One, “a African American
male officer (Officer X), ” grabbed Plaintiff's
hand as she was trying to make another 911 call. Id.
¶ 39. Officer X and another male officer (Officer Y)
then pushed Plaintiff against a wall and then down onto the
floor. Id. ¶ 40. One of the officers (Officer
Z) stepped on Plaintiff's back and two others (Officers X
and Y) twisted Plaintiff's arms “in the
back.” Id. The officers then picked Plaintiff
up off the ground and “forced Plaintiff to sit on the
chairs in the waiting room, still with hand-cuffed behind her
back.” Id. ¶ 41. Plaintiff alleges that
during this time-approximately 15-20 minutes-there was no MPD
officer who spoke Chinese, and no one asked her if she spoke
English. Id. ¶¶ 42, 48. An interpreter was
provided after 15 or 20 minutes. Id. ¶ 48.
alleges she was upset and experienced pain. Id.
¶ 43. Plaintiff also alleges her constitutional rights
were violated when one officer placed his card into her
jacket pocket, briefly took it back out and then put it back
in. Id. ¶ 45. Plaintiff claims that
“officers X, Y and Z[ ] conducted unlawful arresting,
maliciously prosecuting and using excessive and unreasonable
force, ” and that “[t]he actions and conduct of
the Defendant officers are the result of a policy, practice,
custom, and deliberate indifference on the part of Defendant
MPD of D.C.” Id. ¶ 46.
a “higher-ranking officer/sergeant” (Sergeant A)
arrived, reviewed video of the incident and “confirmed
that Plaintiff was not the aggressor.” Id.
¶¶ 49-50. As a result, Plaintiff's handcuffs
were removed. Id. ¶ 50. However, after
Plaintiff “took paper and pen to take police officer
badge numbers, ” the officers placed her back in
handcuffs, falsely claiming that she was
“assaulting” the officers. Id.
¶¶ 51-53. Plaintiff was subsequently arrested and
charged with three counts of assaulting a police officer.
Id. ¶ 54. Plaintiff claims this charge is
“false[ ] and malicious[ ].” Id. ¶
119. At the police station, Plaintiff was searched and then
locked up without the assistance of a Chinese interpreter.
Id. ¶ 55. A Chinese translating officer later
helped Plaintiff write a statement of the events.
Id. ¶ 56.
police officers then sent Plaintiff to a hospital to have her
injuries checked. Id. ¶ 57. Plaintiff alleges
that she was sent with two “white male officers,
” (Officers B and C) who were present while a doctor or
nurse examined her. Id. ¶¶ 57-58. No
female officers were present. Id. ¶ 2.
Plaintiff was embarrassed and humiliated by this event,
because she had never before been unrobed in front of a man
other than her husband. Id. ¶ 58. Plaintiff
complains that she was never informed what hospital she had
been taken to and did not receive any paperwork from the
hospital. Id. ¶ 2. Plaintiff then spent the
night in jail. Id. ¶ 61. The next morning,
February 16, 2016, Plaintiff went to the Superior Court of
the District of Columbia, where she was “finally
released because of ‘No Paper.'” Id.
¶¶ 61-62. In sum, Plaintiff was detained for almost
19 hours. Id. ¶ 62.
The April 6, 2016 Incident
April 6, 2016, two “would-be robbers” came into
the bus company's basement office and ordered Plaintiff
to open the door to the booth where she was stationed.
Id. ¶ 80. Plaintiff was frightened but refused
to open the door. Id. ¶ 82. She shouted
“911 coming, ” which caused the individuals to
flee the scene. Id. ¶ 83. Plaintiff did not
call the police during this incident. Id. ¶ 84.
did however call the police-via the “D.C. M.P.D. Asian
Liaison office”-after the individuals left.
Id. ¶ 85. The police came, but did not review
the videotape of the incident, and simply asked Plaintiff
“What do you want us to do?” Id. ¶
86. The officers told Plaintiff that “they could do
nothing other than issue citations.” Id.
Plaintiff alleges that, in stark contrast to how she was
treated “like a real criminal” during the
February 15, 2016 incident, the police did not show any real
effort to pursue these suspects. Id. She also
alleges that the “MPD did not pay attention to her
report as a form of retaliation and reprisal.”
Id. More generally, Plaintiff alleges that the MPD
does not patrol the area around her business from midnight to
4:00 a.m., takes too long to respond to Plaintiff's
calls, and that Plaintiff has to rely on English-speaking
intermediaries to get the police's attention.
Id. ¶¶ 87-88.
The April 12, 2016 Incident
April 12, 2016, Plaintiff refused to allow a customer to
board a bus with an expired ticket. Id. ¶¶
89-91. The customer “dashed up to the bus”
regardless. Id. ¶ 91. He eventually left the
bus voluntarily, but said he would call the police.
Plaintiff returned to her office later that day, a police
officer, (Officer E) was waiting and told Plaintiff she
needed to come with him to submit a report. Id.
¶¶ 93-94. Officer E ignored Plaintiff's request
for a Chinese translator and did not ask her if she spoke
English. Id. ¶¶ 95-96. He also refused to
view the bus company's close-circuit video, and refused
to listen to a tenant from above the bus company office who
offered to act as an interpreter. Id. ¶¶
97-98. Plaintiff, feeling “under the pressure, ”
agreed to go to the police station with the officer and his
female partner (Officer F). Id. ¶¶ 100-01.
When she was leaving the office waiting area with the
officer, however, he allegedly handcuffed Plaintiff without
giving any explanation or reading Plaintiff Miranda