United States District Court, District of Columbia
JOSE T. VASQUEZ, Plaintiff,
COUNTY OF WILL, ILLINOIS, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
P. Mehta United States District Judge.
case arises from the arrest and detention of Plaintiff Jose
T. Vasquez by the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police
Department based on mistaken identity. Authorities in Will
County, Illinois erroneously entered Plaintiff's
information into an arrest warrant database accessible
nationwide. Based on this wrongful entry, the Metropolitan
Police Department arrested and detained Plaintiff in October
2016, and detained him again in March 2017. Plaintiff filed
suit alleging various tort claims under District of Columbia
law and a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
the court is Defendant District of Columbia's motion
seeking to dismiss all claims. After careful consideration of
the arguments by both parties and the applicable legal
standards, the court grants the District of Columbia's
Motion to Dismiss.
Facts Alleged in the Complaint
First Amended Complaint (“Complaint”) alleges the
following facts. In 1996, the Circuit Court in Will County,
Illinois, issued an arrest warrant seeking the apprehension
of a “Jose Vasquez” for a murder that occurred in
Will County in 1979. First Am. Compl., ECF. No. 28
[hereinafter Am. Compl.], ¶ 25. Plaintiff, whose name is
also Jose Vasquez, was not the person wanted by Will County
authorities. Id. ¶ 1. In 2016, Will County
updated the warrant information in the national database for
the suspect “Jose Vasquez, ” but erroneously
inputted Plaintiff's physical descriptors and Social
Security Number. Id. ¶ 38. The inaccurate
warrant information was available to law enforcement
nationwide through the National Crime Information Center
database (“NCIC”). Id. ¶ 39.
first faced arrest on the erroneous warrant by District of
Columbia authorities in the fall of 2016. On October 23,
2016, a Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”)
officer stopped Plaintiff for a traffic violation.
Id. ¶ 40. During the stop, the officer
discovered the warrant for “Jose Vasquez” in
NCIC, and an MPD dispatcher confirmed with Will County that
it wanted Plaintiff for extradition. Id. The
following day, an officer in the MPD Fugitive Unit prepared
an affidavit in support of an arrest warrant, stating that he
had verified that the warrant remained active and that Will
County would extradite Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 41.
Despite Plaintiff's continuous protests, id.
¶ 44, “the District of Columbia” commenced a
fugitive criminal action, pursuant to which the Superior
Court for the District of Columbia (“D.C. Superior
Court”) issued a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest and
presentment, id. ¶ 43.
a bond hearing on November 2, 2016, after Plaintiff had been
detained for 10 days, a D.C. Superior Court judge asked an
Assistant United States Attorney to obtain a photograph of
the Illinois suspect to determine whether Plaintiff was being
held based on mistaken identity. Id. ¶ 46.
Within a day, the Assistant United States Attorney confirmed
that Plaintiff was not the subject of the Will County
warrant, and the D.C. Superior Court granted the
prosecution's Motion to Dismiss. Id.
¶¶ 47-49. After the court dismissed Plaintiff's
case, neither Illinois nor District of Columbia authorities
took any action to prevent a future wrongful arrest.
Id. ¶¶ 51-52.
erroneous arrest warrant would ensnare Plaintiff once more
the following spring. On March 3, 2017, a United States
Secret Service Officer stopped Plaintiff in the District of
Columbia for a traffic violation and saw an outstanding
warrant in NCIC. Id. ¶ 55. Like the MPD
dispatcher in 2016, the Secret Service Joint Operations
Center confirmed the warrant with Will County authorities,
and the officer arrested Plaintiff. Id. Eventually,
Plaintiff was taken to the Second District of MPD.
Id. ¶ 57. Once there, an MPD officer again
swore out a warrant affidavit based on the flawed NCIC
information, and the “District of Columbia” for a
second time commenced a fugitive proceeding in D.C. Superior
Court. Id. ¶ 58.
next day, March 4, 2017, Plaintiff appeared in D.C. Superior
Court, whereupon his counsel informed the court about the
proceedings in 2016. Id. ¶ 60. The
“District of Columbia” then dismissed the
March 14, 2017, Will County finally corrected the NCIC
database, by deleting the 2016 NCIC entry and instructing
that Plaintiff not be detained. Id. ¶ 63.
filed this action on October 23, 2017. See Compl.,
ECF No. 1. On April 23, 2018, Plaintiff amended his
complaint. See Notice of Filing, ECF No. 28. Upon
motion by Plaintiff, the court then severed and transferred
all claims involving Illinois-based defendants to the
Northern District of Illinois. See ...