United States District Court, District of Columbia
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case deals with events that took place at a May 2017 protest
over Turkish President Recep Erdogan's visit to the
District of Columbia. Plaintiffs were protesting President
Erdogan's policies when they allege that they were
attacked by Defendants who include the Republic of Turkey,
Turkish security forces, and civilian Defendants. As is
relevant to this Memorandum Opinion, Plaintiffs have filed
five claims against civilian Defendants Eyup Yildirim, Sinan
Narin, and Alpkenan Dereci: assault, battery, intentional
infliction of emotional distress, hate crimes under D.C. Code
§ 22-3704, and civil rights violations pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1985. Defendants have moved to dismiss each
claim, either in part of in full, for failure to state a
claim for which relief may be granted.
before the Court are Defendants E. Yildirim and Narin's
 Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint and
Defendant A. Dereci's  Partial Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs' Complaint. Upon consideration of the
pleadings,  the relevant legal authorities, and the
record as a whole, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN
PART DENIES Defendants E. Yildirim and Narin's Partial
Motion to Dismiss and Defendant A. Dereci's Partial
Motion to Dismiss. The Court concludes that Plaintiffs have
failed to state a claim for (1) conspiracy to commit battery,
(2) intentional infliction of emotion distress as to
Plaintiff Jalal Kheirabadi, and (3) violation of civil rights
under 42 U.S.C. § 1985. Accordingly, these claims are
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. However, the Court concludes
that Plaintiffs have otherwise stated claims for which relief
may be granted.
purposes of the motions before the Court, the Court accepts
as true the well-pled allegations in Plaintiffs'
Complaint. The Court does “not accept as true, however,
the plaintiff's legal conclusions or inferences that are
unsupported by the facts alleged.” Ralls Corp. v.
Comm. on Foreign Inv. in U.S., 758 F.3d 296, 315 (D.C.
are fifteen Plaintiffs bringing claims in this case against
the Republic of Turkey, Turkish security forces, and five
civilian Defendants. See generally Compl., ECF No.
1. Plaintiffs' claims arise out of a May 2017 visit by
Turkish President Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut
Cavusoglu to the District of Columbia. Id. at ¶
51. Their trip included a planned visit to the White House.
Id. Upon learning that President Erdogan would be
visiting the White House, leaders of the local Kurdish
community planned a protest and applied for and were granted
a permit to protest. Id. at ¶ 53. The Kurdish
leaders intended to protest President Erdogan's treatment
of the Kurdish ethnic minority in Turkey and other allegedly
repressive practices. Id. at ¶¶ 45-50.
President Erdogan's White House visit, Plaintiffs and
other individuals gathered in front of the White House
“to express their opposition to the repression and
abuses of the Erdogan regime.” Id. at ¶
55. Also at the White House was a group that supported
President Erdogan. But, the two groups remained separated.
Id. at ¶ 56.
his White House visit, President Erdogan planned to go to the
Turkish Ambassador's Residence. Id. at ¶
57. A group of anti-Erdogan protesters, including Plaintiffs,
also went to the Ambassador's Residence in order to
continue the protest. Id. at ¶ 58. When they
arrived, a group of pro-Erdogan civilians, Turkish security
officials, and individuals who appeared to be staff members
from the Turkish delegation were already at the Residence.
Id. at ¶ 59. Plaintiffs allege that this group
included people who had accepted the Turkish Ambassador's
invitation to come to the District of Columbia to show
support for President Erdogan. Id. Defendants E.
Yildirim, Narin, and A. Dereci were civilian members of the
pro-Erdogan group. Id.
of the pro-Erdogan group carried Turkish flags, while the
protesters carried signs pertaining to Kurdish rights.
Id. at ¶¶ 60, 62, 63. The protesters were
outnumbered by the pro-Erdogan group and gathered on the
sidewalk across from the Residence. Id. at ¶
62. Plaintiffs allege that the pro-Erdogan group yelled
threats and anti-Kurdish slurs at the protesters.
Id. at ¶ 65. However, the pro-Erdogan group and
the protesters were separated by Metropolitan Police
Department officers and United States Secret Service officers
who stood between the two groups, facing the pro-Erdogan
group. Id. at ¶ 66.
the presence of the law enforcement officers, Plaintiffs
allege that members of the pro-Erdogan group pushed past the
officers and physically attacked the protesters. The
attackers allegedly repeatedly hit, punched, and kicked the
protesters, including Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs allege that
Defendants E. Yildirim, Narin, and A. Dereci each
participated in the attack. Id. at ¶¶ 67,
68. Plaintiffs specifically allege that during the first
attack Defendant A. Dereci repeatedly punched Plaintiff
Kheirabadi. Id. at ¶ 167. Plaintiffs also
allege that Defendant E. Yildirim threatened and physically
beat Plaintiff Kheirabadi during this first attack.
Id. at ¶ 166.
to Plaintiffs, the first attack ended relatively quickly.
Id. at ¶ 69. Following the first attack, law
enforcement allegedly created a cordon to keep the
pro-Erdogan group on the sidewalk and away from the
protesters. Id. at ¶ 70. Despite this cordon,
Plaintiffs allege that the pro-Erdogan supporters continued
to attempt to bypass the officers. Id. at ¶ 71.
During this time, Plaintiffs also allege that the pro-Erdogan
group continued to yell ethnic slurs and make threats.
Id. at ¶ 72. Additionally, Plaintiffs claim
that the pro-Erdogan group played a Turkish nationalist song
over a loud speaker. Id. at ¶ 78.
the first attack, one of the Defendants allegedly told a law
enforcement officer, “we are waiting [for] you to take
them out, because President [Erdogan] is coming. If you
don't take … I will take.” Id. at
¶ 74. Plaintiffs further claim that the Turkish
Ambassador to the United States told a law enforcement
officer, “I am the ambassador. You cannot let this
… you cannot touch us.” Id. at ¶
75. And, Defendant E. Yildirim allegedly yelled at a law
enforcement officer warning of potential violence if the
protesters continued. Id. at ¶ 76. Defendant E.
Yildirim also allegedly called the protesters “dirty
bastards” and yelled “shut the fuck up,
bitch!” to a protester.
Plaintiffs further claim that Defendant Narin called on the
pro-Erdogan group to line up in the street, ignoring the
commands of law enforcement. Id. at ¶ 77.
Defendant Narin explained that he was ignoring law
enforcement's orders because “[m]y President is
coming, I don't want them to be over there.”
point during or shortly after the first attack, Plaintiffs
allege that President Erdogan arrived at the Residence.
President Erdogan remained in his car in the driveway of the
Residence. Id. at ¶ 79. Plaintiffs allege that
President Erdogan's head of security, Mushin Kose, leaned
into President Erdogan's car to confer with the
President. Id. Plaintiffs claim that President
Erdogan ordered a second attack on the protesters.
Id. at ¶ 80. According to Plaintiffs, after
speaking with President Erdogan, Mr. Kose communicated with
other Turkish security officials both in person and through
an electronic communication device. Those Turkish security
officials then hurried toward the protesters. Id.
Moments later, Plaintiffs allege that Turkish security
officials and civilian Defendants broke through the law
enforcement cordon in a “coordinated” fashion.
Id. at ¶ 81.
claim that the second attack was longer and more violent than
the first. Id. Plaintiffs allege that Turkish
security officials and civilian Defendants bypassed the law
enforcement cordon and chased, kicked, punched, and grabbed
protesters. Plaintiffs allege that the violence was
unrelenting and that the attackers surrounded and kicked
protesters who had fallen onto the ground. Id.
During the attack, Plaintiffs claim that the attackers yelled
anti-Kurdish slurs and threats. Id. at ¶ 82.
Plaintiffs further claim that United States law enforcement
officers attempted to stop the attack, but the attackers
would not listen. Id. at ¶ 86.
Plaintiffs allege that during the second attack Defendants E.
Yildirim and Narin attacked Plaintiff Elif Genc by repeatedly
kicking her and threatening her. Id. at ¶ 160.
further assert that Defendant E. Yildirim kicked Plaintiff
Murat Yasa in his body and threatened Plaintiff Yasa by
telling him that he would make life miserable for the Kurds.
Id. at ¶¶ 188, 191.
law enforcement officers were able to stop the attack.
Following the attack Plaintiffs claim that Defendants tore up
and threw the protesters' signs. Id. at ¶
89. Plaintiffs contend that Defendant E. Yildirim stomped on
one of the protester's flags. Id.
days after the attack, multiple members of the United States
government condemned the attacks. Id. at
¶¶ 196-207. In June 2017, the United States
Attorney's Office charged Defendant Narin with aggravated
assault and assault and Defendant E. Yildirim with aggravated
assault and assault with significant bodily injury, all
committed based on the actual or perceived race or ethnicity
of the victims. Id. at ¶ 208. Defendants E.
Yildirim and Narin later pled guilty to assault with
significant bodily injury, and Defendant E. Yildirim pled
guilty to assaulting Plaintiff Yasa. Id. at ¶
212. In August 2017, a District of Columbia grand jury
indicted 19 individuals for their role in the attacks. These
individuals included fifteen Turkish security officials and
four civilians. Id. at ¶ 209. It is not clear
from the Complaint whether or not Defendants E. Yildirim,
Narin, and A. Dereci were included among those civilians
indicted. However, if they were ever indicted, the charges
against them were later dropped. Id. at ¶ 211.
11, 2018, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit, bringing seven
claims in total, but only five of which are against the
civilian Defendants. See generally Id. On July 16,
2018, Defendants E. Yildirim and Narin filed a joint partial
motion to dismiss. And, on August 24, 2018, Defendant A.
Dereci also filed a partial motion to dismiss. The majority
of the arguments in Defendants' motions to dismiss are
the same. Accordingly, the Court will address both motions in
this Memorandum Opinion. The discussion in this Memorandum
Opinion pertains to only Defendants E. Yildirim, Narin, and
A. Dereci as they are the only Defendants who have filed
motions to dismiss.
E. Yildirim, Narin, and A. Dereci move to dismiss at least
partially each of Plaintiffs' claims against them under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6), a party may move to dismiss a complaint on the
grounds that it “fail[s] to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint
contain “‘a short and plain statement of the
claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in
order to ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the
... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555,
(2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47
(1957)). “[A] complaint [does not] suffice if it
tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'” Ashcroft
v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). Rather, a complaint must
contain sufficient factual allegations that, if true,
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In
evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to
state a claim, a court must construe the complaint in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff and accept as true all
reasonable factual inferences drawn from well-pled factual
allegations. See In re United Mine Workers of Am. Emp.
Benefit Plans Litig., 854 F.Supp. 914, 915 (D.D.C.
bring five claims against Defendants E. Yildirim, Narin, and
A. Dereci. In Count one, each Plaintiff alleges assault
against each Defendant. Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶¶
Count 2, thirteen Plaintiffs allege battery against each
Defendant. Id. at ¶¶ 235-40. In Count 4,
twelve Plaintiffs bring intentional infliction of emotional
distress claims against each Defendant. Id. at
¶¶ 245-50. In Count 5, each Plaintiff brings a hate
crime claim against each Defendant under D.C. Code §
22-3704. Id. at ¶¶ 251-57. Finally, in
Count 7, each Plaintiff brings a civil rights violation claim
against all civilian Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1985.
Id. at ¶¶ 272-76. Defendants move to
dismiss, at least in part, each of the claims against them.
Court concludes that Plaintiffs have sufficiently stated a
claim against Defendants for all claims except: (1) each
Plaintiff failed to state a claim for conspiracy to commit
battery against Defendants, (2) Plaintiff Kheirabadi failed
to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional
distress against Defendants, and (3) each Plaintiff failed to
state a claim for a civil rights violation against
Defendants. Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES WITHOUT
PREJUDICE these claims against Defendants E. Yildirim, Narin,
and A. Dereci. The Court again notes that this Memorandum
Opinion applies only to Defendants E. Yildirim, Narin, and A.
Dereci as those are the only Defendants who have filed
Motions to Dismiss.
Count 1- Assault
Count 1 of their Complaint, all Plaintiffs allege assault
against each Defendant. Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶¶
228-34. Defendant E. Yildirim concedes that Plaintiffs Genc
and Yasa have stated assault claims against him. Defs.
Yildirim and Narin's Mot., ECF No. 21, 20 n.9. Defendant
Narin concedes that Plaintiff Genc has stated an assault
claim against him. Id. And, Defendant A. Dereci
concedes that Plaintiff Kheirabadi has stated an assault
claim against him. Def. Dereci's Mot., ECF No. 32, 17
n.9. But, Defendants request that the Court dismiss all other
assault allegations for failure to state a claim.
assault is “‘an intentional and unlawful attempt
or threat, either by words or acts, to do physical harm to
the victim.'” Hall v. District of
Columbia, 867 F.3d 138, 158 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (quoting
Evans-Reid v. District of Columbia, 930 A.2d 930,
937 (D.C. 2007)). In order to state a claim for assault,
“a plaintiff must show that he suffered apprehension of
harmful or offensive contact and that a reasonable person in
his position would have experienced such apprehension.”
Collier v. District of Columbia, 46 F.Supp.3d 6, 14
argue that all claims of assault, other than those mentioned
above, should be dismissed because Plaintiffs have failed to
specifically allege that Defendants threatened to make or
made physical contact with Plaintiffs. Accordingly,
Defendants contend that they did not put Plaintiffs in
apprehension of harmful or offensive contact. Defendants
explain that Plaintiffs are unlawfully attempting to hold
them liable for assault based on their mere presence at the
crime scene. The Court disagrees.
their Complaint, Plaintiffs allege that, during the first
attack, “members of the pro-Erdogan group pushed past
the police and physically attacked the Protesters. Turkish
security officials and civilians repeatedly hit, punched, and
kicked protesters, including Plaintiffs.” Compl., ECF
No. 1, ¶ 67. Plaintiffs further allege that “all
five individual Defendants in this action participated in the
first attack.” Id. at ¶ 68. During the
second attack, Plaintiffs explain that “[m]ultiple
Turkish security officials and civilian Defendants beat and
attacked protesters, who were outnumbered by the attackers.
… [T]he attackers surrounded and kicked the
protesters, including older men and young women, who had
fallen and were defenseless on the ground.”
Id. at ¶ 81.
addition to the two separate attacks in which Plaintiffs
allege that each of the three Defendants participated,
Plaintiffs also make specific allegations against each
Defendant. For example, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant E.
Yildirim yelled at an officer, warning him of violence if
Plaintiffs continued their protest and that Defendant E.
Yildirim physically attacked at least three Plaintiffs during
the first and second attacks. Id. at ¶¶
76, 160, 166, 171, 188, 191. Plaintiffs further allege that
Defendant Narin attempted to organize the Pro-Erdogan group
to line up in the street because he did not want the
protesters present when President Erdogan arrived and that
Defendant Narin physically attacked at least one Plaintiff
during the second attack. Id. at ¶¶ 77,
160. And, Plaintiffs allege that Defendant A. Dereci
repeatedly punched at least one Plaintiff during the first
attack. Id. at ¶ 167.
Court concludes that Plaintiffs have alleged that each
Defendant threatened to make or made physical contact with
each of the Plaintiffs. According to Plaintiffs'
Complaint, the three Defendants attacked Plaintiffs at least
twice, placing each Plaintiff in reasonable apprehension of
harmful or offensive contact. An assault does not require
actual physical contact, so it is irrelevant that each
Defendant did not actually touch each Plaintiff. What matters
is that Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that each
Defendant took an intentional action which placed each
Plaintiff in reasonable apprehension of harmful or offensive
contact by Defendants.
point out that the majority of Plaintiffs' allegations on
assault relate to all five civilian Defendants, referring to
them as “civilian Defendants, ” or to all
Defendants generally. Despite this group naming, the Court
concludes that Plaintiffs sufficiently alleged that
Defendants E. Yildirim, Narin, and A. Dereci intentionally
participated in the attacks. Accordingly, referring, at
times, to Defendants as a group does not prevent Plaintiffs
from making a claim of assault.
cite no case establishing that Plaintiffs' allegations
are insufficient to state a claim for assault at the motion
to dismiss stage. Defendants cite Hunter v. District of
Columbia, 824 F.Supp.2d 125 (D.D.C. 2011), Chen v.
District of Columbia, 808 F.Supp.2d 252 (D.D.C. 2011),
and Garabis v. Unknown Officers of the Metropolitan
Police, 961 F.Supp.2d 91, (D.D.C. 2013). But, each of
these cases involved a motion for summary judgment which was
granted because the plaintiffs failed to present evidence
demonstrating that the defendants touched or threatened to
touch them. Hunter, 824 F.Supp.2d at 138-39;
Chen, 808 F.Supp.2d at 258-59; Garabis, 961
F.Supp.2d at 100-103. Those cases are not persuasive to the
Court's analysis as this case is only at the motion to
dismiss stage. It is possible that each Plaintiff will not be
able to produce evidence showing that they were assaulted by
each Defendant. But, the absence or presence of such evidence
is not the issue currently before the Court. What matters at
this stage is whether or not Plaintiffs have alleged that
they were assaulted by Defendants. And, the Court concludes
that they have done so.
also cite cases requiring Plaintiffs to establish that the
Defendants' actions were intentional. In considering
these cases, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have alleged
Collier, the court dismissed the plaintiff's
assault claim because the plaintiff had not alleged that the
defendant “intentionally threatened him or attempted to
cause him harm.” 46 F.Supp.3d at 14. Instead, the
plaintiff alleged only that the defendant was the proximate
cause of his battery by another individual. Id. The
court explained that, even if the defendant had proximately
caused the plaintiff's harm through his ...