United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION [DKT. # 29, 31]
RICHARD J. LEON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Williams brings various common law and federal claims arising
from her allegedly unlawful arrest and prosecution after an
incident at a nightclub in the District of Columbia.
See Compl. 5-12 [Dkt. # 1-2]. She seeks to hold
Officer Maynor Gonzalez ("Officer Gonzalez") and
the District of Columbia ("the District")
(collectively, "the District defendants") liable
for Officer Gonzalez's actions during and after
Williams' arrest. Williams also seeks to hold Park Place,
Inc. ("Park Place") and its owner, Marc Barnes
("Barnes") (collectively, "the Park Place
defendants") liable for Officer Gonzalez's conduct
as well as Barnes' role in her alleged false arrest and
before me are the District defendants' and the Park Place
defendants' motions for summary judgment. See
Park Place Mot. for Summ. J. ("Park Place Mot.");
District Mot. for Summ. J. ("District Mot.") [Dkt.
# 29, 31]. Upon consideration of the briefing, the relevant
law, and the entire record, and for the reasons stated below,
the Park Place defendants' motion for summary judgment is
GRANTED in part and DENIED
in part, and the District of Columbia defendants' motion
for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
events giving rise to these claims took place on August 8,
2015, when Williams went to the Park, a restaurant and
nightclub in the District of Columbia. Pl.'s Resp. to
District Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts
("Pl.'s District SOF") ¶ 2 [Dkt. # 36].
Williams and her friend, Kelly Heath, were standing on the
third floor near the elevator, while Park Place employees
were attempting to move patrons away from the elevator to
keep the entrance and adjacent walkway clear. Pl.'s
District SOF ¶¶ 2-5. According to the Park Place
defendants, Williams refused to move from the walkway area.
Park Place Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts
("Park Place SOF") ¶ 22 [Dkt. #29-1].
According to Williams, she never refused to leave, but she
did take issue with the way Park Place employees were, in her
view, rudely moving patrons. Pl.'s District SOF
¶¶ 5, 6.
point, Barnes arrived on the third floor and spoke with
Williams. Pl.'s District SOF ¶¶ 5, 6. The
parties dispute what happened next. According to Barnes, he
asked Williams to relocate and, after she refused several
times, he asked her to leave the Park. Park Place SOF ¶
23. Barnes claims that Williams then pushed him in the chest,
causing him to move backwards because he was on crutches.
Park Place SOF ¶ 24. Williams denies ever pushing Barnes
or refusing to leave. Pl.'s Response to Park Place
Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Pl.'s
Park Place SOF") ¶¶ 23-24 [Dkt. # 37-2];
see also Pl.'s Opp'n to Park Place Mot. for
Summ. J ("Opp'n to Park Place"), Ex. 8 Heath
Aff. She stated that she told Barnes one of his employees had
pushed her, and Barnes "responded in a rude, nasty
way." Opp'n to Park Place, Ex. 6 Williams Dep. Tr.
76:1-3 [Dkt. # 37-1]. At that point, according to both
Williams and Heath, they decided to leave. Id. at
76:17-19; Opp'n to Park Place, Ex. 8 Heath Aff.
night, Officer Gonzalez, a District of Columbia Metropolitan
police officer, was working reimbursement detail outside the
Park. Pl.'s District SOF ¶ 8. Under the
reimbursement program, the Metropolitan Police Department
("MPD") assigns police officers to private
establishments, like the Park, to provide police service.
Park Place SOF ¶¶ 1, 4; Pl.'s Park Place SOF
¶¶ U 4, 6. Officers working reimbursement detail
are on "full-duty status" and are authorized to
take police action, including making arrests, if necessary.
See Park Place SOF ¶¶ 3, 6, 11, 14;
Pl.'s Park Place SOF ¶¶ 3, 6, 11, 14. While on
detail, they remain employees of MPD and are paid by the MPD
for their time. Pl.'s District SOF ¶¶ 6, 9.
They do not receive any training from the private
establishments, nor are they paid directly by them. Park
Place SOF ¶¶ 7, 9-10; Pl.'s Park Place SOF
¶¶ 7, 9-10. Police officers on detail at the Park
remain outside the establishment except in limited
circumstances, such as when an altercation is reported.
Pl.'s Park Place SOF ¶ 13.
incident between Williams and Barnes was occurring, Park
Place employees requested that Officer Gonzalez provide
assistance. Pl.'s Park Place SOF ¶ 26. According to
Officer Gonzalez, when he arrived on the third floor, Barnes
told him that Williams had pushed Barnes. District Mot., Ex.
2 Gonzalez Dep. Tr. at 77:1-5 [Dkt. # 31-2]; District
Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts ("District
SOF") ¶ 10 [Dkt. #31]. Officer Gonzalez also stated
that after he began questioning Williams, she pushed him and
cursed at him. District SOF ¶10; District Mot., Ex. 2
Gonzalez Tr. at 80:2-18. Williams avers that she never pushed
Officer Gonzalez. Park Place SOF ¶ 27; Pl.'s
District SOF ¶ 10. Officer Gonzalez, who was in full
police uniform, did not arrest Williams at that time.
Pl.'s District SOF ¶11; District Mot., Ex. 2
Gonzalez Tr. at 114:3-5. Per his account, he instead escorted
her out of the Park because it was crowded and loud inside,
and he wanted to avoid having to raise his voice to speak to
her. District SOF ¶ 12; District Mot., Ex. 2 Gonzalez
Tr. at 81:4-9. At this point, Barnes asked Officer Gonzalez
to obtain Williams' identification so that Barnes could
issue a notice barring her from the Park. Park Place SOF
¶ 30. According to Officer Gonzalez, Williams then
"essentially fled the scene," and he pursued her in
an attempt to stop her and continue his investigation. Park
Place SOF ¶¶ 30-31; District SOF ¶ 12;
District Mot., Ex. 2 Gonzalez Tr. 91:9-19. Williams claims
that she and Heath were not escorted out by Officer Gonzalez,
but instead voluntarily exited the Park. Pl.'s District
of the Park, Officer Gonzalez followed Williams. Pl.'s
District SOF ¶ 13. He stated that he attempted to stop
her and that in doing so, grabbed her elbow and told her she
was not free to leave. District Mot., Ex. 2 Gonzalez Tr.
96:4-6; 105:8-12 (describing his "control hold" on
Williams' arm). Officer Gonzalez testified that Williams
began yelling that Officer Gonzalez was hurting her and
making references to Freddie Gray. Id. at 110:2-10.
Officer Gonzalez "keyed" his microphone to record
the exchange and called for additional police assistance.
Park Place SOF ¶ 32; District Mot., Ex. 2 Gonzalez Tr.
105:2-6; see also Pl.'s Park Place SOF ¶
to Williams, she and Heath were approached by police as they
were walking to their car, asked a number of questions, and
told not to move. Opp'n to Park Place, Ex. 6
Williams' Dep. Tr. at 99:3-101:8. Williams stated the
police officers were "evasive," and "Officer
Gonzalez was very aggressive." Id. at
103:8-104:2. She testified that Officer Gonzalez "went
to cuff [her]" without saying why, he was
"grabb[ing her] and .. . yanking [her] around," and
he was "menacing." Id. at 104:3-10.
Williams claims that after she said he was hurting her, he
"squeez[ed her] arm, pinch[ing her.]" Id.
security camera above the sidewalk where Williams was
approached and arrested recorded the exchange. See
District Mot. at 13. That footage, which has no sound,
depicts two police officers, one of whom is Officer Gonzalez,
approaching Williams and Heath on the sidewalk and speaking
with them. See generally Opp'n to Park Place,
Ex. 9, Bank Video, 8/9/2015. After some discussion, Williams
then turned and took a step away from the officers, at which
point Officer Gonzalez grabbed her by the arm. Id.
at 7:06. He put her arms behind her back and placed cuffs on
her. Id. at 7:16. Officer Gonzalez then stood next
to Williams holding her arm for several minutes. Id.
at 7:32-10:37. During this period, Williams appeared to try
to pull away from Officer Gonzalez multiple times, but he
continued to hold on to her arm. Id.
was arrested and charged for simple assault, assault on a
police officer, and unlawful entry. Pl.'s District SOF
¶ 14; Opp'n to Park Place, Ex. 3 at 1. Her criminal
case proceeded to trial in the Superior Court of the District
of Columbia, at which Barnes testified that he asked Williams
to relocate, she refused, and she pushed him in the chest.
Opp'n to Park Place, Ex. 2 D.C. Sup. Ct. Transcript of
Proceedings at 27:8-11; 28:18-25. During the trial, the
Government decided not to further prosecute the case, and the
charges against Williams were dismissed. Id. at
49:5-6; Opp'n to Park Place, Ex. 3 at 1. Williams
subsequently moved to seal her records in that criminal case.
Opp'n to Park Place, Ex. 3 at 1. On January 22, 2016, the
Superior Court granted the motion and further found by a
preponderance of the evidence that Williams "did not
commit the offense for which she was arrested."
August 8, 2016, Williams filed a civil complaint in the
Superior Court for the District of Columbia against the Park
Place and District defendants, seeking compensatory and
punitive damages. See Compl. On September 29, 2016,
the District defendants removed the case to this Court,
see Notice of Removal [Dkt. #1], and on October 12,
2018, the District defendants and the Park Place defendants
moved for summary judgment, see District Mot.; Park
Place Mot. [Dkt. # 29, 3l]. Those motions are now fully
briefed and ripe for decision.