United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
SIDNEY L. COLEMAN and LAKESHA M. JOHNSON, Plaintiffs,
DAVID J. COMPTON, TRACIE A. JOKOLA, JAMIE GRANN, KYMTANA WOODLY, KELLY L. BECKETT, BENJAMIN D. SCHWARZ, MARK D. ALLEN, DAVE MERTZ, JEFF FELT, MICHAEL G. MCEVOY, KELLY POWERS, JERRY B. JOHNSON, DET. RILEY, and ZACH HAGGERTY, Defendants.
OPINION & ORDER
D. PETERSON District Judge
Sidney Coleman and Lakesha Johnson, appearing pro se, are
jointly proceeding with claims that defendant Madison Police
Department officers violated their Fourth Amendment rights in
several ways in conjunction with the search of their motel
room for a crime for which plaintiff Coleman was a suspect.
Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment, and
plaintiffs have filed a motion for recruitment of counsel and
motion for protective order to deny defendants’ request
to depose plaintiff Johnson.
considering these filings, I conclude that there are disputed
issues of material fact with regard to plaintiffs’
claims that Coleman was seized without a warrant, Johnson was
seized without probable cause or a warrant and subjected to a
DNA swab, defendants searched the motel room, and defendants
unreasonably pointed their guns at Johnson and
plaintiffs’ two-year-old child. I will grant
plaintiffs’ motion for recruitment of counsel and deny
their motion for a protective order.
Sidney L. Coleman and Lakesha M. Johnson are both Madison
residents.The defendants were employees of the
Madison Police Department (MPD). David J. Compton was a
sergeant. Tracie A. Jokala, Jamie Grann, Kymtana Woodly,
Kelly L. Beckett, Jerry B. Johnson, and Kathleen Riley were
detectives. Michael G. McEvoy was an investigator. Benjamin
D. Schwarz, Mark D. Allen, Dave Mertz, Jeff Felt, Kelly
Powers, and Zach Haggerty were police officers.
January 12, 2011, at about 5:00 p.m., MPD dispatch advised
officers of a stabbing reported to have taken place at a gas
station on South Park Street in Madison. Dispatch provided
the following additional information: (1) the suspect was a
black man, approximately six feet tall and weighing about 175
pounds, wearing a "funny-looking" winter hat, a
blue t-shirt, and a black leather coat; (2) the suspect had
fled in a black BMW; (3) a light-skinned black woman
accompanied the suspect in the BMW; and (4) the victim was
still at the scene and had been stabbed near his armpit.
Johnson, Beckett, Jokala, Grann, and Woodly went to the gas
station. The gas station clerk told the officers that the
suspect had stabbed the victim in the parking lot near a gas
pump, using a knife that appeared to have a black blade.
Grann reviewed video surveillance of the incident with the
clerk on an in-store monitor. The clerk pointed out the man
he identified as the suspect. The suspect’s vehicle
appeared on the video, as did the woman who was with the
suspect. Although defendants’ proposed findings are not
completely clear, they learned from either the clerk or the
video that the suspect left the scene in a black two-door
BMW, possibly a 1990s model, with a ragtop. The license plate
was dirty and started with an "A."
Grann and Beckett returned to the police station, where they
edited and emailed clips of the surveillance video, together
with an incident summary, to other MPD officers. At about
8:30 p.m., Officer Jeff Pharo responded to Grann’s
email, stating that he had observed a similar car the
previous evening, with occupants similar to those described
in Grann’s email. Pharo recalled that the vehicle had
Alabama license plates that started with the letters
MPD database, defendant Jokala completed a query of vehicles
that were similar to the suspect’s vehicle. She
discovered past MPD contact with a black 1998 BMW bearing
Alabama license plate AZ38190. The vehicle was registered to
Terrie Coleman of Alabama, who had a son named Sidney L.
Coleman. Officers pulled up a booking photo of Sidney
Coleman. MPD records showed that Coleman had a girlfriend
named Lakesha Johnson. Defendants Beckett, Jokala, Grann, and
Johnson all agreed that the photo of Coleman appeared to
strongly resemble the suspect depicted in the digital footage
from the gas station.
Johnson and Woodly went to UW Hospital and met with the
victim in the emergency room at approximately 7:20 p.m.
Woodly collected a DNA buccal sample from him. Johnson and
Woodly learned that the victim had an arterial bleed in the
area of his stab wound.
victim told defendant Johnson what happened at the gas
station. As the victim was walking inside to pay for
gasoline, a black car almost hit him. He complained to the
driver. The driver continued on and almost hit him a second
time. In response, the victim hit the driver’s side
door and window of the car with his fist. The driver got out
of the car and approached the victim. They threw punches at
each other and then disengaged. The victim saw the suspect
holding a knife. The suspect got back in the car and left the
gas station. A few minutes later, the victim began to feel
itching and pain coming from his left chest and armpit area.
He noticed he was bleeding. He realized he had been stabbed,
so he notified the store clerk. The victim said he did not
know the suspect.
victim described the suspect as a black man, about
five-feet-ten-inches to six-feet tall, weighing between 120
to 135 pounds with a dark complexion and no facial hair.
According to the victim, the suspect was wearing a black
t-shirt and black pants and had short hair. The victim
described the vehicle driven by the suspect as a black BMW
two-door with a soft top and tinted windows. He believed the
vehicle was a 2005 or 2006 model.
Johnson and Woodly returned to the precinct. Based on
information gathered by defendants Grann, Beckett, and
Jokala, Johnson assembled two sequential photo lineups
including plaintiff Coleman that he intended to show to both
the victim and to the gas station clerk. At approximately
9:50 p.m., defendants Johnson and Woodly showed the gas
station clerk a sequential lineup with six photos. For five
of the six photos, the clerk said the person shown was not
the suspect. With Coleman’s photo, the clerk said
"It’s possible, it’s possible I’d have
to look at the camera again to be sure, but he looks similar
to the guy who was here." After the photo lineup was
administered, the clerk told the detectives that at the time
of the attack, the suspect wore a hat, a blue shirt, and a
Search and arrest
Grann and Beckett compiled a list of addresses used by
plaintiffs Coleman and Johnson during past law enforcement
contacts. They began searching several of these addresses as
well as area parking lots for the BMW. Grann told defendants
Johnson and Woodly that Coleman was known to have frequented
area hotels. Johnson and Woodly joined the search.
about 10:45 p.m., defendants Johnson and Woodly turned into
the parking lot of the Road Star Inn on Seybold Road. There
they saw an unoccupied black, two-door older model BMW with a
soft top backed into a parking stall. Johnson walked up to
the BMW and saw that the back plate read AZ38190, matching
the car registered to Terrie Coleman. Johnson and Grann
notified other officers that they had found the
suspect’s vehicle and advised them to come to the
response, multiple officers responded to the area of the Road
Star Inn, including defendants Beckett, Jokala, Grann,
Compton, Felt, Powers, Schwarz, and Mertz. Defendant Johnson
showed the motel clerk a picture of plaintiffs Coleman and
Johnson. The clerk told defendant Johnson that Coleman was
currently a paying guest, but that he did not know whether
there were any other people in the room. He showed the
detectives the guest information/stay information sheet,
which listed a "Sidney L. Green" as a guest in room
215, showed that he had checked in that morning, and listed
only one adult. The signature for the room read "Sidney
Coleman." The clerk showed defendant Johnson a photocopy
of a Wisconsin identification card belonging to Sidney Lee
state that they planned to have officers maintain
surveillance on the BMW and wait for plaintiff Coleman to
come to the parking lot before arresting him. But at about
11:50 p.m., officers observed a black man walking in the
parking lot near the BMW. Defendant Grann and others
approached this person and briefly detained him until they
determined that he was not Coleman. Because of this mistake,
officers believed they had lost the element of surprise, and
were concerned that Coleman had seen what had happened in the
parking lot and might attempt to flee the motel, destroy
evidence, or present a danger to others in his room. The
officers decided to immediately proceed to room 215 and
attempt to make contact with Coleman.
Johnson, Grann, Compton, Felt, and Mertz went to the room.
Defendants Jokala and Beckett took positions near the rear of
the motel in case Coleman fled in that direction. Defendant
Woodly stayed near the BMW. Defendants Powers and Schwarz
were positioned in the parking lot.
about midnight, defendant Johnson knocked on the door of the
room and announced the presence of Madison police officers.
Plaintiffs say that Johnson yelled at Coleman to come out of
the room, and that they were awoken by defendant
Johnson’s loud knocking and yelling. Coleman, wearing
only a t-shirt and underwear, opened the door. All five of
the defendants at the door pointed their guns at Coleman.
Coleman was told to walk backward into the hallway toward
defendant Johnson. Coleman was directed out of the room at
gunpoint. Defendant Johnson handcuffed him.
Grann asked Coleman if there was anyone else inside the room.
Coleman told him that his girlfriend and their two-year-old
son were inside the room. Grann asked Coleman if officers
could go inside the room to check for any other occupants and
Coleman responded "yeah." Defendant Compton ordered
the woman, plaintiff Johnson, to come out of the room and she
complied, exiting the room wearing what appeared to be the
same shirt Coleman had been wearing on the surveillance
video. Plaintiff Johnson states that to gain her compliance,
all five of the officers present pointed their guns at her
and forced her to face the wall. Plaintiff Johnson suffers
from ADHD and mild mental retardation. She says that the
officers "insisted" she come with them. Defendant
Johnson asked plaintiff Johnson if anyone else was in the
room and she stated that her two-year-old son was inside.
Mertz and Compton entered the room to perform a protective
sweep of the room. Defendants say that Mertz and Compton had
their guns drawn in a "low ready/tactical position"
with the weapons pointed to the ground, pursuant to
department procedures. They saw a child on the bed.
Defendants say that as soon as they determined there was no
threat to officer safety, they put their guns away, and did
not point their guns at the child. Plaintiffs say that Mertz
and Compton did point their guns directly at the child.
Coleman was only wearing a t-shirt and underwear, defendant
Grann asked him if he wanted the officers to get him pants
and a coat and he said he did. Defendant Compton asked
plaintiff Johnson to get these clothes, and Johnson agreed.
She walked into the room, picked up a pair of dark blue jeans
that were lying across a chair and handed the jeans to
Compton. Compton performed a cursory weapon patdown of them
and felt a hard object in the back pocket. After manipulating
the object for a moment, he thought the object was a folding
knife based on its dimensions. Compton told defendant Johnson
that he had discovered a folding knife in the pants.
Defendant Johnson flashed his flashlight into the pocket and
saw a black-handled folding knife. He was unable to see blood
or biological evidence on it.
in the room, defendant Johnson saw a dark leather-type jacket
with white stitching hanging on the back of the chair. On the
table, he saw a black baseball cap with furry flaps attached
to it. He also saw food items on top of the microwave,
including a bag shown as being purchased by Coleman on the
gas station surveillance video.
Compton placed the jeans on the bed and asked plaintiff
Johnson to find another pair of pants for Coleman. She
proceeded to a duffel bag and removed a different pair of
jeans. She also gave Compton a pair of high-top tennis shoes.
Compton took these items into the hallway, and with the
assistance of defendant Jokala, Coleman put on the pants and
Grann and Beckett escorted Coleman to defendant
Schwarz’s squad car and told Coleman that we would be
taken to the South District police station for questioning.
Grann asked Coleman if they could search the room for
evidence, and Coleman said they could not. Plaintiffs say
that defendant Mertz reentered the room anyway. After
speaking with the district attorney’s office, defendant
Johnson decided not to take the pants and knife with them
before getting a search warrant.
asked plaintiff Johnson to come to the South Police District
station along with her son to answer questions they had.
Defendants say that plaintiff Johnson was not under arrest
and that she agreed to go, but plaintiff Johnson states that
they insisted she go and she felt that she had no choice.
Plaintiffs say that Coleman told defendants about plaintiff
Johnson’s mental disabilities and pleaded with them not
to question her. It is undisputed that plaintiff Johnson was
McEvoy arrived after Coleman’s arrest. He secured the
motel room with a lock and hasp at about 2:00 a.m. McEvoy
turned over the key to defendant Johnson.
was taken to the South District police station and placed in
a holding cell at about 1:00 a.m. The cell did not have a
door that locks. Defendant Schwarz handcuffed Coleman’s
left wrist to a round bolt attached to a bench. Coleman says
that he was handcuffed "in a very uncomfortable
position" and felt pain when he tried to move.
Defendants Haggerty and Allen guarded the door.
was removed from the holding cell from about 2:30 a.m. to
about 3:20 a.m. for questioning, and was again handcuffed in
the cell after questioning. Defendants Grann and Jokala
questioned Coleman in an interview room. Coleman was
restrained in handcuffs during the interview, but he was free
to move about, which he did. Grann read Coleman
Miranda warnings. Grann asked Coleman if he
understood his rights as he had explained them to him, and
Coleman responded "Yeah." Coleman agreed to talk to
Grann and Jokala, and signed consent forms allowing police to
search the BMW and the motel room. Coleman also verbally
stated that they could search the car and room. Coleman was
returned to the holding cell. At about 5:20 a.m., he was
taken to the Dane County jail. Plaintiff spent no more than
three hours and 25 minutes in the holding cell.
Johnson and plaintiffs’ son were also taken to the
South District police station. They initially sat together in
a dimly lit interview room and were offered refreshments. The
child went to sleep on the couch in the room. While plaintiff
Johnson was questioned in a ...