United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ONTARIO A. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
JOHN SCHOTT, ANDREW MOLINA, JOSEPH ESQUEDA, JOSE VIERA, KENNETH PETERS, DEREK L. VERNON, RYAN CARPENTER, VINCENT LOPEZ, CHRISTOPHER RANDAZZO, MATTHEW PHILLIPSON, TIMOTHY RABIDEAU, and MATTHEW OMALIA, Defendants.
Stadtmueller U.S. District Judge
who is incarcerated at Sturtevant Transitional Facility,
filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, alleging that his civil rights were violated. (Docket
#1). Plaintiff has paid the filing fee in this matter in
full. This case comes before the Court on screening
Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A.
the payment of any filing fee, the Court is required to
screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against
a governmental entity or an officer or employee of a
governmental entity. Id. § 1915A(a). The Court
must dismiss a complaint or portion thereof if the prisoner
has raised claims that are legally “frivolous or
malicious, ” that fail to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or that seek monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. Id. §
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25,
31 (1992); Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325
(1989); Gladney v. Pendelton Corr. Facility, 302
F.3d 773, 774 (7th Cir. 2002). The Court may, therefore,
dismiss a claim as frivolous where it is based on an
indisputably meritless legal theory or where the factual
contentions are clearly baseless. Neitzke, 490 U.S.
at 327; Gladney, 302 F.3d at 774. “Malicious,
” although sometimes treated as a synonym for
“frivolous, ” “is more usefully construed
as intended to harass.” Lindell v. McCallum,
352 F.3d 1107, 1109 (7th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted);
accord Paul v. Marberry, 658 F.3d 702, 705 (7th Cir.
state a cognizable claim under the federal notice pleading
system, the plaintiff is required to provide a “short
and plain statement of the claim showing that [he] is
entitled to relief[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). It is not
necessary for the plaintiff to plead specific facts, and his
statement need only “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)); see Christopher v. Buss, 384 F.3d
879, 881 (7th Cir. 2004). However, a complaint that offers
“labels and conclusions” or “formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not
do.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). To state
a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, “that is plausible on its
face.” Id. “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.”
Id. The complaint allegations “must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555;
Christopher, 384 F.3d at 881.
considering whether a complaint states a claim, courts should
follow the principles set forth in Twombly by first
“identifying pleadings that, because they are no more
than conclusions, are not entitled to the assumption of
truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Legal
conclusions must be supported by factual allegations.
Id. If there are well-pleaded factual allegations,
the Court must then “assume their veracity and then
determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement
to relief.” Id.
state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a
plaintiff must allege that: (1) he was deprived of a right
secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States; and
(2) the deprivation was visited upon him by a person or
persons acting under color of state law. Buchanan-Moore
v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir.
2009); see also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640
(1980). The Court is obliged to give the plaintiff's
pro se allegations, “however inartfully
pleaded, ” a liberal construction. See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v.
Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)).
complaint concerns his arrest by Defendants, all officers
with the Milwaukee Police Department, on April 14, 2015.
(Docket #1 at 1). He claims that Defendants conspired to
illegally search his residence and vehicle and to arrest him
without supporting probable cause to believe he had committed
a crime. Id. at 1-3. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges
that some of the Defendants were conducting surveillance that
day on the apartment of a woman, Monita Roundtree
(“Roundtree”), in Milwaukee, in hopes of
capturing a man, Norman Rhodes (“Rhodes”), for
whom an arrest warrant had been issued for violations of his
parole conditions. Id. at 2. Defendants observed
Plaintiff drive up to the residence in his car accompanied by
another woman. Id. Rhodes then drove up to the
Roundtree residence in his own car, which was of a different
make, model, and color than Plaintiff's. Id.
Rhodes had Roundtree and Roundtree's child as passengers.
Id. Plaintiff and the others entered the home.
allegedly observed Rhodes exit the residence, alone, on at
least three occasions that day but decided not to arrest him
at those times, despite knowing that they had only an arrest
warrant and not a warrant to search the Roundtree residence.
Id. Defendants nevertheless surrounded the home and
forced their way inside, without the residents' consent,
without a warrant or probable cause, and without an exigent
need to do so. Id. Upon entering the home,
Defendants immediately arrested Plaintiff, without probable
cause, and purportedly only because he is African American.
then manufactured probable cause to support a search of
Plaintiff's car. Id. Not only did they seize his
car keys after his arrest, they also employed a K-9 unit in
the area. Id. Plaintiff does not say that the K-9
alerted to the presence of narcotics or other contraband near
his vehicle, but the Court assumes that this occurred, or
that Defendants lied and said it did. Id.
Plaintiff alleges that two of the Defendants made false
statements in affidavits used to support a search warrant for
Plaintiff's home. Id. at 3. That search warrant
was executed the next day, April 15, 2015. Id.
April 16, 2015, two other Defendants interrogated Plaintiff
at the local police station and attempted, in Plaintiff's
estimation, to coerce him into becoming a confidential
informant against Rhodes. Id. Plaintiff refused, and
he claims that this led to police retaliation in the form of
ransacking his apartment and levying false charges against
available Wisconsin court records reveal that Plaintiff was
charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation
of Wis.Stat. § 941.29(2), in Milwaukee County Circuit
Court Case No. 2015CF002164.That prosecution was initiated by
criminal complaint filed May 13, 2015. Trial in
Plaintiff's criminal case began on December 19, 2016. On
December 21, 2016, a jury acquitted Plaintiff of the charge
Court, appreciative of the low bar required of pro
se complaints at the screening stage, finds that
Plaintiff may proceed on most of the claims implicated in his
complaint. Despite the brevity of his complaint,
Plaintiff's allegations implicate a wide variety of
potential claims. These all arise under the Fourth ...