United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER
N. Chatigny United States District Judge.
John Mara brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against the Town of Fairfield and the following members of
the Fairfield Police Department: Chief Gary MacNamara,
Detective Stephen Rilling, Detective Edward Nook, Sergeant
Frederick Hine, Lieutenant Michael Gagner, Sergeant Antonio
Granata and Detective Jason Takacs. Plaintiff claims the
defendants conspired to coercively interrogate, falsely
arrest, and maliciously prosecute him, in violation of his
rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. He
also brings state law claims for false imprisonment, false
arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress and
malicious prosecution. He claims the Town is liable under a
state indemnification statute. Defendants move for summary
judgment. For reasons explained below, the motion is granted
as to the claims against Chief MacNamara, Lt. Gagner, Sgt.
Granata and Det. Takacs but denied as to the other claims.
record shows the following. At a New Year's eve party
during the late evening of December 31, 2012, or early
morning of January 1, 2013, Philip Blackman was struck in the
head with a bottle. That morning, while Blackman was
undergoing surgery, his father notified the Fairfield Police
Department. Det. Rilling, acting as lead investigator, and
Det. Nook spoke to Blackman's father and several people
who were at the party. The attendees told the detectives they
had not witnessed the assault but had heard plaintiff was
responsible. Later that day, while speaking to the host of
the party at her home, the detectives were approached by
David O'Brien, who informed them that Luke Kazmierczak
witnessed the assault.
that day at the Fairfield Police Station, Kazmierczak stated
that he saw the person who hit Blackman. He said it was a
white male in his twenties with short, dark-colored hair. He
told the detectives the suspect ran from the scene and was
shirtless, highly intoxicated and out of control. Det.
Rilling obtained a photograph of plaintiff from his student
ID at Fairfield University (“University”). Lt.
Gagner, an officer in charge of technology and building photo
arrays, created a photo array including plaintiff and five
other young males with dark hair and light skin. When Sgt.
Granata showed the photo array to Kazmierczak, he selected a
photograph of another individual with 70% certainty.
that day, plaintiff's mother called Det. Rilling. She
said plaintiff had been told police were looking for him in
connection with the assault and he was receiving threatening
phone calls from Blackman's friends. According to
plaintiff, Det. Rilling told her the police wanted to speak
with plaintiff, but he was not the target of their
investigation or a suspect. They made arrangements for Mara
to come to the police station on January 2, 2013, at 5:00
p.m. Plaintiff had class at the University until around 3:00
p.m. At some point prior to the planned meeting, William
Heller, an attorney who worked for plaintiff's father,
spoke with Det. Rilling. According to Heller, Rilling told
him plaintiff was not a target or suspect in the
investigation and did not need an attorney to accompany him
to the meeting.
January 2, 2013, Det. Rilling, Dt. Nook and Sgt. Hine went to
the University to speak with plaintiff. Det. Rilling and
a University Public Safety Officer were waiting for plaintiff
by his car when his class ended. The officers were armed and
had used their vehicles to block plaintiff's car. Det.
Rilling asked plaintiff if he was willing to have the
interview on campus instead of the police station and
plaintiff said yes. The officers took him to a small room in
the Public Safety department.
the room, the officers told plaintiff he was not under arrest
but did not allow him to use his cell phone. They asked him
about New Years night and plaintiff admitted to attending
several parties that evening, including the party where
Blackman was struck. He said he was drunk that evening and
couldn't remember parts of the night. From what he was
told by friends, though, he believed he did not arrive until
after Blackman was struck. The detectives pressed him for
more information about that night and about the party.
Plaintiff stated repeatedly that he did not remember
assaulting Blackman, whom he barely knew, and his friends had
told him he did not assault Blackman. At one point, plaintiff
mentioned he would like to talk to some other people. The
detectives asked who plaintiff wanted to talk to, and Mara
responded “Um, my father. Um, possibly a lawyer.”
Det. Rilling then stated, “So, are you saying you want
to talk to a lawyer right now?” Plaintiff responded,
plaintiff's repeated denials, the detectives continued to
press him. Det. Rilling posited that surveillance footage
existed from the party and would show what happened,
including whether plaintiff was guilty. The officers
discussed their experiences with other suspects and said
plaintiff would later look like a “sociopath” if
he was lying. They said he could be “locked up”
in Bridgeport if he was guilty. Det. Rilling stated,
You're going to Bridgeport court and you're going to
have to hang out with all the people that are drug addicts,
that commit crimes and all that. There's a chance that
you are going to get locked up for a little bit. You're
going to end up with some guy that killed somebody, that
robbed somebody, that likes to smoke crack, that likes to do
drugs and cocaine, whatever. That's not you. That's
not you. That's what I am saying to you. You don't
belong there. That's why you need to make a decision
right now of how we're leaving this. Because I am getting
aggravated, I'm getting aggravated because you're
closed off and you're not wanting to tell me.
responded, “But I've told you everything I
know.” Det. Rilling then asked why so many people were
picking him as the one who committed the assault. Plaintiff
responded, “I'm not sure. I would love to find out
if I actually did it, I would have loved to find out from
someone.” After the detectives continued to press
plaintiff, he eventually said, “I was drunk and I
don't remember some, like a lot of the night, so
there's a chance it could have happened.”
to plaintiff, he was afraid of Det. Rilling. In the
interrogation room, plaintiff was in a corner and Det. Nook
was blocking the door. Plaintiff thought Det. Rilling was
being aggressive, and in the small room, he felt he had no
choice but to talk to the officers. Plaintiff later stated in
It made me question myself. I mean, it was something I knew I
did not do. They just got into my head so much that, you
know, I could be going to jail for something that I -- had no
involvement in. . . . He was trying to get me to believe I
did it, and they messed with my head so much that when I
left, I was doubting myself. Even though going into it I knew
I did not do this, they - - they messed with my head so much
while I was in there that I was questioning myself.
that when he asked to speak to a lawyer, “I got a
horrible response from them . . . it was aggressive, loud.
They made me feel like if I got up and left, they would be
sending me to jail in Bridgeport with murderers and
that's why I decided to stay because of what they said
and how they said it.” Plaintiff's father testified
that when he saw his son after the interrogation, plaintiff
meeting plaintiff in person, Det. Rilling thought he looked
different than in his student ID photo, so he took an updated
photo during the interview. This photo was provided to Lt.
Gagner, who prepared a second photo array including plaintiff
and five other young males with dark hair and light skin.
Plaintiff was the only person who appeared in both arrays.
Kazmierczak returned to view the second photo array and
selected plaintiff's photo with 100% certainty. He later
provided a sworn statement that plaintiff was the assailant.
January 3, 2017, David O'Brien went to the Fairfield
Police Department. O'Brien reported that he was at the
party at the time of the assault. Though he did not witness
the assault, he said Kazmierczak pointed out the assailant at
the party soon after the assault. Det. Takacs showed
O'Brien the second photo array and asked him whether he
could identify the person Kazmierczak had pointed to.
O'Brien selected the photo of plaintiff with 100%
certainty. He gave a sworn statement that Kazmierczak had
pointed to plaintiff. He also said he had taken a photo of
plaintiff that night after Kazmierczak identified him as the
person who struck Blackman.
Rilling also interviewed Daniel Langlais, who attended the
party with Blackman and knew plaintiff from class. He said he
saw Blackman being pushed out of the house. Langlais
intervened but was tackled. When he got up, he saw a group of
people standing around Blackman. He heard someone shout his
name and saw it was plaintiff, who had no shirt and was
“jumping around crazy.”
the people interviewed by defendants pinned the assault on
plaintiff. Plaintiff's friend Kyle Cullam told Det.
Rilling that plaintiff and his friends all arrived at the
party after the assault occurred. Two other friends confirmed
this version of events. Plaintiff's brother, Sean Mara,
stated that the assault occurred before he and his brother
arrived at the party. He also stated his brother was drunk,
shirtless for part of the evening ...