Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Petty v. City of New Britain

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 29, 2018

CITY OF NEW BRITAIN, et al., Defendants


          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge

          Plaintiff Timothy Petty is a prisoner in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction. He has filed a complaint pro se and in forma pauperis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the city of New Britain and four members of the New Britain Police Department: Detective Halt, Detective L. Smith, Chief of Police James Wardwell, and Sergeant Blackmore. Plaintiff principally alleges defendants violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Based on my initial review pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, I will allow plaintiff's federal and state law claims against Detectives Halt and Smith to proceed in their individual capacities as well as his claim against the City of New Britain, but will dismiss this action as to the remaining defendants for failure to allege plausible grounds for relief.


         The following allegations from plaintiff's complaint are accepted as true for purposes of the Court's review. On October 2, 2015, at approximately 11:44 am, Detectives Halt and Smith were surveilling the area of Horseplain Road in New Britain in an unmarked police vehicle. The detectives claimed that they spotted plaintiff in the driver's seat of another vehicle and saw him reach underneath his body. As plaintiff pulled into his driveway, Detectives Halt and Smith pulled their vehicle behind him, exited their vehicle with their guns drawn, and instructed plaintiff to “put [his] hands up.” Doc. #1 at 2 (¶ 11).

         Detectives Halt and Smith handcuffed plaintiff behind his back. When plaintiff asked if he was being arrested, the detectives said that he was not. Plaintiff then asked what this was about, and the detectives responded, “Shut up, nigger!” and told him to lie face down on the ground. Plaintiff refused to lie down on the ground because it was raining. One detective grabbed his legs and the other grabbed his arms and slammed him face first into the concrete. One detective pressed his knee into plaintiff's back, told him to “stay still bitch, ” and rubbed his hand on plaintiff's buttocks while the other detective held plaintiff's legs. Plaintiff started twisting and turning his body, which prompted one detective to lift up his legs in the air so that only his stomach was touching the ground. The other detective put on gloves, pulled plaintiff's pants down, and started smacking plaintiff's buttocks while telling him to “loosen up.” Plaintiff continued to twist and turn, and the detectives drew their tasers and instructed him to stop moving. Plaintiff complied. One of the detectives “jammed his fingers between [plaintiff's] butt cheeks, ” pulled out a bag that had blood on it, and said, “Got you.” Id. at 2-3 (¶ 11).

         Detective Smith later wrote a police report in which he claimed that plaintiff's belt and pants zipper were undone when he encountered him. Detective Smith further claimed that he frisked plaintiff outside his pants and between his legs and felt a number of substances which he knew from experience felt like narcotics packages. He also wrote that, based on his training, suspects often conceal illegal narcotics and weapons in their underwear. Plaintiff disputes a number of statements in Detective Smith's report. Id. at 3 (¶ 12).

         Plaintiff sustained injuries from the incident, including rectal bleeding, bruising and tearing, shoulder pain, and facial lacerations. But he was denied medical care for his injuries at the scene. Prison medical staff later diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder, and he continues to suffer physical and emotional pain. Id. at 3-4 (¶¶ 11, 13).

         Sergeant Blackmore trains, supervises, and oversees all operations of the New Britain police department along with the Chief of Police, James Wardwell. Sergeant Blackmore also signed off on the police report. Id. at 4 (¶ 14).

         The complaint alleges claims against the individual defendants for unreasonable search and seizure, use of excessive force, and denial of medical care, all in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The complaint also alleges state law claims including negligence, assault, and battery against one or more of the individual defendants, as well as a claim against the City of New Britain pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577n.


         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must review a prisoner's civil complaint against a governmental entity or governmental actors and “identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or (2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.” If the prisoner is proceeding pro se, the allegations of the complaint must be read liberally to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest. See Tracy v. Freshwater, 623 F.3d 90, 101-02 (2d Cir. 2010).

         In recent years, the Supreme Court has set forth a threshold “plausibility” pleading standard for courts to evaluate the adequacy of allegations in federal court complaints. A complaint must allege enough facts-as distinct from legal conclusions-that give rise to plausible grounds for relief. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Notwithstanding the rule of liberal interpretation of a pro se complaint, a pro se complaint may not survive dismissal if its factual allegations do not meet the basic plausibility standard. See, e.g., Fowlkes v. Ironworkers Local 40, 790 F.3d 378, 387 (2d Cir. 2015).[1]

         Unreasonable Search and Seizure

         The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right of the people to be free from unreasonable searches or seizures, and the protections of the Fourth Amendment are incorporated against the States-including municipalities and their employees-under the Fourteenth Amendment. The facts alleged in the complaint indicate that the police had no probable cause to arrest plaintiff nor reasonable suspicion to conduct a limited investigative detention, much less to engage in what amounted to a strip search of his person. See, e.g., Cotto v. City of Middletown, 158 F.Supp.3d 67, 78 (D. Conn. 2016). ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.