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Miller v. Stallworth

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 20, 2018

STEPHEN MILLER, Plaintiff,
v.
CHARLES STALLWORTH, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

          JEFFREY ALKER MEYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Stephen Miller brings this action against defendants Charles Stallworth and East End Baptist Tabernacle for what the Court construes to be claims for false arrest and malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants have moved to dismiss this action.

         The Court will grant defendants' motion to dismiss for three reasons. First, plaintiff has not alleged facts that give rise to plausible grounds for relief. Second, because the complaint alleges that plaintiff pleaded no contest to charges stemming from his arrest, the Court may not grant money damages under the rule of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). Third, because plaintiff has not alleged a favorable termination of the charge or charges stemming from his arrests, he cannot sustain a claim for false arrest or malicious prosecution.

         Background

         Plaintiff has filed a complaint titled “Damages for False Charges.” Doc. #1 at 1. The complaint names two defendants: Rev. Charles Stallworth and the East End Baptist Tabernacle Church. It states that plaintiff “brings this action seeking damages following a no contest plea due to the payment by defendants to off duty Bridgeport police officer Roger Reid hired to arrest the plaintiff if he came to church services” at the East End Baptist Tabernacle Church. Ibid. (¶ 1).

         The complaint goes on to describe how plaintiff went to the church on June 21, 2015, after having attended a service at the church one week before without incident. Plaintiff appeared at the church wearing a T-shirt stating: “5 COPS MURDERED ERIC GARNER, ” which “induced friendly comments by many African Americans.” Ibid. (¶ 2).

         Officer Reid (who is not named as a defendant) was standing in front of the church when plaintiff arrived. Plaintiff was in the lobby of the church speaking with two church members when Officer Reid approached him with a piece of paper and asked to speak to him outside. Officer Reid then spoke to plaintiff about allegedly harassing emails, and plaintiff denied sending emails. Officer Reid called for back-up and then arrested plaintiff, and plaintiff's car was towed away.

         About six weeks later, Officer Reid arrested plaintiff again on August 2, 2015, at a Stop and Shop supermarket in Bridgeport. According to plaintiff, “[t]he surveillance film in the store was altered in spite of a court order to preserve the film proving these charges false too.” Id. at 2 (¶ 7).

In both cases witnesses lied for the police story. These lies were voluntary which concerned me for the integrity of a jury regardless of the evidence. With the court's disregard of the speedy trial motions and the destruction of the exculpatory film I decided a trial was too risky; pleading no contest.

Id. at 2 (¶ 8).

         The complaint goes on to describe plaintiff's “PURPOSE TO ATTEND THIS AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCH” and his “concern for the endless injustice of African Americans being murdered by police officials without any charges filed by district attorneys or United State's attorneys regardless of glaring proof was being protested in an absurd, ineffective manner.” Id. at 3. “I don't know these churches or their pastors so I approached Bishop John Diamond to explain a better strategy, ” and “Rev. Diamond referred me to defendant Rev. Stallworth explaining Stallworth was a political leader.” Ibid. The complaint concludes with the following two paragraphs:

Recently the Kaepernick protest was reversed by the media never using the accurate work “murder” replaced by “brutality”. Each black victim is dead none were alive from brutality but black leaders ignore this glaring fact.
Never using the word “murder” by anybody proves the power of the media putting the entire country in a deep trance. Being shoved or ...

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