United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Nealy (“Plaintiff”), formerly incarcerated and
proceeding pro se, filed this action in state court
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Mr. Nealy has asserted several
federal and state constitutional and statutory violations:
including due process; equal protection; freedom from racial
discrimination; freedom of association; deprivation of
liberty; and cruel and unusual punishment.
City of Meriden, Meriden Police Department, Detective John
Williams, Sergeant Mennone, Sergeant Cardona, Officer Welles,
Officer Witkins, and the members of the CSU Unit
(collectively “Defendants”), removed the case
here and has filed a motion for summary judgment.
following reasons, the Court GRANTS
Defendants' motion as to the federal claims and declines
to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Mr. Nealy's
remaining state law claims and therefore remands them back to
Connecticut Superior Court.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
early morning hours of April 5, 2014, Desiree McKnight
(“Ms. McKnight”), Mr. Nealy's girlfriend,
allegedly returned to her apartment after an evening out. ECF
No. 25, at 2. Mr. Nealy allegedly was sleeping on Ms.
McKnight's living room couch. Id. As Ms.
McKnight approached her apartment, she allegedly noticed two
masked men-one with a gun. Id. Ms. McKnight
allegedly entered her home and closed the door behind her,
but the men allegedly kicked in the door. One man allegedly
demanded her money, while the other allegedly brandished the
gun. Id. The unarmed man allegedly dragged Ms.
McKnight by her hair to an upstairs bedroom and allegedly
threatened to kill her, if she did not give up her money and
jewelry. Id. According to Ms. McKnight, the man fled
the bedroom when he heard a gunshot. Id.
Ms. McKnight was upstairs, Mr. Nealy allegedly awoke and fled
through a sliding door-leaping from the balcony to get help.
Id. As he left, he allegedly heard a gunshot behind
him. Id. In his search for help, Mr. Nealy allegedly
saw police vehicles approach the residence. Id. Mr.
Nealy was taken to the hospital for treatment of a gunshot
wound to his upper arm. Id.
officers allegedly responded to the reported home invasion
and shooting. Id. Officer Welles allegedly observed
damage to the door frame, $1, 206 on a table in the living
room, and a bullet hole through the sliding door blinds and
door frame. Id. at 3-4. Officer Witkins interviewed
Ms. McKnight. Id. at 3.
the interview, Ms. McKnight signed the Meriden Police
Department Consent to Search form, which provided that
“I Desiree McKnight have been informed of my
Constitutional Right not to have search made of my property
her-in-after mentioned without a search warrant and my right
to refuse to consent to a search, hereby authorize the . . .
Meriden Police Dept. to conduct a complete search of . . . My
property located at 775 West Main St, Apt P.”
Id. Ms. McKnight was then taken to the hospital.
continued searching for evidence that would identify the home
invaders, such as fingerprints, hair fibers, and bullet
fragments. Id. at 3-4. During their search,
detectives examined the dresser drawers opened by the home
invasion suspect and noticed a large clear bag containing 2,
310 glassine bags filled with brown powder, which later
tested positive for heroin. Id. at 4. Officers
immediately recognized the bags as the type used to package
and sell heroin on the streets; they seized 1.7 pounds of
heroin, with a street value of $45, 000. Id.
Detectives also found a safe containing $33, 620 in small
bills. Id. The officers seized these items, and the
$1, 206 found in the living room. Id.
7, 2014, a state court judge issued a warrant for Mr.
Nealy's arrest on charges of possession of narcotics,
possession with intent to sell over one ounce, possession
with intent to sell within 1, 500 feet of a daycare facility,
and conspiracy to distribute over one ounce. Id. at
4. Mr. Nealy later pled guilty to the charge of possession of
narcotics with intent to sell and the judge sentenced him to
thirteen years imprisonment-suspended after six years-and
three years of probation. Id. The judge also ordered
that law enforcement return half of the money seized from Mr.
2016, Mr. Nealy filed a state habeas action in state court
challenging his conviction. Id. at 5. That action
remains pending. Id.
October 17, 2016, Mr. Nealy agreed to a modification of his
sentence to thirteen years-suspended after fifty months-and
three years of conditional discharge. Id. At the
time, Mr. Nealy had a pending motion to correct his sentence
because officers never returned the cash seized, subject to
federal forfeiture. Id. In exchange for a downward
modification, Mr. Nealy withdrew his motion. Id.
December 2016, Mr. Nealy filed this lawsuit in state court.
Id. On January 6, 2017, Defendants moved to remove
the case to federal court, and the Court issued a scheduling
order with pre-trial deadlines. ECF Nos. 1, 3.
Nealy claims that the officers exceeded the scope of the
initial armed home invasion and shooting investigation.
Compl., at 4. He argues that during the mayhem of police
arriving, securing the crime scene, and beginning to conduct
the investigation, Ms. McKnight gave consent to search the
crime scene. Id. at 5. He contends that the
authorization she gave did not include the dresser or safe
where officers found the heroin and cash-but was limited to
the crime scene. Id. According to Mr. Nealy, this
search and seizure violated protocol and his due process
rights. Mr. Nealy further contends that he was a guest at the