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Walcott v. Connaughton

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 18, 2018

IJAHMON WALCOTT, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN CONNAUGHTON, ET AL., Defendants.

          RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. NO. 37 & DOC NO. 40)

          Janet C. Hall United States District Judge.

         The plaintiff, Ijahmon Walcott (“Walcott”), currently incarcerated at Carl Robinson Correctional Institution in Enfield, Connecticut, commenced this action by Complaint filed pro se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The defendants are Hartford Police Officer Robert Fogg (“Fogg”) and Windsor Police Detective Brian Connaughton (“Connaughton”). Fogg has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 37). Connaughton has also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 40). Both Fogg and Connaughton transmitted a Notice to Pro Se Litigant to Walcott, as required by District of Connecticut Local Rule of Civil Procedure 56(b). See Notice (Doc. No. 37) at Att. 4; Notice (Doc. No. 40) at Att. 6. Despite these Notices, Walcott has filed no Opposition.

         For the reasons that follow, Fogg's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 37) is granted and Connaughton's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 40) is granted.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A motion for summary judgment may be granted only where there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Rule 56(a), Fed. R. Civ. P.; Redd v. New York Div. of Parole, 678 F.3d 166, 173-74 (2d Cir. 2012). “When the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party can satisfy its burden at summary judgment by ‘pointing out to the district court' the absence of a genuine dispute with respect to any essential element of its opponent's case: ‘a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.'” Cohane v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 612 Fed.Appx. 41, 43 (2d Cir. 2015) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 325 (1986)).

         Once the moving party meets this burden, the nonmoving party must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009) (citation and quotation omitted). He cannot “rely on conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation' but ‘must come forward with specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact.” Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs., 781 F.3d 42, 43 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). He must present such evidence as would allow a jury to find in his favor in order to defeat the motion for summary judgment. Graham v. Long Island R.R., 230 F.3d 34, 38 (2d Cir. 2000). Although the court is required to read a self-represented “party's papers liberally and interpret them to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest, ” Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801 F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015), “unsupported allegations do not create a material issue of fact” and do not overcome a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000).

         II. FACTS[1]

         On December 1, 2015, Fogg and Connaughton, members of the Hartford Police Shooting Task Force, applied for a search and seizure warrant for the second-floor residence at 80 Cabot Street, Hartford, Connecticut. The warrant was signed by a state court judge the same day. See Local Rule 56(a) Statement (“L.R. 56(a)(1)”) (Doc. No. 37-2) at 1 ¶ 1. The warrant request was based on a police investigation and credible information that drug sales were being conducted from 80 Cabot Street and that Antonio Keane (“Keane”) was storing illegal firearms at that location. Id. ¶ 2.

         The warrant described the location as:

The address commonly known as 80 Cabot Street, 2nd floor in Hartford CT. With access to attic and common access to basement. A multi-family residence with yellow siding on bottom half of resident and gray siding on the top half. A set of wooden stairs and front porch leads to brown front door located to the left of the residence and is located on the east side of the street. 78 Cabot Street, Hartford, CT 1st floor located to the right is not included.

Id. at 2 ¶ 3 (internal quotation marks omitted). The warrant authorized a search for various firearms, ammunition, firearm accessories, and other items related to possession of illegal firearms along with proceeds of criminal activity and proof of residency. Id. ¶ 4.

         On December 7, 2015, Fogg and Connaughton conducted surveillance of 80 Cabot Street from an unmarked police vehicle. Id. ¶¶ 5-6. They saw a male, later identified as Walcott, leave through the front door of 80 Cabot Street. This door leads to only one apartment, which is located on the second and third floors of the building. They saw Walcott use a key to lock the door behind him. Id. at 2-3 ¶ 7. Walcott denies locking the door to 80 Cabot Street with a key, stating that he did not have such a key in his possession when he was arrested. Complaint (“Compl.”) Doc. No. 1 at 10-11 ¶ 11(A).

         Fogg and Connaughton continued to watch 80 Cabot Street. In the late afternoon, they saw another man leave through the front door of 80 Cabot Street. This man was identified as Keane and taken into custody. Although Keane denied living at 80 Cabot Street or having a key, he told police that the apartment was unoccupied. L.R. 56(a)1 at 3 ¶ 9. Fogg and Connaughton conducted a thorough search of both the second and third floors of 80 Cabot Street. See Memorandum in Support of Fogg's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 37-1) at 2. Fogg and Connaughton searched for items listed on the warrant, which included, inter alia, (1) firearms, (2) ammunition and other firearm accessories, (3) photos and video related to illegal firearm possession, (4) proceeds of illegal activity, and (5) proof of residency. See LR. 56(a) ¶ 4. They gave Keane a copy of the search warrant and affixed another copy to the refrigerator. Id. ¶ 10. The defendants found drugs and drug paraphernalia in a second-floor bedroom along with mail addressed to Keane. Id. ¶ 11. In a third-floor bedroom, they found additional drugs and drug paraphernalia, ammunition, a firearm, and a letter addressed to Walcott when he was previously incarcerated. Id. at 3-4 ¶¶ 12, 14. Walcott alleged that he was staying with Keane at the time of the search. Id. ¶ 13.

         Walcott returned to 80 Cabot Street while the officers were searching the apartment. He was detained by other officers and showed them a valid Connecticut Identification Card. Id. ΒΆ 15. The officers performed a DMV/NCIC check and discovered that Walcott had an active arrest warrant issued by the Hartford Police Department. The officers conducted a State Police Records Check which showed that Walcott had been convicted of a serious ...


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