United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
Bond Arterton, U.S.D.J.
Reyes, individually and in her capacity as executrix of the
Estate of Daniel Reyes, brings suit against Defendants
Officer Richard Galpin, Officer Keith Koval, Chief James
Campbell, the Town of Thomaston, Connecticut, and the
Thomaston Police Department for claims related to the death
of her son, Daniel Reyes. Defendants move jointly to dismiss
all counts of Plaintiffs complaint. For the reasons that
follow, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is granted in part
and denied in part.
alleges that her son, Daniel Reyes, "was a young man
with a well-documented history of serious, chronic
mental-health issues." (Compl. [Doc. # 1] ¶ 10.)
Mr. Reyes was "well-known to the Thomaston Police
Department, and had had numerous interactions with" that
night of June 26, 2016, Mr. Reyes "called 911 at
approximately 7 p.m. and reported that lives were in danger
at. . . the home he shared with his mother."
(Id. ¶ 12.) "Following this call, Mr.
Reyes gave his mother a kiss, told her he loved her, and
exited the apartment. On his way out the door, he left a
handwritten note on a table by the front door and picked up a
black-handled kitchen knife." (Id.)
dispatcher then called back and spoke to Ms. Reyes, who
reported "that there was no problem at the
residence." (Id. ¶ 13.) Patrol officers
were then dispatched to Plaintiffs address "to perform a
safety check" (Id.)
Keith Koval arrived first and "[h]aving observed the
knife, . . . remained in his cruiser and made contact with
[Daniel] Reyes, who challenged Koval to exit his cruiser and
draw his weapon. Recognizing the danger of the situation and
hoping to deescalate it, Koval declined to exit his vehicle
and instead asked Mr. Reyes what was going on. Mr. Reyes
responded that he would not talk to Koval until he exited his
cruiser and drew his weapon. Koval responded by backing his
cruiser up in order to create distance between himself and
Reyes." (Id. ¶ 14.)
Richard Galpin arrived on the scene "[w]hile Koval was
in the process of deescalating the situation with Mr.
Reyes." (Id. ¶ 15.) "Galpin exited
his cruiser, and then locked it with a key fob that he tucked
into his belt. He then heard Officer Koval report over his
radio that Reyes was armed with a knife. Galpin saw the knife
in Mr. Reyes's right hand and drew his firearm while
commanding Reyes to stop and put the knife down."
(Id.) Officer Galpin attempted to retreat into his
police cruiser, but he was "unable to open the doors he
had locked because the key fob was tucked into his
belt." (Id. ¶ 16.) Officer Galpin again
commanded Mr. Reyes to "stop and drop the knife, but
Reyes appeared not to comply and told [Officer Galpin] to
shoot him." (Id.) Officer Galpin
"circled" his vehicle and "retreat [ed] to the
front passenger side while Reyes continued to follow
him." (Id.) Then, "[w]hile standing at the
front passenger door" of his police vehicle,
"Galpin fired a single shot from his .45 caliber handgun
and felled Reyes where he stood near the rear passenger side
of the vehicle. Mr. Reyes died shortly after being
Ms. Reyes was "inside her home while her son was
slain" and was "helpless either to stop the
shooting or to assist her son as he lay dying."
(Id. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff was "unable to say
goodbye or that she loved him before [her son's]
One of the Complaint claims that the officers used
unreasonable force in killing Mr. Reyes, in violation of the
Fourth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. 1983. (Compl. ¶¶
18-26.) Count Two brings claims for failure to adequately
train officers regarding the use of deadly force against
individuals suspected of suffering from mental illness.
(Id. ¶¶ 27-32.) Count Three brings claims
under the Americans with Disabilities Act for failure to
train regarding "how to make reasonable accommodations
for persons suffering, or perceived to be suffering from,
mental illness or disabilities when these persons are either
arrested, taken into custody, or detained ...."
(Id. ¶ 35.) Count Four alleges wrongful death
under Connecticut state law. (Id. ¶¶
39-40.) Count Six brings claims for negligent infliction of
emotional distress upon Ms. Reyes. (Id. ¶¶
move to dismiss all claims of Plaintiffs complaint for
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Defendants argue that they are
entitled to qualified immunity on all counts alleged in the
Complaint and that the actions of the officers were
objectively reasonable, entitling them to dismissal of
Plaintiffs Complaint in its entirety. (Defs.' Mem. Supp.
Mot. to Dismiss [Doc. # 22-1] at 5, 7.)
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). Although detailed allegations are not required, a
claim will be found facially plausible only if "the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Id. Conclusory
allegations are not sufficient. Id. at 678-79;
see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
Claims against Officers Galpin and Koval
doctrine of qualified immunity shields state officials from
civil suit and liability for civil damages in actions brought
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, so long "as their conduct
does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have
known." Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231
(2009). Thus, in order for a plaintiff to overcome qualified
immunity: (1) the facts alleged must make out a violation of
a statutory or constitutional right, and (2) that right must
have been "clearly established" at the time of the
defendants' alleged misconduct. See id. The immunity
"affords government officials 'breathing room'
to make reasonable-even if sometimes
mistaken-decisions." Distiso v. Cook, 691 F.3d
226, 240 (2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Messerschmidt v.
Millender, 565 U.S. 535, 553 (2012)). "The
qualified immunity standard is 'forgiving' and
'protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who
knowingly violate the law.'" Grice v.
McVeigh, 873 F.3d 162, 166 (2d Cir. 2017) (quoting
Amove v. Novarro, 624 F.3d 522, 530 (2d Cir. 2010)).
clearly established right is one that is "sufficiently
clear that every reasonable official would have understood
that what he is doing violates that right." Reichle
v. Howards, 566 U.S. 658, 664 (2012) (internal quotation
marks and alteration omitted). While there need not be a case
directly on point for a right to be clearly established,
"existing precedent must have placed the statutory or
constitutional question beyond debate." Ashcroft v.
al-Kidd, 563 U.S. 731, 741 (2011). The Supreme Court
We have repeatedly told courts . . . not to define clearly
established law at a high level of generality. The
dispositive question is whether the violative nature of
particular conduct is clearly established. This
inquiry must be undertaken in light of the specific context
of the case, not as a broad general proposition.
Mullenix v. Luna, 136 S.Ct. 305, 308 (2015)
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
"Although [courts] generally look to Supreme Court and
Second Circuit precedent existing at the time of the alleged
violation to determine whether the conduct violated a clearly
established right, the absence of a decision by [the Second
Circuit] or the Supreme Court directly addressing the right
at issue will not preclude a finding that the law was clearly
established so long as preexisting law clearly foreshadows a
particular ruling on the issue." Burns v.
Martuscello, 890 F.3d 77, 94 (2d Cir. 2018) (citations
qualified immunity is 'an immunity from suit rather than
a mere defense to liability... it is effectively lost if a
case is erroneously permitted to go to trial.'... Indeed,
we have made clear that the 'driving force' behind
creation of the qualified immunity doctrine was a desire to
ensure that 'insubstantial claims' against government
officials [will] be resolved prior to discovery.'"
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231-232 (2009)
(internal quotations omitted). The Supreme Court has
therefore "repeatedly . . . stressed the importance of
resolving immunity questions at the earliest possible stage
in litigation." Hunter v. Bryant, 502 U.S. 224,
the Second Circuit has noted that "motions to dismiss a
plaintiffs complaint under Rule 12(b)(6) on the basis of an
affirmative defense will generally face a difficult
road." Garcia v. Does,779 F.3d 84, 96-97 (2d
Cir. 2015). "Not only must the facts supporting the
defense appear on the face of the complaint, but... the
plaintiff is entitled to all reasonable inferences from the
facts alleged, not only those that support his claim, but
also those that defeat the immunity defense."
McKenna v. Wright,386 F.3d 432, 436 (2d Cir. 2004)
(internal citations omitted). "As a result of this
standard of review, a defendant asserting a qualified
immunity defense on a motion to dismiss faces a ...