United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JEAN K. CONQUISTADOR, Plaintiff,
POLICE OFFICER ZWEIBELSON, ET AL., Defendants.
RULING ON DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (ECF #63)
A. Dooley United States District Judge
plaintiff, Jean K. Conquistador (“Conquistador”),
is currently confined at Bridgeport Correctional Center. He
brings this civil rights action against Hartford Police
Officers John Zweibelson and Arber Gashi (the Defendants). He
alleges a false arrest, in violation of the Fourth Amendment,
in connection with his January 1, 2017 arrest on threatening
charges.Officers Gashi and Zweibelson moved for
summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the motion
seeking summary judgment, the moving party bears the burden
of demonstrating “that there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and [that it] is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A fact is
“material” if it “might affect the outcome
of the suit under the governing law, ” and is
“genuine” if “a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party” based on it.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). The moving party may satisfy its burden “by
showing – that is pointing out to the district court
– that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party’s case.” PepsiCo, Inc. v.
Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d Cir. 2002) (per
curium) (internal quotations and citations omitted). If
the movant “demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact, ” the nonmoving party must do more
than vaguely assert the existence of some unspecified
disputed material facts or “rely on conclusory
allegations or unsubstantiated speculation.”
Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 781 F.3d
42, 44 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). The non-moving
party “must come forward with specific evidence
demonstrating the existence of a genuine dispute of material
reviewing the record, the court must “construe the
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party
and to draw all reasonable inferences in its favor.”
Gary Friedrich Enters., L.L.C. v. Marvel Characters,
Inc., 716 F.3d 302, 312 (2d Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted). The court may not, however, “make credibility
determinations or weigh the evidence. . . . [because]
[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence,
and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are
jury functions, not those of a judge.” Proctor v.
LeClaire, 846 F.3d 597, 607–08 (2d Cir. 2017)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted). If there is
any evidence in the record from which a reasonable factual
inference could be drawn in favor of the opposing party on
the issue on which summary judgment is sought, however,
summary judgment is improper. See Security Ins. Co. of
Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., 391 F.3d 77,
83 (2d Cir. 2004).
court reads a pro se party’s papers liberally
and interprets them “to raise the strongest arguments
that they suggest.” Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 801
F.3d 51, 62 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted). Despite this liberal interpretation,
however, allegations unsupported by admissible evidence
“do not create a material issue of fact” and
cannot overcome a properly supported motion for summary
judgment. Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33,
41 (2d Cir. 2000).
Gashi and Zweibelson were employed as police officers with
the City of Hartford Police Department on January 1, 2017.
Defs’ L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 1. On that date, they arrested
Conquistador, a/k/a Jean Gonzalez, on the charge of
threatening in the first degree in violation of Connecticut
General Statutes § 53a-61a. Id. ¶ 2. On
January 3, 2017, in connection with the threatening charge,
Conquistador appeared in the Connecticut Superior Court for
the Judicial District of Hartford, G.A. 14, in State v.
Gonzalez a/k/a Conquistador, Case No.
H14H-CR17-0689321-S. Defs’ L.R. 56(a)1, Ex. B
(Information & Court Docket). At that time, a judge
appointed Assistant Public Defender Linda Babcock to
represent Conquistador and released Conquistador on a promise
to appear. Id.
January 26, 2017, at a subsequent hearing in the same case,
Conquistador appeared again with Attorney Babcock.
Id. ¶ 3 & Ex. B. At the hearing on January
26, 2017, Assistant State’s Attorney Mark Brodsky
informed the presiding judge that he was seeking a six-month
diversionary program and indicated that if Conquistador
completed a mental health program for six months, the State
of Connecticut would enter a nolle as to the pending
threatening charge. Id. & Ex. C (Hr’g Tr.
1:16-23, Jan. 26, 2017). Also at the hearing, Conquistador
consented to the arrangement and indicated that he was aware
of what was expected of him. Ex. C (Hr’g Tr. 1:24-2:1).
Six months later, on July 27, 2017, Conquistador appeared
again with Attorney Babcock in the matter of State v.
Gonzalez a/k/a Conquistador, Case No.
H14H-CR17-0689321-S. Ex. D (Hr’g Tr. 1:8-14, July 27,
2017). At the July hearing, Assistant State’s
Attorney’s Carl Ajello informed the presiding judge
that he had received proof that Conquistador had completed
six months of mental health treatment. In exchange for
Conquistador’s completion of the mental health
treatment, the State of Connecticut entered a nolle
as to the charge of threatening in the first degree.
Defs’ L.R. 56(a)1 ¶ 4 & Ex. D (Hr’g
Fourth Amendment provides in relevant part that “[t]he
right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated.” U.S. Const. amend.
IV. A Fourth Amendment claim brought against a law
enforcement officer under section 1983 for false arrest is
substantially identical to a claim for false arrest brought
under state common law. See Jocks v. Tavernier, 316
F.3d 128, 134 (2d Cir. 2003). Indeed, state law defines the
elements of a claim for false arrest asserted pursuant to
section 1983. See Russo v. City of Bridgeport, 479
F.3d 196, 203 (2d Cir. 2007).
arrest “'is the unlawful restraint by one person of
the physical liberty of another.’” Russo v.
City of Bridgeport, 479 F.3d 196, 204 (2d Cir. 2007)
(quoting Outlaw v. City of Meriden, 43 Conn.App.
387, 392, 682 A.2d 1112, 1115, cert. denied, 239
Conn. 946, 686 A.2d 122 (1996)). A plaintiff alleging either
false arrest or malicious prosecution must establish, among
other things, that the underlying criminal proceedings
terminated in the plaintiff’s favor. Miles v. City
of Hartford, 445 Fed.App’x 379, 383 (2d Cir.
2011)(holding that favorable termination is an element of a
section 1983 claim sounding in false imprisonment or false
arrest.). See also, Roesch v. Otarola, 980 F.2d 850,
853-54 (2d Cir. 1992)(same).
defendants argue that this issue is dispositive of
Conquistador’s claims. They assert that the criminal
proceedings involving the threatening charge for which they
arrested Conquistador on January 1, 2017, did not terminate
in Conquistador’s favor because the State of
Connecticut nolled the charge in exchange for
Conquistador’s completion of a six-month mental health
treatment program. Conquistador contends that the charge did