United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
For CARLOS STARKS, Plaintiff: Benjamin C. Ellis, Kevin W. Betz, BETZ & BLEVINS, Indianapolis, IN; Sandra L. Blevins, BETZ & ASSOCIATES, Indianapolis, IN.
For LEISA MOORE, in her individual and official capacities, JOSE TORRES, in his individual and official capacities, WILLIAM BENJAMIN, in his individual and official capacities, Defendants: Amanda J. Griffith, Office of Corporation Counsel, Indianapolis, IN; Andrew R. Duncan, Edward J. Merchant, John F. Kautzman, RUCKELSHAUS KAUTZMAN BLACKWELL BEMIS & HASBROOK, Indianapolis, IN; R. Eric Sanders, CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, CORPORATION COUNSEL, Indianapolis, IN.
For KEVIN KELLY, in his individual and official capacities, RICK HITE, in his individual and official capacities, FRANK STRAUB, in his individual and official capacities, GREGORY BALLARD, in his individual and official capacities, INDIANAPOLIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, an executive department of the City of Indianapolis, CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, Defendants: Amanda J. Griffith, Office of Corporation Counsel, Indianapolis, IN; R. Eric Sanders, CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, CORPORATION COUNSEL, Indianapolis, IN.
ENTRY ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Hon. William T. Lawrence, United States District Judge.
This cause is before the Court on the Defendants' motion for summary judgment (dkt. no. 115). The motion is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, GRANTS IN
PART AND DENIES IN PART the motion for the reasons set forth below.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment is appropriate " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court accepts as true the admissible evidence presented by the non-moving party and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Zerante v. DeLuca, 555 F.3d 582, 584 (7th Cir. 2009). However, " [a] party who bears the burden of proof on a particular issue may not rest on its pleadings, but must affirmatively demonstrate, by specific factual allegations, that there is a genuine issue of material fact that requires trial." Id. Finally, the non-moving party bears the burden of specifically identifying the relevant evidence of record, and " the court is not required to scour the record in search of evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment." Ritchie v. Glidden Co., 242 F.3d 713, 723 (7th Cir. 2001).
On July 20, 2010, Douglas Craft was shot and killed outside the Whitfield Square Apartments on the northeast side of Indianapolis. After an investigation by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (" IMPD" ), Carlos Starks was arrested and charged with Craft's murder. On the second day of trial, however, the State moved to dismiss the charges against him, and the court granted the State's motion. As a result, Starks filed the instant litigation against the City of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety (" IPSD" ), various City officials, and the IMPD detectives he holds responsible for his wrongful arrest and subsequent incarceration. Of course, the facts leading up to Starks' arrest are somewhat disputed. Accordingly, the relevant facts of record, viewed in the light most favorable to Starks, the non-moving party, are detailed below.
A. Craft's Murder
As Craft and his seven-year-old daughter, V.R., were walking home from the grocery store between 9:00 and 9:30 pm on July 20, 2010, Craft's ten-year-old stepson, K.R., saw them approaching and went to help with their grocery bags. As Craft and the children neared the apartment complex, K.R. saw a man step off the porch of one of the nearby apartments and approach his step-father. The children continued to walk towards their apartment while the men exchanged words. Seconds later, Craft was shot and killed.
About this time, two sisters, Dr. Charlene Walton and Patricia Baker, were sitting in a car parked inside the Whitfield Square apartment complex. As Baker opened the passenger door to exit Walton's car, the women heard gunshots. Baker immediately stepped back into Walton's car and shut the door. Thereafter, both women saw a man, whom they suspected
was the shooter, walk away from the area where the shots were fired.
A third witness, a sixteen-year-old female named A.R., also reportedly saw the shooting unfold.
B. Initial Investigation and Witness Descriptions
IMPD Officer Stephanie Herr and Detectives Leisa Moore and Jose Torres, among others, responded to the scene of the murder. At some point, Detective Moore was assigned as the lead detective on the case.
While Officer Herr was securing the scene, an unidentified female told her that she saw a dark skinned black male with dreads, wearing black " Dickies,"  walk away after the shooting. After Officer Herr checked the grounds of the apartment complex, she left the scene to search for the shooter. As she drove by the grocery store across the street from the apartment complex, she saw Carlos Starks, who was and is a tall (approximately 6'2" ), " lanky" black male with dreads wearing black Dickies waiting at a nearby bus stop. At that time, Starks was also carrying a lunch box and was wearing a black hat with goggles and a small string backpack. Officer Herr stopped and questioned Starks.
Officer Herr's account and Starks' account of what happened next differ. According to Officer Herr, she pulled over to speak with Starks at approximately 9:50 pm.
Officer Herr advised him that he matched the description of a shooting suspect believed to be in the area but did not tell Plaintiff which descriptions he matched. In response, Plaintiff stated, " he gets it all the time. It's these damn dreads. I have to cut them off."
Officer Herr asked Plaintiff if he had any identification on him, which plaintiff stated he did not. Officer Herr then asked Plaintiff for his name and date of birth, wrote the information down, and read it back to Plaintiff to confirm that she transcribed it accurately. Officer Herr entered Plaintiff's information into her laptop, but immediately learned that Plaintiff gave her an incorrect date of birth--an act she believed to be intentionally deceitful. Officer Herr then requested backup and asked Plaintiff for his telephone number and address but she was unable to verify that the information was correct.
Defs.' Br. at 9-10 (citations to the record omitted). According to Officer Herr, during the stop, she determined that Starks: " 1) met the initial description of the suspect, 2) had given her a false date of birth, 3) seemed 'overwhelmingly helpful,' which in Officer Herr's experience as a police officer was suspicious, and 4) was across the street from the apartment complex where the murder had just occurred." Id. at 10 (citations to the record omitted). Although Officer Herr believed Starks was the shooter, she recorded Starks' information into the Computer Aided Dispatch
(" CAD" ) system as a " person of interest" in Craft's murder and allowed him to leave the scene.
Starks, however, claims that he told Officer Herr that he had just missed the 9:27 pm bus to work (which explains his work attire, goggles, lunchbox, and backpack) when she stopped him. Thereafter, Officer Herr gave Starks a pat down, searched him, and asked for his identification. He complied with her requests and provided her with his ID. Starks also voluntarily told Officer Herr that the address on the ID was incorrect, and he currently lived with his girlfriend at 4446 Park Forest Court. He also gave Officer Herr his phone number. After fifteen to twenty minutes of " just sittin' there," Officer Herr and her backup officer released him and drove off. Starks' Br. at 16.
Meanwhile, at the murder scene, Detective Moore and Detective Torres obtained recorded statements from V.R. and K.R. According to V.R., the shooter was a black male with shoulder length dreadlocks and was wearing a red shirt and blue jeans. K.R. also reported that the shooter was a black male and " had a red shirt, blue jeans [and] dreads," Dkt. No. 145-17, p. 8. K.R. also told the detectives that the shooter was similar in height and weight to Detective Torres (Detective Torres identified himself as 5'10" to 5'11" and 210 pounds), and might have had a mustache. K.R. also reported that he saw the shooter enter an apartment " a couple of [apartments] down from [him]," where his friend " Nanica" lived. Id. at 7.
Walton also gave a recorded statement at the scene. Walton described the shooter as short (approximately 5'4" to 5'5", but no taller than 5'8" ) and stocky, with dreadlocks, wearing a " reddish, pinkish shirt . . . and some black shorts." Dkt. No. 145-15, p. 2.
Before leaving the scene, officers also obtained a statement from A.R. She described the shooter as a dark skinned male, in his late twenties to early thirties, with shoulder length dreads. She further stated that the shooter was wearing a red shirt with black stripes and black " Dickies" shorts. She also reported that the shooter had a " cocky" medium, muscular build and was similar in height to Detective Torres (oddly, this time Detective Torres identified himself as 6'2" ). A.R. also reported that, prior to the murder, she saw the shooter driving a black Monte Carlo with red trimming, and she had seen him at the apartment complex on prior occasions.
C. Witness Identifications
Later that evening, Walton, Baker, and A.R. were transported to the police headquarters for additional statements. After returning to the homicide office, but before interviewing the witnesses, Detective Moore reviewed the incident history from the CAD and saw Officer Herr's notes regarding Starks. Believing Starks to be a person of interest in the case, Detective Moore prepared two six-person photo arrays, Photo Array 97483 and Photo Array 97484; 97483 included Starks' most recent booking photo. The other photos in the photo arrays were chosen because the men had features similar to Starks.
First, Detective Moore showed Photo Array 97483 to A.R. A.R. identified an individual named Robert Taylor as the shooter.
Next, Detective Moore presented Photo Array 97483 to Walton. While looking at the photo array, the following exchange occurred:
Q: And the first one I'm going to ask that you take your time looking at the photos and see if anyone of these people was the subject that
you saw tonight walk by your car. Okay, alright.
A: It could have been that guy. [Pointing to Starks.] I just saw a side. I didn't . . . I didn't see a full face just on his side.
Q: Yeah. You got a little emotional there.
Q: Can you put your signature underneath that? And what number is that?
A: Number four.
Q: And would you please . . . this is going to be corresponding number four, our signature here and then your signature here what it says witness.
A: Oh, am I supposed to sign . . . ?
Q: Your signature, yes, and where it says witness here. Okay.
Q2: What's that number, ID number?
Q: It's . . . also would you read the lineup ID number for us.
A: Okay, 97483.
Dkt. No. 145-16, pp. 5-6 (emphasis added). She did not identify anyone from Photo Array 97484.
Thereafter, Detective Moore interviewed Baker. She reported that she had seen the shooter at the apartment complex on prior occasions. Additionally, after Detective Moore showed Photo Array 97483 to Baker, the following exchange took place:
Q: Okay. I want to show you a photo array okay?
Q: Take your time Patricia. Note the time is 0255 hours.
A: I'm not sure. But he sorta looked like #4. ...