United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
DEGUILIO Judge United States District Judge
Pernell, a pro se prisoner, is suing three police officers
who were involved in obtaining his arrest warrant for the
attempted murder of Dytrell Allen. Pernell was convicted of
that crime and is serving a 40 year sentence. Pernell v.
State, 57 N.E.3d 900 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016) (table). Pernell
alleges that the defendants used false evidence to obtain the
arrest warrant and then falsely arrested him with that
warrant. “A document filed pro se is to be liberally
construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully
pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quotation marks and
citations omitted). Nevertheless, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A, the court must review the merits of a prisoner
complaint and dismiss it if the action is frivolous or
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is
immune from such relief.
arrest warrant was based on the victim's deposition
testimony identifying Kulon Lewis and “Trigga
Trey” as the two people who shot him. When the police
determined that “Trigga Trey” was Trayshaun
Pernell, they showed the victim a photo line up after the
deposition and he positively identified Pernell. This
information was included in the probable cause affidavit.
Based on the victim's testimony, an arrest warrant was
issued for Pernell. It is that warrant that Pernell alleges
contained false evidence.
does not dispute that the victim told the police he was shot
by “Trigga Trey” nor that the victim positively
identified his photo. He does not dispute the validity of the
photo line up where he was identified. Rather, he argues that
the affidavit falsely states that the victim had previously
identified his co-defendant, Kulon Lewis, in a photo line up
when the victim was in the trauma ward recovering after
surgery. Pernell believes the trauma ward photo
identification of Lewis did not happen because the victim
testified that he did not remember it.
Because [Pernell's] arrest was made pursuant to a
facially valid warrant issued by a judicial officer, the
[defendants] violated [Pernell]'s rights only if
reasonably well-trained officers in their positions should
have known that the testimony or affidavits they provided in
support of the warrants would have failed to establish
probable cause, so that they should not have applied for the
warrants in the first place. To demonstrate this, [Pernell
must] identify evidence in the record showing that [the
defendants], knowingly or intentionally or with a reckless
disregard for the truth, made false statements to the
judicial officer, and that the false statements were
necessary to the judicial officers' determinations
that probable cause existed for the arrests. A
“reckless disregard for the truth” is
demonstrated by showing that the officers entertained serious
doubts as to the truth of their statements, had obvious
reasons to doubt the accuracy of the information reported, or
failed to inform the judicial officer of facts they knew
would negate probable cause.
Beauchamp v. City of Noblesville, 320 F.3d 733,
742-743 (7th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted, emphasis added).
the mere fact that the victim did not remember speaking to
the police when he was in the trauma room waking up from
surgery is not proof that the police lied about questioning
him or lied about his responses. Second, the trauma room
statements were not necessary to the determination that
probable cause existed to issue a warrant for Pernell's
arrest. The Pernell warrant relied on the victim's
statements during his deposition and his subsequent photo
identification of Pernell. Third, even if the police had told
the judicial officer that the first interview was a total
fabrication, it would not have negated the facts necessary
for probable cause.
argues that the warrant's trauma room statements about
Kulon Lewis, his co-defendant, are relevant because the
victim did not identify Pernell until he was being deposed by
Lewis' criminal defense attorney. He believes that but
for the invalid arrest of Lewis, the victim's statements
would not have been made during that deposition. Certainly,
the victim would not have been deposed by Lewis' attorney
if Lewis had not been previously identified and arrested.
However, that does not mean that the warrant for Pernell was
invalid. The Pernell warrant was based on the victim's
legitimate identification of Pernell. The victim's
identification was not the product of the trauma room
statements (even if totally fabricated), because the victim
was known to the police and would have identified Lewis and
Pernell at some later date anyway. Therefore this complaint
does not state a claim.
it is usually necessary to permit a plaintiff the opportunity
to file an amended complaint when a case is dismissed sua
sponte, see Luevano v. Wal-Mart, 722 F.3d 1014
(7th Cir. 2013), that is unnecessary where the amendment
would be futile. Hukic v. Aurora Loan Servs., 588
F.3d 420, 432 (7th Cir. 2009) (“[C]ourts have broad
discretion to deny leave to amend where . . . the amendment
would be futile.”) Such is the case here.
these reasons, this case is DISMISSED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A because ...