Conquistador v. Hartford et al
ORDER. For the reasons stated below, the 24 Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. Plaintiff's 33 Motion to Appoint Counsel is DENIED as moot. The Clerk is directed to close the case. Signed by Judge Michael P. Shea on 3/13/2017. (Connelly, L.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
JEAN K. CONQUISTADOR,
No. 3:16-cv-151 (MPS)
HARTFORD POLICE DEPARTMEMNT, et al.,
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
On February 1, 2016, Plaintiff Jean Conquistador brought this lawsuit against the City of
Hartford, Hartford Police Department, Hartford Police Officer Jones, and Hartford Police Officer
Welson, alleging a violation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendants have
moved to dismiss the complaint because the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. For the reasons stated below, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
The plaintiff alleges the following facts. On January 25, 2016, the plaintiff was “robbed
at gun point by two young men.” (Complaint, ECF No. 1 at ¶ 8.) On January 26, 2016, the
plaintiff went to the suspects’ residence “in a peaceful attempt to recover his mobile phone.” (Id.
at ¶ 9.) He did not report the initial robbery. (Id.) The plaintiff was chased by one of the
suspects and as he fled, the plaintiff noticed that “the suspect held a handgun in his hand.” (Id. at
¶ 10.) That same day, the plaintiff stopped a Hartford Police car operated by Defendant Jones.
(Id. at ¶ 11-12.) Plaintiff informed Jones that he was robbed on January 25 and the men had
taken his wallet, student I.D., house keys, phone, social security card, and other items, and that
one of the suspects with a gun had chased him while “attempting to shoot, possible murder the
plaintiff.” (Id. at ¶ 13.) The plaintiff gave Jones and Welson a good description of the suspect.
(Id. at ¶ 14.) Jones and Welson then asked the plaintiff “multiple irrelevant and impertinent
questions.” (Id. at ¶ 15-17.) The plaintiff was “transported to his mother’s residence.” (Id. at ¶
18.) Welson asked the plaintiff if his mother would come out to speak with them, and the
plaintiff replied that “he was not going to wake his mother to speak with him, as it was an
unnecessary thing to do such.” (Id. at ¶ 19.) Welson then asked to speak with the “young lady
that opened the door,” and the plaintiff informed them that the woman was his brother’s
“spouse” or “girlfriend.” (Id. at ¶ 20.) Welson asked the plaintiff to get her because he wanted
to speak with her “one on one.” (Id.) The plaintiff replied that this was “insulting.” (Id.)
The plaintiff volunteered to go with Welson and Jones to recover his property, but was
told that he could not go. (Id. at ¶ 21-22.) They asked where he was initially robbed and he gave
them an “accurate description.” (Id. at ¶ 23-24.) Welson then called the plaintiff’s mother’s
phone and told the plaintiff that they “could not find the building where the incident transpired.”
(Id. at ¶ 25.) None of the suspects were arrested. (Id. at ¶ 27.)
B. Procedural History
Plaintiff filed his complaint and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis on February 1,
2016. (ECF Nos. 1, 2.) The Court denied the motion to proceed in forma pauperis and
dismissed the complaint without prejudice on February 10, 2016. (ECF No. 6.) The Court
granted a motion to reopen the case and the plaintiff’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis on
June 15, 2016. The Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on August 18, 2016.
Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the Court must determine whether the Plaintiff has
alleged “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570. Under Twombly, the Court accepts as true all of the complaint’s
factual allegations when evaluating a motion to dismiss. Id. at 572. The Court must “draw all
reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.” Vietnam Ass’n for Victims of Agent
Orange v. Dow Chem. Co., 517 F.3d 104, 115 (2d Cir. 2008). “When a complaint is based solely
on wholly conclusory allegations and provides no factual support for such claims, it is
appropriate to grant defendants[’] motion to dismiss.” Scott v. Town of Monroe, 306 F. Supp. 2d
191, 198 (D. Conn. 2004). For a complaint to survive a motion to dismiss, “[a]fter the court
strips away conclusory allegations, there must remain sufficient well-pleaded factual allegations
to nudge plaintiff’s claims across the line from conceivable to plausible.” In re Fosamax
Products Liab. Litig., 2010 WL 1654156, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 9, 2010). In other words “a
plaintiff must plead factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Vega v. Hempstead Union Free Sch. Dist., 801
F.3d 72, 86 (2d Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
The plaintiff invokes 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth
Amendment rights. To state a claim under Section 1983, the plaintiff must allege that a person
acting under color of state law deprived him of a right secured by the Constitution or laws of the
United States. 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
1. Defendant Hartford Police Department
The plaintiff names the Hartford Police Department as a defendant but does not otherwise
allege facts to support a claim against the department. The claim against the Hartford Police
Department is dismissed because a municipal police department is not a “person” subject to suit
within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Petaway v. City of New Haven Police Department, 541
F. Supp. 2d 504, 510 (D. Conn. 2008); see also Rose v. City of Waterbury, No. 3:12cv291, 2013
WL 1187049, at *9 (D. Conn. 2013) (dismissing the Waterbury Police Department as a
defendant in a Section 1983 suit because the “Connecticut General Statutes contain no provision
establishing municipal departments, including police departments, as legal entities separate and
apart from the municipality they serve, or providing that they have the capacity to sue or be
2. Defendant City of Hartford
“A municipality may be liable under Section 1983 for any ‘policy or custom’ that causes
a ‘deprivation of rights protected by the Constitution.’” Canzoneri v. Inc. Village of Rockville
Centre, 986 F. Supp. 2d 194, 204 (E.D.N.Y. 2013) (quoting Monell v. Dep’t of Soc. Servs. of
New York, 439 U.S. 658, 690 (1978)). To state such a claim, the plaintiff must allege that “(1) an
official policy or custom that (2) causes the plaintiff to be subjected to (3) a denial of a
constitutional right.” Wray v. City of New York, 490 F.3d 189, 195 (2d Cir. 2007) (quotations and
citations omitted). “The failure to train or supervise city employees may constitute an official
policy or custom if the failure amounts to ‘deliberate indifference’ to the rights of those with
whom the city employees interact.” Id. at 195 (quotations and citations omitted).
Plaintiff has failed to allege any official policy or custom, or any claim that the City of
Hartford failed to train or supervise its employees. Furthermore, as discussed below, there is no
underlying constitutional violation. Thus, the claim against the City of Hartford is dismissed.
3. Defendant Officers
Plaintiff asserts claims against the individual officers in their official and individual
capacities. With respect to the claims made against the officers in their official capacities,
“[o]fficial-capacity suits . . . ‘generally represent only another way of pleading an action against
an entity of which an officer is an agent.’” Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165–66 (1985)
(quoting Monell v. New York City Dep’t. of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). A
claim against the Hartford Police officers in their official capacities would be a claim against the
City of Hartford. See id. As discussed above, to state a so-called Monell claim against a
municipality, a plaintiff must identify a municipal policy or custom that was the “moving force
behind” a constitutional injury. See Roe v. City of Waterbury, 542 F.3d 31, 36 (2d Cir. 2008)
(quoting Bd. of Cnty. Comm’rs v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 404 (1997)). Plaintiff does not identify a
municipal policy or custom in his Complaint. To the extent that the Complaint seeks damages
from the Hartford Police officers in their official capacities, i.e., from the City of Hartford, such
claims are dismissed because the plaintiff has not alleged that a policy or custom of the City of
Hartford caused him a constitutional injury. Therefore, the claims against the officers in their
official capacities are dismissed without prejudice.
The plaintiff asserts a due process claim under the Fourteenth Amendment for the
defendants’ “negligence in honest and honorable police duty,” which the Court construes as a
claim for failure to investigate. Plaintiff alleges that the officers failed to recover his property or
arrest the suspects responsible for robbing him. “[A] ‘failure to investigate’ is not independently
cognizable as a stand-alone claim,” McCaffrey v. City of N.Y., 2013 WL 494025, at *5 (S.D.N.Y.
Feb. 7, 2013), and “there is no federal right to have criminal wrongdoers prosecuted.” Marsh v.
Kirschner, 31 F.Supp.2d 79, 81 (D.Conn.1998) (citations omitted); see also Grega v. Pettengill,
123 F. Supp. 3d 517, 536–37 (D. Vt. 2015) (“[D]istrict courts in this circuit have consistently
declined to recognize a claim of ‘failure to investigate’ as a violation of due process giving rise
to a damages action.”) (collecting cases). This is because “the duty to investigate criminal acts
(or possible criminal acts) almost always involves a significant level of law enforcement
discretion.” Harrington v. Cty. of Suffolk, 607 F.3d 31, 35 (2d Cir. 2010). “That discretion
precludes any legitimate claim of entitlement to a police investigation.” Id. (internal quotation
marks omitted). Thus, plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment claim against the officers is
Plaintiff also makes a Fourth Amendment claim against the officers. Even liberally
construing plaintiff’s Complaint, the Court is unable to discern any Fourth Amendment claim.
He alleges that he stopped the police car to speak with Officer Jones and that he “volunteered” to
go with the officers to recover his property. Thus, plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment claim against
the officers is DISMISSED.
For the reasons stated above, the claims against the Hartford Police Department, City of
Hartford, Officer Welson, and Officer Jones are DISMISSED with prejudice. Plaintiff’s Motion
to Appoint Counsel is DENIED as moot. (ECF No. 33.) The Clerk is directed to close the case.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Michael P. Shea, U.S.D.J.
March 13, 2017
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