James-El v. Detroit Police Department et al
ORDER DISMISSING CASE, Signed by District Judge John Corbett O'Meara. (WBar)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case Number: 5:17-cv-10791
HON. JOHN CORBETT O’MEARA
DETROIT POLICE DEPARTMENT, ET
ORDER OF SUMMARY DISMISSAL
Plaintiff Steven James-El is presently confined at the Carson Correctional Facility
in Carson City, Michigan. He has filed a pro se complaint challenging the conduct of
police officers during his arrest in connection with the conviction for which he is
currently incarcerated. Plaintiff is proceeding without prepayment of the filing fee in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). The Court dismisses Plaintiff’s complaint,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2),1 because Plaintiff’s claims are barred by Heck v.
Humprhey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) provides, in pertinent part:
Notwithstanding any filing fee, or any portion thereof, that
may have been paid, the court shall dismiss the case at any
time if the court determines that –
(B) the action or appeal –
(ii) fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted . . .
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint set forth “a short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,” as well as
“a demand for the relief sought.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2), (3). The purpose of this rule is
to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957) and Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2)). The notice pleading
standard requires more than the bare assertion of legal conclusions or “an unadorned, thedefendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009). “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
“Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]’ devoid of ‘further factual
enhancement.’” Id. at 1949 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).
Plaintiff has been granted leave to proceed without prepayment of the filing fee for
this action. Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), the court is required to
sua sponte dismiss an in forma pauperis complaint before service on a defendant if it
determines that the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief. See 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Similarly, the court is
required to dismiss a complaint seeking redress against government entities, officers, and
employees that it finds to be frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
such relief. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).
To state a federal civil rights claim, a plaintiff must allege that (1) he was deprived
of a right, privilege, or immunity secured by the federal Constitution or laws of the
United States, and (2) the deprivation was caused by a person acting under color of state
law. Flagg Bros. v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149, 155-57 (1978). A pro se civil rights complaint
is to be construed liberally. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).
Plaintiff’s complaint concerns the circumstances surrounding his arrest in Detroit
on October 5, 2014. Following the arrest and a jury trial, he was convicted of carrying a
concealed weapon, felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm during the
commission of a felony, and unlawful possession of marijuana. He names as defendants
the Detroit Police Department and the four police officers involved in his arrest. Plaintiff
alleges that defendants Zeolla, Harnphanich, and Banks manufactured evidence, the
officers lacked probable cause to arrest him, destroyed the patrol car video evidence, and
that the Detroit Police Department failed to properly train its staff.
Plaintiff’s claims necessarily challenge the validity of his related criminal
convictions. A claim under § 1983 is an appropriate remedy for a state prisoner
challenging a condition of his imprisonment. See Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 499
(1973). In Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), the Supreme Court established that a
state prisoner does not state a cognizable civil rights claim challenging his imprisonment
if a ruling on his claim would necessarily render his continuing confinement invalid, until
and unless the reason for his continued confinement has been reversed on direct appeal,
called into question by a federal court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254, or otherwise invalidated. Id. at 486-87. Because Plaintiff has not
achieved a favorable termination of his criminal case, this complaint is barred by Heck.
For the reasons stated, the Court concludes that the complaint fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the complaint is
dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that if Plaintiff elects to appeal this decision, he
may not proceed without prepayment of the fees and costs on appeal because an appeal
would be frivolous and could not be taken in good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3);
Coppedge v. United States, 369 U.S. 438, 445 (1962).
s/John Corbett O’Meara
United States District Judge
Date: June 2, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon the parties
of record on this date, June 2, 2017, using the ECF system and/or ordinary mail.
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