Lemay v. Thornhill et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION OF THE COURT. Signed by District Judge Aleta A. Trauger on 2/28/2017. (xc:Pro se party by regular and certified mail.)(DOCKET TEXT SUMMARY ONLY-ATTORNEYS MUST OPEN THE PDF AND READ THE ORDER.)(eh)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
DEREK THORNHILL, et al.
M E M O R A N D U M
The plaintiff, proceeding pro se, is a resident of Nashville. He brings this action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Derek Thornhill, a member of the Mt. Juliet Police Department;
the Mt. Juliet Police Department; and “Laura”, a Wilson County prosecutor; seeking declaratory
relief and damages.
Officer Thornhill stopped the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff was told that he had been
impeding traffic. During the stop, Officer Thornhill took a taser gun from the plaintiff. The plaintiff
was arrested and charged with illegal possession of a weapon and impersonation of a licensed
professional (security guard).
The charges against the plaintiff were later dismissed. He needed a court order to get the
taser gun returned to him. The plaintiff alleges that he has been the victim of a malicious
To state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiff must plead and prove that the
defendants, while acting under color of state law, deprived him of a right or privilege guaranteed by
the Constitution or laws of the United States. Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535 (1981).
In order to establish a claim for malicious prosecution, the plaintiff must demonstrate, at a
minimum, that there was no probable cause to justify his arrest and prosecution. Thacker v. City of
Columbus, 328 F.3d 244 (6th Cir. 2003). Probable cause has been defined as the “facts and
circumstances within the officer’s knowledge that are sufficient to warrant a prudent person, or one
of reasonable caution, in believing, in the circumstances shown, that the suspect has committed, is
committing, or is about to commit an offense”. Michigan v. DeFillippo, 443 U.S. 31, 37 (1979). A
valid arrest and prosecution based upon then-existing probable cause is not vitiated simply because
the suspect is later found innocent. See United States v. Covelli, 738 F.2d 847, 854 (7th Cir.), cert.
denied, 469 U.S. 867 (1984).
Attached to the complaint are arrest warrants charging the plaintiff with illegal possession
of a weapon and impersonation of a licensed professional. The warrants were issued after a judicial
officer determined that there was probable cause to make the arrest. In light of this finding, the
plaintiff is unable to prove the elements necessary to sustain a claim for malicious prosecution.
Because the plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court
is obliged to dismiss this action sua sponte. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
An appropriate order will be entered.
Aleta A. Trauger
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?