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Morris v. Sendek

United States District Court, D. Delaware

May 7, 2014

ERNEST MORRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER JEFFREY SENDEK and CPL. STEVE PURSE, Defendants

Ernest Morris, Plaintiff, Pro se, Wilmington, Delaware.

Howard R. Young, Plaintiff, Pro se, Wilmington, Delaware.

Darryl Anthony Parson, Esquire, New Castle County Law Department, New Castle, Delaware, Counsel for Defendants.

Page 480

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Richard G. Andrews, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Plaintiff Ernest Morris, an inmate at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, Delaware, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (D.I. 3). He appears pro se and was granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 4).

Page 481

Presently before the court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 19). On January 16, 2014, Plaintiff was directed to file an answering brief on or before February 6, 2014. (D.I. 22). Plaintiff was advised that if he failed to respond to the motion, it would be decided on the papers submitted. Plaintiff did not file a response to the motion for summary judgment.

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The complaint (D.I. 3) alleges as follows: After responding to a dispute, Defendants advised Plaintiff that he had an outstanding warrant and was being arrested. Plaintiff was standing outside his car, protested and got into his car, put it in drive and told Defendants that he was going home because he did not " have any warrants here." ( Id. at 3). Defendants pulled Plaintiff from the car and he was tased. Plaintiff alleges that while on the ground Defendants kicked and punched him. Defendants called an ambulance and Plaintiff was taken to the hospital for treatment. He was charged with assaulting an officer and other charges. Plaintiff states he was told a few days later that there was not a warrant so he should not have been detained.

The following undisputed facts are derived from Defendants' affidavits and police reports of the incident at issue. (D.I. 20, exs. A, B).[1] On December 13, 2011, Defendants New Castle County Police Officers Jeffrey Sendek and Steven Purse responded to the Castlebrook Apartments in New Castle, Delaware, to investigate a domestic-related burglary in progress by a person who was suspected of being armed with a weapon The suspect was subsequently identified as Plaintiff.

Sendek, who was the first to arrive at the scene, saw Plaintiff standing next to a white Chrysler sedan. Plaintiff had backed the vehicle into a handicapped parking spot in front of the apartment complex. Sendek spoke to Plaintiff who was calm and cooperative. Plaintiff stated that he was removing personal property from apartment 18D. New Castle County Police Officer Robert Williams arrived and informed Sendek that earlier in the day he had responded to a domestic dispute at the same location that involving Plaintiff and Eric Holmes, his cousin and former roommate. Williams had ordered Plaintiff not to attempt to retrieve possessions from apartment 18D without a police escort. Sendek asked Plaintiff how he had gained access to apartment 18D, and Plaintiff stated that he provided the name, " Eric," to the Castlebrook Apartments maintenance staff, who gave him access to the apartment.

Next, Purse arrived. He approached Williams and Sendek, who were speaking to Plaintiff and Holmes. Holmes told the officers that his television was in the back seat of Plaintiff's car. Williams ordered Plaintiff to remove the television from the rear seat of the vehicle, and to return it to apartment 18D. Upon his return from apartment 18D, Plaintiff entered his vehicle, and started the ignition. Sendek and Williams told Plaintiff to " sit tight." Plaintiff complied and exited his vehicle, but left the engine running.

Williams returned to his police vehicle and ran a check on Plaintiff that confirmed there was a warrant for Plaintiff's arrest for a theft that had occurred in the Delaware State Police's jurisdiction. Williams approached Plaintiff, who was standing next to the ...


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