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Wright v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

September 16, 2014

STUART WRIGHT, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

SARAH W. HAYS, Magistrate Judge.

Pending before the Court is a remand of its Order denying the motion of defendant Deputy United States Marshals Sean Franklin and Christopher Wallace for summary judgment on Count IV of plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (doc #49). The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that this Court failed to conduct a proper qualified immunity analysis as this Court merely noted the existence of disputed facts and summarily decided that qualified immunity was inapplicable. (Doc #82-1 at 4) This Court has been instructed to properly address defendants' qualified immunity defense and make findings of fact and conclusions of law sufficient to permit appellate review. (Id. at 2)

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

As instructed by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in its remand judgment, "the district court must examine the record to determine which facts are genuinely disputed and view those facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant, as long as those facts are not so blatantly contradicted by the record... that no reasonable jury could believe [them].'" (Doc #82-1 at 4) The Court finds the following facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff Stuart Wright.

1. In 2008, Vinol Wilson ("Wilson") was indicted by a Grand Jury in United States District Court for the District of Kansas for "conspiracy to manufacture, to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine base crack, ' and to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine" in the case styled United States v. Vinol Wilson, 07-20168-07-JWL/DJW (D. Kan.).
2. Following the issuance of the indictment, an arrest warrant was issued for Wilson; however, Wilson was not immediately located or apprehended.
3. Franklin, a Deputy U.S. Marshal with the U.S. Marshals Service in the District of Kansas began an investigation to locate and arrest Wilson.
4. Based upon his investigation, Franklin learned that Wilson had a history of drug, weapons, and aggravated assault offenses. Wilson had previously spent 78 months in prison for distributing crack cocaine and for using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. Wilson was considered armed and dangerous.
5. Based upon his investigation, Franklin also learned that Wilson was a black male, born in 1974, was into steroids, body building and dog fighting, and was known to play basketball with a group of acquaintances in leagues and tournaments in and around the Greater Kansas City area.
6. For example, Franklin learned that Wilson played on a basketball team that participated in the 2008 Sunflower State games.
7. After obtaining a copy of that particular team roster, Franklin undertook to talk with other team members in an effort to locate Wilson pursuant to the outstanding arrest warrant.
8. Eventually, on Wednesday, April 15, 2009, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Franklin made contact with Walt Bethea ("Bethea"), who had played on Wilson's basketball team.
9. Franklin showed Bethea a 2005 Kansas driver's license photo of Wilson that Bethea identified as "V" and Bethea stated that he knew Wilson was wanted by law enforcement for some drug charges.
10. Bethea also informed Franklin that Wilson played in an adult basketball league in Grandview, Missouri, on Wednesday evenings at the Grandview Community Center. Bethea said that Wilson had played in the prior week's game and was scheduled to play again that evening at 7:30 p.m.
11. Bethea stated that Wilson's team was comprised of all black males who wore orange-colored jerseys.
12. At approximately 11:30 a.m., on April 15, 2009, Franklin met with a confidential source ("CS") at the Grandview Community Center.
13. Franklin showed CS the 2005 Kansas driver's license photo of Wilson and CS stated that he had seen the person pictured, but did not know his name. CS stated that he had seen Wilson wearing an orange-colored jersey with the number "23" on the back. CS also said that Wilson had been seen with his hair in braids (or "corn-rows"), sporting a goatee, and with gold-colored teeth.
14. CS obtained access to the roster for the team that he identified as the one Wilson played for. CS explained that individuals playing in the league do not have to produce any identification and rosters are not checked by the Grandview Community Center for any accuracy. The roster included many of the names that had been on the team roster for the 2008 Sunflower State games, including Walt Bethea. Wilson's name was not listed, but there was an entry for "Vyshon Watson." Franklin knew that Wilson had a minor son named Vyshon.
15. CS told Franklin that he would assist in identifying Wilson if he showed up for the basketball game scheduled for that evening.
16. At 5:55 p.m., Franklin received a telephone call from a friend of Bethea's advising him that the basketball game involving Wilson's team had been moved up to 6:30 p.m. Franklin then placed a call to CS to verify the information.
17. At around this same time, Franklin set up a briefing area near the parking lot for Grandview High School to organize the arrest team and the operation to arrest Wilson.
18. At approximately 6:15 p.m., CS called Franklin and confirmed that the game involving Wilson's team had been moved up an hour and was due to start at 6:30 p.m. CS advised Franklin that Wilson had been seen inside the gym.
19. A few minutes later, CS called Franklin again and informed Franklin that Wilson was on the gym basketball floor, shooting baskets before the start of his game, was wearing an orange-colored jersey with the number "23, " and had his hair braided.
20. At 6:45 p.m., Franklin arrived at the Grandview Community Center along with five other Deputy U.S. Marshals ("DUSMs"), including Wallace.
21. Franklin made the decision to arrest Wilson during the course of the basketball game because he felt that this offered the greatest protection for the safety of the public and law enforcement. The Grandview Community Center parking lot was crowded with cars and people (including young people) and Franklin believed it might pose an undue public danger to try to apprehend Wilson as he was leaving the Community Center. Franklin also wanted to avoid any high speed vehicle chase. In addition, Franklin felt that by arresting Wilson on the basketball court while a game was in progress, he was somewhat less likely to have a weapon on him.
22. Franklin, Wallace, and the three other DUSMs proceeded to the basketball gym where Franklin showed his badge to the individual running the clock/scoreboard. Franklin told the individual to sound the buzzer and stop the game.
23. Franklin was wearing his U.S. Marshals Service badge on a chain around his neck.
24. After the buzzer sounded, Franklin and Wallace went out on to the basketball court toward a black male with braided hair, wearing an ...

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