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Coomer v. Graham

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

April 4, 2018

DALLIS COOMER, Plaintiff,
v.
VERLAN GRAHAM, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RODNEY W. SIPPEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court for review of plaintiff's complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). The Court has reviewed the complaint, and the Court finds that the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b).

         28 U.S.C. § 1915A

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court must dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. An action is frivolous if it Alacks an arguable basis in either law or fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 328 (1989); Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 31 (1992). An action is malicious if it is undertaken for the purpose of harassing the named defendants and not for the purpose of vindicating a cognizable right. Spencer v. Rhodes, 656 F.Supp. 458, 461-63 (E.D. N.C. 1987), aff'd 826 F.2d 1059 (4th Cir. 1987). A complaint fails to state a claim if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff names Verlan Graham, the arresting officer in his DWI case, as the sole defendant in this action. Plaintiff alleges that Graham falsified statements in his arrest report. Specifically, plaintiff claims that Graham lied in the report when he stated that three separate witnesses told him that plaintiff was drinking on the day he was arrested. Plaintiff states that these three witnesses have since written new statements contradicting what Graham stated in his arrest report.[1]

         Plaintiff does not claim that the arrest report and/or the witness statements were themselves used as probable cause to arrest plaintiff.[2] Rather, plaintiff claims that the “false police report” denied him due process of law and resulted in him missing time with his family. However, plaintiff does not explain how he came to this conclusion in his complaint. Plaintiff seeks over $50, 000 to compensate him for the alleged wrongdoing.

         Discussion

         The Court reviewed the criminal complaint and the probable cause statement underlying plaintiff's state court criminal action on Missouri.Case.Net. and found that none of the information relating to the aforementioned witness statements was included in the criminal complaint or the probable cause statement bolstering the complaint. See State v. Coomer, No.16CG-CR00452-01 (32nd Judicial Circuit, Cape Girardeau County Court). Thus, his arrest could not have been in violation of “due process” or in violation of the Fourth Amendment due to “false statements” in the arrest report. In fact, plaintiff's own version of the purported “arrest report, ” make it plain that the arrest report was written after plaintiff was already arrested.

         The probable cause statement attached to the criminal complaint states in full exactly what Officer Graham believed supported plaintiff's arrest. It states as follows:

I, Officer Graham, knowing that false statements on this form are punishable by law, state that the facts contained are true.
1. I have probable cause to believe that, Dallis Fay Coomer, committed [ ] or more criminal offenses: Driving While Intoxicated (Aggravated Offender), and Fail to Drive Right-Half of Roadway.
2. The facts supporting this belief are as follows:
On Saturday, March 12, 2016 at approximately 6:51 PM, I, Officer Graham, was stationary on Pacific Street, facing State Street in Cape Girardeau County. I observed a white Chevrolet pickup truck that appeared to be traveling slowly as it was heading northbound on E. State Street. The vehicle was traveling in the middle of the road. I pulled in behind the vehicle and activated my emergency equipment. ...

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