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Bennett v. City of Florissant Police Dept.

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

February 12, 2019




         This matter is before the Court on the motion of plaintiff, Taylor Bennett, for leave to commence this action without payment of the required filing fee. For the reasons stated below, the Court finds that plaintiff does not have sufficient funds to pay the entire filing fee and will plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis. Furthermore, based upon a review of the complaint, the Court will dismiss this action pursuant to Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 486-87 (1994) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).


         Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting violations of her Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search/seizure, false arrest, false imprisonment, ineffective assistance of legal counsel/malpractice in a criminal case, conspiracy and malicious prosecution.

         Plaintiff states that on Monday, August 27, 2013, she was looking at rental properties in the City of Florissant. She claims that she stopped at the corner of Washington Street and North Castello Drive to drink some water when Police Officer Daniel Fletcher, an Officer with the City of Florissant, drove past her and “executed a U-turn” on the road.

         Plaintiff asserts that she was stopped by Officer Fletcher because she matched the description of an individual who had been reported to have been opening mailboxes and taking mail in the Florissant area. Plaintiff asserts in her complaint that she did not match the description given to dispatch by Unknown defendant Danielson, a resident in the City of Florissant. Plaintiff claims that Danielson told dispatch that the person stealing mail was a “heavy set white male with a backpack, ” and because she was a female, she should not have been stopped by Officer Fletcher.

         Plaintiff claims that after Officer Fletcher stopped to talk to plaintiff, Defendants Sachs and Doe, two additional Police Officers with the City of Florissant, arrived to “surround” plaintiff and “effectively stop” her from leaving. Plaintiff states that while Officer Fletcher was “running the name plaintiff gave him, ” Sachs threatened plaintiff with detention if the search of her backpack wasn't allowed. Plaintiff states that she stood up placing both her arms in front of her stating, “whatever, I don't care.” Plaintiff alleges that after defendant Fletcher returned to the scene unable to ascertain plaintiff's name, he advised her she was under arrest for trespass. She claims she was arrested on misdemeanor charges without a warrant and without probable cause. She claims this violated her Fourth Amendment rights. She asserts that at this time, Officer Sachs searched plaintiff's backpack and located plaintiff's identification, a credit card in the name of Harold Larson (which plaintiff stated was her stepfather), and several envelopes plaintiff claimed she picked up for a friend.

         Plaintiff asserts that she was taken to the City of Florissant Police Department for processing, and Defendant Police Officer Hale placed a piece of paper on the desk in front of her and asked, “Do you want to just read it or sign it?” Plaintiff states that she just signed it, but she was never properly Mirandized. She claims that during her interview, she requested to stop being interviewed several times, but her “request was ignored by Detectives.” She was then placed in a cell for almost 72 hours without an initial appearance for the charges of trespass.

         Plaintiff states that the conditions in the cell were somewhat difficult. She claims she didn't have shoes on in the cell, she was not given the opportunity to shower during her three days there, had no access to toothbrush or toothpaste or soap, and she was only given an orange jumpsuit. She claims that she was made to use the toilet in front of anyone walking past the cell at the time. She states that the cell was “unclean, and that the toilet looked like it had not been cleaned in months. Plaintiff states that she was only given a thin blanket to use, but she does not indicate the temperature in the cell.[1]

         Plaintiff next states that water in the cell was consumed from an apparatus on top of the toilet. And she claims that the water apparatus had poor water pressure, causing her to touch her mouth on the toilet. Additionally, plaintiff claims that the person who handed out medication at the Jail failed to wear gloves.

         Plaintiff claims that she was eventually charged with federal mail fraud, as well as possession of stolen mail, and she was assigned Federal Public Defender Lucille Liggett. She claims that she told defendant Liggett exactly how she wanted to attack her case, notably, that the stop had been unreasonable and the evidence seized had been “fruits of the poisonous tree.” Plaintiff was charged by complaint in this Court on September 25, 2013, with aggravated ID theft. See United States v. Bennett, No. 4:13CR441 RWS (E.D.Mo.). On October 23, 2013, plaintiff was charged by indictment. Not only was plaintiff charged with mail fraud and possession of stolen mail, but she was also charged with possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices, and access device fraud. Plaintiff waived her right to file pretrial motions, and she pled guilty on January 9, 2014, to four counts of the indictment. Plaintiff was sentenced on April 3, 2014, to a forty-eight month term of imprisonment on each of Counts 1, 3, 4 and 5, all such terms to be served concurrently. Id. Plaintiff failed to file an appeal of her conviction and sentence.

         On August 18, 2014, plaintiff filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct her sentence. See Bennett v. United States, No. 4:14CV1438 RWS (E.D.Mo.). The Court denied plaintiff's motion on April 21, 2015 and declined to issue a certificate of appealability. Plaintiff failed to file an appeal of the denial of the motion to vacate.

         On August 12, 2015, plaintiff filed a successive motion to vacate her sentence. See Bennett v. United States, No. 4:15CV1250 RWS (E.D.Mo.). The Court transferred plaintiff's motion to vacate to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, who declined to issue a petition for authorization to file a successive habeas application.

         On December 21, 2017, plaintiff filed another successive motion to vacate her sentence. See Bennett v. United States, No. 4:17CV2916 RWS (E.D.Mo.). The Court denied plaintiff's motion to vacate as a successive petition on December 22, 2017.

         Legal ...

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