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Furlow v. Belmar

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

March 15, 2019

DWAYNE FURLOW et al., Plaintiffs,
JOHN BELMAR et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Ed Schlueter's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 135], Defendants St. Louis County and St. Louis County Police Chief John Belmar's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 77], and Plaintiff Howard Liner's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 84]. The parties oppose the respective motions. The motions have been fully briefed.

         This Court's previous Opinion, Memorandum and Order dated October 5, 2018 [Doc. No. 129] (“Previous Order”) fully disposed of two of the three named Plaintiffs' claims. The claims of Howard Liner (“Liner”) against Defendants John Doe 1-2, St. Louis County and John Belmar (“Belmar”) were stayed pending substitution of named defendants pursuant to this Court's Order to Substitute and Serve the Doe Defendants [Doc. No. 128]. Plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint substituting Defendant Ed Schlueter (“Schlueter”) as and for the Doe Defendants. Therefore, the claims and parties presently before the Court are Counts I, II and III, each alleged by Plaintiff Liner against Defendants St. Louis County, Belmar, and Schlueter.

         The Court now considers Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to Liner's claims against St. Louis County and Belmar and Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment with respect to Liner's claims, as they were not ruled on in the Previous Order. Also considered herein is Defendant Schlueter's separate Motion for Summary Judgment.

         For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff Liner's motion for summary judgment as to Count I is denied. Defendant Schlueter's motion for summary judgement is denied as to Count I and Count III, and granted as to Count II. Defendants St. Louis County and Belmar's motion for summary judgment is granted as to Count I and Count II, and denied as to Count III.

         Facts and Background


         Under Missouri State Law, a law enforcement officer “may arrest on view, and without a warrant, any person the officer sees violating or who such officer has reasonable grounds to believe has violated any ordinance or law of this state, including a misdemeanor or infraction, over which such officer has jurisdiction.” 544.216 RSMo. A “wanted, ” which is entered into a computer system by a law enforcement officer, identifies a person who is wanted for a crime, but for whom no warrant has been issued. Wanteds differ from warrants in that no judicial determination of probable cause is required to enter a wanted. If a St. Louis County Police officer encounters a person with a wanted entered against him or her, the officer is authorized by St. Louis County Police Department (“SLCPD”) policy to take that person into custody. The wanted, as displayed to the arresting officer, does not include a description of the probable cause on which it is based.

         In its Previous Order, this Court held that wanteds are a type of warrantless arrest, and therefore permissible only if the wanted is based on probable cause.

         Facts Not In Dispute

         The underlying “wanted” in this matter was issued by Schlueter on August 25, 2015. It identified Liner as wanted for the theft of a set of 22 inch vehicle wheels and tires from Jaylyn Davis.

         As for facts, Schlueter's August 25, 2015 Investigative Report is undisputed as representative of what Schlueter heard, observed, and believed at the time he issued the wanted. For their motions for summary judgement, however, Defendants rely heavily on Schlueter's deposition. The deposition was taken more than 17 months after the events of August 25, 2015 and includes details about the incident that were not mentioned in the Investigative Report. Liner objects to Defendants' characterization of the latter provided details as undisputed fact.

         The facts not in dispute, as recorded in Schlueter's Investigation Report, are summarized as follows. At 7:34 p.m. on August 25, 2015, Schlueter was dispatched to a residence on a larceny call. After he arrived at the residence, Schlueter “contacted the victim identified as Jaylyn Davis.” It is undisputed that Davis was not at the residence when Schlueter arrived, and that Schlueter only spoke to Davis on the phone. Davis stated that he and Liner had been in the front yard, where Davis was trying to sell stereo equipment to Liner. Liner was an acquaintance of Davis. Davis went inside to get some other items he wanted to sell. When he came back out, Davis noticed that Liner was gone and four wheels and tires were missing from the front yard. Davis stated that the wheels and tires were rented from “Rent ‘N'Roll” and had an estimated value of $3, 000.00.

         Davis told Schlueter that he observed Liner driving away in a silver BMW with Illinois license plates. Davis also told Schlueter that one neighbor had observed a black male putting the wheels into the back of a silver BMW.

         Schlueter attempted, but was unable to contact the neighbor, or anyone else, at the address Davis gave him. Schlueter further canvassed the area “with negative results.” Schlueter then entered the wanted for Liner.

         At 4:45 p.m. on October 5, 2015, Liner was arrested by the St. Louis Metro Police and taken into custody. The only charge listed on the Metro Police processing document refers to a document with the same reference number as the wanted entered by Schlueter on August 25, indicating that Liner was arrested based solely on the outstanding wanted. Liner was then taken into the custody of St. Louis County Police at 6:30 p.m. Schlueter canceled the wanted after he was notified that Liner was in custody.

         On October 6, Schlueter interviewed Liner in custody. Liner waived his Miranda rights and told Schlueter that on August 25, he and Davis had argued about money on the phone. Liner said that he had owed Davis for some stereo equipment he bought, but that he was not going to pay Davis back because Davis had stolen money from Liner's house. Liner's stepdaughter was a friend of Davis, and had let him into Liner's house. Liner told Schlueter that Davis was trying to sell the wheels and other stolen items on Craigslist.

         Liner told Schlueter that he had been out with his girlfriend on August 25th, and was not at Davis' home. Liner ...

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