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Simmons v. McKay

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

April 23, 2018

SCOTTY McKAY, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Freddie H. Simmons, Jr., an inmate at the Lois DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville, Tennessee, filed this pro se civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiff also filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 10.) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's application to proceed in forma pauperis will be granted, but this action will be dismissed because Plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.

         I. Application to Proceed as a Pauper

         The Court may authorize a prisoner to file a civil suit without prepaying the filing fee. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). Because it appears from Plaintiff's in forma pauperis application (Doc. No. 10) and revised in forma pauperis application (Doc. No. 16) that he lacks sufficient financial resources from which to pay the full filing fee in advance, Plaintiff's application (Doc. No. 10) will be granted. Plaintiff nonetheless remains responsible for paying the full $350.00 filing fee, so the fee will be assessed as directed in the accompanying Order. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1).

         II. Initial Review

         The Court is required to conduct an initial review and dismiss the complaint if it is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915A, 1915(e)(2)(B); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1). The Court must construe a pro se plaintiff's complaint liberally, United States v. Smotherman, 838 F.3d 736 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)), and accept the plaintiff's factual allegations as true unless they are entirely without credibility. See Thomas v. Eby, 481 F.3d 434, 437 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992)).

         A. Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff's statement of facts in this case includes allegations in numerous pages attached to the complaint (Doc. No. 1), and allegations in eleven additional notices or letters (Doc. Nos. 3- 5, 7-9, 13, 15, 17-19). Plaintiff's handwriting is generally legible, but he does not provide a coherent narrative of the events that give rise to his claims. To understand the facts presented by Plaintiff, the Court must consider the allegations in all of Plaintiff's filings together and draw a number of inferences. Accepting any specific factual allegations in the filings as true, and drawing the necessary reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor, the Court has established the following summary of events for the purpose of initial review.

         1. Events Up to and Including Plaintiff's First Period of Incarceration

         Plaintiff alleges that “Franklin [County]”-including the Winchester Police Department (“WPD”) and the Huntland Police Department-has targeted him because he is an African-American since 1989. (Doc. No. 8 at 2.) Plaintiff also alleges that individual WPD officers have targeted him at various times. For example, at some point, WPD Deputy Duram created a false police report reflecting that Plaintiff “kicked the dog's teeth in” and “kicked the door in on the house off Glaus Rd. in Belvidere.” (Doc. No. 1 at 6.) WPD Officer Scotty McKay was “jealous of [Plaintiff because he has] a lot of white female friends, ” and would follow Plaintiff into the convenience store, stand behind Plaintiff, and stare at the items Plaintiff was purchasing. (Doc. No. 13 at 1-2.)

         The individual who accounts for most of Plaintiff's allegations against the WPD, however, is Officer Danny Mantooth. According to Plaintiff, Mantooth is a “targeting uneducated racist” (Doc. No. 4 at 2) who “use[d] to date [the mother of his child]” (Doc. No. 5 at 1) and is “responsible for . . . many people . . . lost in the system.” (Doc. No. 7 at 1.) Mantooth and fellow WPD officer Brian Mitchel frequently followed Plaintiff to the “Black neighborhood” and asked him personal identifying questions. (Doc. No. 1 at 4, 6.) Mitchel and Mantooth were “always trying to control and terrorize the [Black] neighborhood.” (Id. at 6; Doc. No. 4 at 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Mantooth “stole [his] money on three occasions, ” including once when Mantooth and two other WPD officers came “storming in” a duplex where Plaintiff was located and stole $1, 500 from him. (Doc. No. 1 at 9.) The second instance occurred in July 2009, when Mantooth “found something on the ground and pinned it on” Plaintiff (Doc. No. 4 at 2), resulting in Plaintiff “[doing] 6 [years] for nothing” and paying $987. (Doc. No. 1 at 9; Doc. No. 4 at 2). On the third occasion, Mitchel, Mantooth, and another WPD officer “sprayed [Plaintiff with] pepper [mace] twice, ” “transported [him] to a secluded place like the old [county] jail, ” and stole $750. (Doc. No. 1 at 9.)

         As stated above, Mantooth allegedly “found something on the ground and pinned it on” Plaintiff in July 2009. (Doc. No. 4 at 2.) This led to Plaintiff's conviction on a “Schedule II charge” in the General Sessions Court in Franklin County, Tennessee. (Doc. No. 1 at 5, 8.) Plaintiff alleges that he “didn't have anything, ” but the court “took Danny Mantooth's word.” (Doc. No. 8 at 1.) General Sessions Judge Farris imposed a sentence of incarceration, during which he “had Plaintiff going to” Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute four times, and to Centerstone, a behavioral health services provider, three times. (Doc. No. 1 at 5, 8; Doc. No. 8 at 1; Doc. No. 18 at 1.) Plaintiff alleges that he should have served a sentence of “11 [months and] 29 days, ” but that he actually served about four years. (Doc. No. 1 at 5, 8; Doc. No. 8 at 1.) Plaintiff was released in early 2014. (Doc. No. 1 at 5, 8; Doc. No. 8 at 1.) According to Plaintiff, Judge Farris “use[d] to date [the mother of his child], ” who is “a white attractive female blonde.” (Doc. No. 5 at 1-2.) Plaintiff alleges that Judge Farris “and his co-workers hate to . . . see a blonde with a Black man, especially the one Judge Farris fell in love with.” (Id. at 2.) This makes it more difficult for Plaintiff to be “released anywhere.” (Id.)

         After Plaintiff's release, Robert Baggett “kept trying to suspend” Plaintiff's driver's license because he told Plaintiff that he owed $3, 175 to the state of Tennessee. (Doc. No. 1 at 4-5.) The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that Robert Baggett is the Franklin County Circuit Court Clerk.[1]

         2. Events Leading to Plaintiff's Second Period of Incarceration

         Plaintiff also alleges that he has experienced inappropriate conduct by members of Tennessee Highway Patrol (“THP”). Plaintiff had three alleged interactions with THP officers in 2014. First, Trooper Orr conducted a search of Plaintiff and his vehicle, and told Plaintiff that he would go to jail if Plaintiff did not sign a ticket for running a stop sign. (Id. at 10.) Plaintiff maintains that he was not guilty of this offense. (Id.) Second, Trooper Ula “touched [Plaintiff's] private parts.” (Id.) And third, Trooper Fraley conducted a stop of Plaintiff's vehicle as he was leaving a car wash, pulled on Plaintiff's pockets, and said “Why are [you] avoiding me and where are the pills at[?]” (Id.)

         In a seemingly unrelated matter, Plaintiff alleges that on October 22, 2015, he was in a car accident in Winchester, Tennessee. (Id. at 3; Doc. No. 9 at 1.) There is an unsettled insurance claim related to this accident. (Doc. No. 1 at 3; Doc. No. 9 at 1.)

         On March 10, 2016, Plaintiff alleges, a “tall blonde” THP officer stopped Plaintiff in Jasper, Tennessee (Doc. No. 1 at 10), while he was “walking to [his] grandmother's [residence].” (Id. at 8; Doc. No. 8 at 2; Doc. No. 18 at 1.) This unnamed trooper told Plaintiff he would “cut [Plaintiff loose]” if a driver's license check reflected that Plaintiff did not have any pending warrants. (Doc. No. 1 at 10.) After THP Trooper Stephens arrived at the scene, however, the other trooper “changed his whole story.” (Id.) WPD Officer Casey Boiling, who was also on the scene, called for backup and “8 to 10” officers soon arrived. (Doc. No. 8 at 2.) Boiling “claims [that Plaintiff] had bench warrants pending” at the time. (Doc. No. 1 at 8; Doc. No. 8 at 1; Doc. No. 18 at 1.) WPD Officer Chuck Stines arrested Plaintiff. (Doc. No. 8 at 1.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Judge Gram, a Circuit Court Judge serving the 12th Judicial District of Tennessee, set Plaintiff's bond at $5, 000 “for nothing.” (Doc. No. 1 at 5, 8; Doc. No. 8 at 1.) According to Plaintiff, he has a “Schedule II” charge in Circuit Court, but charges for “revoked license, evading, resisting, [and] assault” were dropped. (Doc. No. 1 at 3, 5, 8.)

         3. Conditions of Plaintiff's ...

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