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Gauldin v. Dyersburg City Police Department

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

August 15, 2019




         On March 1, 2019, Plaintiff Terrell Lee Gauldin, who is incarcerated at the Dyer County Jail (Jail) in Dyersburg, Tennessee, filed a pro se complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) The Court issued an order on March 6, 2019, granting leave to proceed in forma pauperis and assessing the civil filing fee pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(a)-(b). (ECF No. 4.) The Clerk shall record the Defendants as the Dyersburg Police Department (DPD), and Dyersburg Police Officers Mason McDowell and Chris Clements.

         Gauldin alleges that on June 20, 2018, he was at the apartment of a man named Anthony Taylor when police executed a search warrant. (ECF No. 1-1 at PageID 23.) The officers found marijuana in the apartment and charged Gauldin with its possession. (Id.) Because Gauldin had an active arrest warrant, the officers arrested him and took him to a different residence allegedly against his will. (Id.) Gauldin alleges that this residence “was not my parole address or my residence at all.”[1] (Id.) Gauldin alleges that he was charged with possessing the marijuana because he was “in proximity of it.” (Id.) Gauldin also alleges that Taylor was “in proximity of” seven shotgun shells allegedly found in a bedroom and should have been charged as a felon in possession of ammunition. (Id.) Gauldin suggests that it “seems like selective prosecution.” (Id.)

         Gauldin further alleges that, at the second apartment, Officer McDowell “try [sic] and charge me with some kind of drug paraphanelia [sic]” found in Taylor's apartment. (Id. at PageID 25.) Gauldin asked to be escorted to the police station, where he was taken after officers searched the second apartment. (Id.) Gauldin alleges that no officer asked him what had happened on June 9, 2018, though he does not explain the significance of that date. (Id.) He alleges that he has lost his job because of his incarceration. (Id.)

         Gauldin also details events that allegedly occurred on March 15, 2007. (Id. at PageID 26.) He alleges that he and two others were in his car at his uncle's house when Officers Clements and McDowell “hopped out on me and grabbed me” and tried to force Gauldin “down in some mud.” (Id.) When Gauldin refused, the officers started to hit him with “slap sticks” or “[b]atons” until Gauldin “ran off the scene because I was scared for my life.” (Id.) Gauldin alleges that “they didn't catch with me until another month or two.” (Id.) Gauldin alleges that Officer Clements signed off on “th[e] warrant with out even asking me what [sic] going on!”[2] (Id.)

         Gauldin seeks monetary damages against the officers. (ECF No. 1 at PageID 3.) He also wants the officers to be reprimanded “so they don't feel it is ok to continue this behavior with other arrestees in the future.” (Id.)

         The Court is required to screen prisoner complaints and to dismiss any complaint, or any portion thereof, if the complaint_

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B).

         In assessing whether the complaint in this case states a claim on which relief may be granted, the standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), as stated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-79 (2009), and in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007), are applied. Hill v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court accepts the complaint's “well-pleaded” factual allegations as true and then determines whether the allegations “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief.'” Williams v. Curtin, 631 F.3d 380, 383 (6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681). Conclusory allegations “are not entitled to the assumption of truth, ” and legal conclusions “must be supported by factual allegations.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although a complaint need only contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2), Rule 8 nevertheless requires factual allegations to make a “‘showing,' rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3.

         “Pro se complaints are to be held ‘to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers,' and should therefore be liberally construed.” Williams, 631 F.3d at 383 (quoting Martin v. Overton, 391 F.3d 710, 712 (6th Cir. 2004)). Pro se litigants, however, are not exempt from the requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Wells v. Brown, 891 F.2d 591, 594 (6th Cir. 1989); see also Brown v. Matauszak, 415 Fed.Appx. 608, 612, 613 (6th Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (affirming dismissal of pro se complaint for failure to comply with “unique pleading requirements” and stating “a court cannot ‘create a claim which [a plaintiff] has not spelled out in his pleading'” (quoting Clark v. Nat'l Travelers Life Ins. Co., 518 F.2d 1167, 1169 (6th Cir. 1975))).

         Gauldin filed his complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party ...

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