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Walker v. Middlesex Boro Police

November 9, 2005

RE: LEWIS C. WALKER
v.
MIDDLESEX BORO POLICE



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William J. Martini Judge

LETTER OPINION

Dear Litigants:

This matter comes before the Court on defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). There was no oral argument. Fed. R. Civ. P. 78. For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion is granted and plaintiff's complaint is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

This civil rights action arises from the arrest of plaintiff Lewis Walker by officers of the Middlesex Borough Police Department*fn1 on November 26, 2004. Walker was charged with carjacking, simple assault, aggravated assault, obstruction of administration of law, theft, possession of a controlled dangerous substance ("CDS"), possession of CDS within 1000 feet of a school zone, possession of CDS within 500 feet of a public park, possession of CDS in a motor vehicle, possession of CDS with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest. He was brought to Middlesex police headquarters. While there, he complained of having hurt his left hand from punching an individual during the night's events. He was offered medical assistance, but declined. Because of his injured hand, Walker was not fingerprinted. He also was not photographed. He was transported that night to the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center.

Patrolman Michael Rocca ("Ptl. Rocca") filled out an Arrest Report and Investigation Reports concerning the events surrounding Walker's arrest. Ptl. Rocca also wrote a narrative about the events, including a description of Walker's criminal acts and the discovery of fifty-four individually wrapped bags of cocaine in the car Walker was driving that night.

On December 2, 2004, Detective Keith Orts ("Det. Orts") of the Middlesex Borough Police Department went to Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center to take Walker's fingerprints and photograph. When Det. Orts attempted to take Walker's fingerprints, Walker complained that his left hand still hurt. When Det. Orts attempted to take Walker's photograph, Walker responded by stating, "Oh no, you should have taken my mug shot when the 'bullsh*t' incident occurred.'" (1/5/05 Suppl. Investigation Report). Det. Orts informed Walker that he would be back in four weeks when his hand would be healed to take his fingerprints and photograph. Det. Orts further informed Walker that if he refused to cooperate at that time, charges would be filed against him.

On January 5, 2005, Detective Stephen Johnson ("Det. Johnson") of the Middlesex Borough Police Department went to the correctional center to obtain Walker's fingerprints and photograph. Once again, Walker refused, stating, "You had your f**king chance, you should of printed me at your precinct." (1/14/05 Suppl. Investigation Report). As a consequence, additional charges were brought against Walker for obstructing the administration of law and refusing to be fingerprinted.

On or about July 5, 2005, Walker filed a civil rights action in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County. The complaint alleged violations of Walker's constitutional rights stemming from the Middlesex police officers' alleged failure to fingerprint and photograph him and their alleged failure to write a detailed report about the discovery of CDS. In August 2005, defendant removed the action to federal court and, subsequently, filed its motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

In deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) all allegations in the complaint must be taken as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 501 (1975); Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc., v. Mirage Resorts Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir. 1998). In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court may consider only the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of public record, and undisputedly authentic documents if the plaintiff's claims are based upon those documents. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). If, after viewing the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, it appears beyond doubt that no relief could be granted "under any set of facts which could prove consistent with the allegations," a court may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984); Zynn v. O'Donnell, 688 F.2d 940, 941 (3d Cir. 1982).

In the case of a pro se litigant, the court must "find that it is clear 'beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.'" Zynn v. O'Donnell, 688 F.2d 940, 941 (3d ...


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