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Robert Mitchell v. Township of Willingboro

July 26, 2011

ROBERT MITCHELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF WILLINGBORO
MUNCIPALITY GOVERNMENT, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jerome B. Simandle

OPINION

SIMANDLE, District Judge

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Robert Mitchell, proceeding without a lawyer, seeks to bring this action in forma pauperis pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915, attempting to assert claims for deprivation of constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the following Defendants in both their individual and official capacities, as relevant: the Township of Willingboro, the Township of Willingboro Police Department, the Township Manager (who is unnamed in the caption but identified in the Complaint as Joanne Jennings), the Township Director of Public Safety (who is unnamed in the caption but identified in the Complaint as Gregory Rucker), the Township Police Captain (who is unnamed in the caption but identified in the Complaint as Donna C. Demetri), and the Township Police Officer involved in the stop (who is unnamed in the caption but identified in the Complaint as Officer Jeffrey Perez), alleging violations of his constitutional rights. Most of Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and so the Court will dismiss those portions without prejudice to refiling an amended complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii). Since the Complaint does state a Fourth Amendment claim against Officer Perez sufficient to survive this initial screening, the Court will order the Complaint to be served upon Officer Perez.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following factual allegations are taken from

Plaintiff's Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of this review:

Plaintiff filed this action based on a police stop of his vehicle that resulted in his arrest because of outstanding warrants against him. Plaintiff claims that the officer stopping his vehicle lacked reasonable suspicion for the stop, and that he was stopped because of racial profiling, describing himself as a "Black Afro-American Male Citizen." Compl. 6B.

Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that on July 3, 2010 he was driving in the Township of Willingboro with his son and son‟s girlfriend. Id. at 6C. They were in a green 1993 Honda Accord owned by Plaintiff's wife. Id. Plaintiff alleges that he did not speed or otherwise break any traffic laws. Id. at 6D, 6E. Plaintiff alleges that the officer who stopped him explained that he received a 911-dispatch call regarding a four-door, blue Honda Accord with no rear license plate and, therefore, stopped Plaintiff's car. Id. at 6G. Plaintiff notes that his two-door Honda Accord is green and had a State of Pennsylvania rear license plate. Id.

Plaintiff did not have his driver's license with him, and when the officer performed a warrant check, central dispatch reported that outstanding warrants existed on Plaintiff‟s record. Id. at 6H. Plaintiff was arrested and brought to the Willingboro Township Police Department for booking. Id. at 6I. Plaintiff was issued a ticket for operating a motor vehicle on an expired driver's license. Id. Plaintiff claims the officer falsified the summons to show the car as being blue instead of green. Id.

Plaintiff alleges that there was no 911-dispatch call to be on the lookout for a blue Honda Accord, and that the officer merely invented this pretext to cover up for a stop based on racial profiling. Id. at 6J. Plaintiff brings this suit against the municipality, the municipal police department, the township manager, the director of public safety, the police captain, and the municipal police officer involved in the stop. Id. at 4A-G.

As to Defendants other than the police officer, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have a policy of racial profiling and racial discrimination and that they "failed to order officer involved to attend a interview and hearing to avoid a conflict of interest," without clarifying what he means by that. Id. at 4A--E; 6L.

Plaintiff characterizes his claim as a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Id. at 6N, 6O.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of ...


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