United States District Court, D. New Jersey
SALAHUDDIN IGWE formerly known as MICHAEL A. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
DETECTIVE TAWAND SMITH, CAMDEN COUNTY, DETECTIVE SHAYQUIRA WILLIAMS, OFFICER MICHAEL PANTALON, and SERGEANT BRANDON KERSEY, Defendants.
H. RODRIGUEZ U.S.D.J.
matter is before the Court on Defendants' motion for
summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 [Doc. 32]. The
Court heard oral argument on the motion on March 13, 2018 and
the record of that proceeding is incorporated here. For the
reasons expressed on the record that day, as well as those
set forth below, the motion will be granted.
November the 19, 2014 at approximately 11:17 p.m. Officer G.
Lewis of the Camden County Police Department was in the City
of Camden patrolling when a woman approached the officer and
advised him she had just been subject to rape. He immediately
called for ambulance and she was taken to the hospital.
thereafter, officers from the Camden County Police Department
(“CCPD”) went to the hospital and obtained a
preliminary identification from the victim for her alleged
attacker. CCPD Detectives Shyquira Williams and Tawand Smith
responded and took a recorded statement from the victim. She
indicated that the individual had met her at the AM/PM mini
market at the corner of Mt. Ephraim and Kaighn Avenues and
they then proceeded to 1327 Lansdowne Avenue to smoke crack.
Instead, once they entered the abandoned building where the
man claimed to live, he brutally raped her for 27 minutes
while wielding a broom as a weapon. The woman remembered it
was 37 minutes because she counted to 60, 37 times during the
ordeal. She described this individual as a tall black male,
thin, dressed all in black, bearded, and wearing a black hat.
She also indicated that he had crooked teeth, appeared dirty,
and spoke “ghetto.”
about the same time, that information was communicated to
officers in the area where the victim had reported the crime.
Sergeant Brandon Kersey of the CCPD saw one individual
matching the description he had received of a black male
wearing all black with a black baseball cap; that individual
was the Plaintiff. He was walking up Lansdowne Avenue from
the direction where the crime had been committed and
proceeded directly in front of Kersey to go into the AM/PM
stopped Plaintiff and Officer Pantaleon detained him in his
patrol vehicle. Plaintiff was taken to the police station for
questioning. Upon arriving at the station, Plaintiff
exercised his Fifth Amendment right and refused to give a
statement. Plaintiff was then photographed. Smith ordered a
photo array from the sheriff's department to be presented
to the victim.
Officer Lucas Murray, who was not involved in the
investigation and was unaware which one of the eight
photographs he was carrying depicted the suspect, presented
the photo array to the victim in the hospital. Murray noted
that the victim looked through the photographs one at a time.
She saw the first photograph and said she thought that was
her attacker. Murray then asked the victim to continue to
look through the rest of the photographs, and when she got to
number 8, which was the Plaintiff, she changed her mind and
identified Plaintiff as her attacker. She then compared the
two photographs, 1 and 8, said, “I don't think
it's number 1, I think it's number 8.” The
officer then asked her to give him a percentage of which she
was comfortable with the identification; in other words, what
percent she was committed that this was the individual who
raped her about an hour prior. She identified Plaintiff as
her attacker with a 75% degree of certainty.
then communicated that information to Detective Smith. No
charges had been officially filed at that point, but
Plaintiff was being held for questioning. Detective Smith
consulted with the Camden County Prosecutor's Office
assistant prosecutor who was on duty that night and informed
him of the situation. She gave him the description, where
Plaintiff was apprehended, and the other information that had
been given by the victim and then the details of the photo
array. The assistant prosecutor advised Smith that there was
probable cause to arrest Plaintiff and instructed her to
charge Plaintiff with aggravated sexual assault and
possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Detective
Smith filed those two charges against the Plaintiff in
accordance with the Prosecutor's Office recommendation
to post bail, Plaintiff was transported to the Camden County
Correctional Facility on November 20, 2014 and remained there
until his March 7, 2015 release from custody because his
charges were dismissed. It was subsequently determined that
the victim did not wish to cooperate with maintaining the
investigation. Plaintiff has filed claims of unreasonable
search and seizure and malicious prosecution. Through
briefing on the instant summary judgment motion, he has
conceded his claims against Defendant Camden County, and
proceeds only against the individual Defendants.
judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material
fact and if, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party, the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Pearson v. Component
Tech. Corp., 247 F.3d 471, 482 n.1 (3d Cir. 2001)
(citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986)); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (a). Thus, the Court
will enter summary judgment in favor of a movant who shows
that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and
supports the showing that there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact by “citing to particular parts of
materials in the record, including depositions, documents,
electronically stored information, affidavits or
declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory
answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56
issue is “genuine” if supported by evidence such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the
nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is
“material” if, under the governing substantive
law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the
suit. Id. In determining whether a genuine issue of
material fact exists, the court must view the facts and all
reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587
the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party
has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by
affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is
a genuine issue for trial. Id.; Maidenbaum v.
Bally'sPark Place, Inc., 870 F.Supp. 1254,
1258 (D.N.J. 1994). Thus, to withstand a properly supported
motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must
identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that
contradict those offered by the moving party.
Andersen, 477 U.S. at 256-57. “A nonmoving
party may not ‘rest upon mere allegations, general
denials or . . . vague statements . . . ...