United States District Court, D. New Jersey
DYLAN J. HOWARD, Plaintiff,
PTL. JORGE REYES, B.P.D., et al., Defendants.
MICHAEL VAZQUEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Dylan J. Howard, proceeding pro se, seeks to bring a
federal civil rights complaint. At this time,  the Court must
review Mr. Howard's pleading, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A, to determine whether it
should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to
state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it
seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
reasons set forth below, the following claims may now
proceed: (1) Howard's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 unlawful
search claim against all four Borough of Butler Police
Department (“BPD”) officers named in his
complaint, i.e., Patrolman Kyle G. Fontanazza,
Patrolman Jorge Reyes, Lieutenant Scott T. Ricker, and
Patrolman Scott Sinopoli; and (2) his § 1983 excessive
force claim against Patrolman Jorge Reyes. All other claims
in Howard's pleading are dismissed without prejudice.
Howard's complaint formally identifies Fontanazza, Reyes,
Ricker, and Sinopoli - and those four individuals only - as
defendants. (DE 1.) The Court accepts the incredibly
limited factual allegations in Howard's pleading,
detailed below, as true for purposes of the present
March 31, 2016, BPD Patrolmen Fontanazza, Sinopoli, Reyes,
and their supervising officer, Lieutenant Ricker, all
responded to a call at Howard's home. (Id. at
3.) On that date, all four officers entered Howard's
residence under false pretenses, and did so without a
warrant, permission, or any other valid authorization.
(Id. at 3, 4.) Upon entering, Reyes, then
accompanied by Ricker, went to Howard's bedroom where
Reyes, without probable cause, shot Howard four times in the
torso with his BPD-issued firearm. (Id. at 3.)
four named defendants thereafter - at the direction of Ricker
- falsely stated in their respective police reports that
Howard's grandmother, Ann King, who lived with Mr. Howard
at his residence, gave them permission to enter.
(Id.) In addition, “all [four officers] failed
to secure the crime scene properly and tampered with evidence
by contaminating and removing objects from the
residence.” (Id.) Moreover, Reyes, Ricker,
Fontanazza, and Sinopoli each violated BPD protocol by
failing to activate their body microphones before entering
Howard's home. (Id.)
- in conclusory fashion - alleges that the foregoing actions
violated a number of his rights under the Fourth, Fifth,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134,
§§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (Apr. 26,
1996) (“PLRA”), district courts must review
complaints in those civil actions in which a prisoner is
proceeding in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C. §
1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental employee
or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b), or brings
a claim with respect to prison conditions, see 42
U.S.C. § 1997e. The PLRA directs district courts to
sua sponte dismiss any claim that is frivolous, is
malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §
legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to
state a claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii)
is the same as that for dismissing a complaint pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).” Schreane
v. Seana, 506 Fed.Appx. 120, 122 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing
Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir.
2000)); Mitchell v. Beard, 492 Fed.Appx. 230, 232
(3d Cir. 2012) (discussing 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c)(1));
Courteau v. United States, 287 Fed.Appx. 159, 162
(3d Cir. 2008) (discussing 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)). That
standard is set forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662 (2009) and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544 (2007), as explicated by the United States Court of
Appeals for the Third Circuit.
survive the Court's screening for failure to state a
claim, the complaint must allege ‘sufficient factual
matter' to show that the claim is facially plausible.
See Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d
Cir. 2009) (citation omitted). “A claim has facial
plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Fair Wind Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303,
308 n.3 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678). “[A] pleading that offers ‘labels or
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). A complaint may also be dismissed for
failure to state a claim if it appears “‘that the
plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim
which would entitle him to relief.”' Haines v.
Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 521 (1972) (quoting Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957)); Milhouse v.
Carlson, 652 F.2d 371, 373 (3d Cir. 1981). Pro
se pleadings are liberally construed. See
Haines, 404 U.S. at 520-21. Nevertheless, “pro
se litigants still must allege sufficient facts in their
complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay
Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation