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Summerville v. Gregory

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 29, 2019

STANLEY SUMMERVILLE, FOMBAH SIRLEAF, Plaintiffs,
v.
DETECTIVE SERGEANT M. GREGORY, et at, Defendants.

          OPINION

          HON. KEVIN MCNULTY, J.

         This constitutional tort action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arises from an allegedly unconstitutional detention of the plaintiffs, Stanley Summerville and Fombah Sirleaf, by several New Jersey State Troopers. Plaintiffs allege that the officers confronted and detained them without reasonable suspicion, in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights, and on the basis of racial profiling. As a result of apt concessions by the plaintiffs, I focus here on the claims against Detective Michael Gregory, the officer in command of the operation, and to some extent Det. Sgt. P. Ciano.[1]

         The police have a difficult job. When they make on-the-spot decisions they do not, like a judge reviewing the matter, have the benefit of leisure, legal research, and hindsight. The reasonable-suspicion standard and qualified immunity thus give the police a certain amount of leeway to investigate facts, falling short of probable cause to arrest, that may (as here) turn out to be wholly innocuous. Anyone who has ever surfed the internet can understand how a simple search for information, initially intended to be brief, can stretch into 30, 60, or 90 minutes. Still, I must conclude that the detention here, even assuming it was based on reasonable suspicion (which remains a contested factual issue), was too long and severe an intrusion on the privacy and dignity of these two innocent persons.

         Now before the Court are the defendants' motion for summary judgment (DE 114) and plaintiffs' cross motion for summary judgment (DE 117). For the reasons described below, I will grant in part and deny in part both sides' motions.[2]

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiffs filed their initial complaint on December 9, 2014, naming the New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Trooper John Does 1-10, Universal Protection Service, and JG Elizabeth LLC. (DE 1). On February 18, 2015, plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint, adding the (now former) Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, Col. Joseph R. Fuentes, and removing as defendants the New Jersey State Police, Universal Protection Service, and JG Elizabeth LLC. (DE 11). After exchange of certain discovery, plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint on May 14, 2015, which replaced the John Doe State Troopers with Lieutenant J. Harrison and Detectives M. Gregory, J. Gauthier, P. Ciano, E. Bobal, T. Kelshaw, R. Joaquin, and P. Chariamonte. (DE 17).

         On August 10, 2015, plaintiffs filed their third amended complaint (for purposes of this Opinion, the "Complaint," cited as "Comp. ¶ "). (DE 33). The current Complaint asserts two § 1983 causes of action: (1) false imprisonment and false arrest (Comp. ¶¶ 84-97); and (2) racial profiling and selective enforcement. (Id. ¶¶ 130-135). Both are asserted against the individual defendant police officers only.

         On January 4, 2019, all remaining defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. (DE 114). On March 1, 2019, plaintiffs filed an opposition and cross motion for summary judgment. (DE 117).

         B. Facts

         Defendant Michael Gregory is a detective sergeant of the New Jersey State Police Organized Crime and Gangs Unit. Gregory oversaw the investigation of Richard Parker ("Parker"), a black male (race is relevant to the allegations), who was suspected of trafficking heroin. (DE 117-2 ¶ 6; DE 120-2 ¶ 6; DE 117-5 at 32, 37). Det. Gregory is a white male. (DE 117-2 ¶ 8; DE 120-2 ¶ 8). Det. Gregory supervised the October 8, 2014 surveillance operation of Parker and made all the pertinent decisions, including the decision to detain the plaintiffs. (DE 117-2 ¶ 12; DE 120-2 ¶ 12; DE 114-2 ¶ 31; DE 117-1 ¶ 31). The following officers assisted Det. Gregory in his surveillance of Parker: J. Harrison, P. Ciano, E. Bobal, T. Kelshaw, J. Gauthier, R. Joaquin, and P. Chariamonte.[3] (DE 117-2 ¶ 7; DE 120-2 ¶ 7; DE 117-5 at 32).

         In September 2014, Det. Gregory received information from a confidential source ("CS") that Parker was a black male in his mid-thirties who lived in Newark and was engaged in the distribution of heroin in New Jersey. (DE 117-5 at 3-9; DE 117-2 ¶ 5; DE 120-2 ¶ 5; DE 117-5 at 37). The CS also told Det. Gregory that Parker had served several years in state prison for a homicide, was on parole, frequently drove a white Lexus with a specific registration number during narcotics transactions, and often carried a handgun during those transactions. (DE 117-5 at 3, 4).

         To corroborate the CS's information, Det. Gregory searched Parker's name and registration number in law enforcement databases. (DE 117-5 at 4). These corroborated that the Lexus was registered in Parker's name, that he lived in Newark, that he was in his mid-thirties, and that he was on parole from a murder sentence. (Id.). Det. Gregory showed the CS a photograph of Parker from the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles, which the CS identified as the person the CS had been referring to. (Id.).

         Subsequently, in October 2014, Det. Gregory met with the CS to monitor a telephone conversation between the CS and Parker. During the call, the CS held the phone so that Det. Gregory could listen to the conversation. (DE 117-5 at 4). Det. Gregory heard the CS and Parker discuss the sale of heroin. (Id.). Det. Gregory certified in an affidavit that he learned from the CS that on October 8, 2014, Parker would be transporting 200 bricks of heroin to a location in Ocean County, New Jersey, for sale. (DE 114-6 at 60).[4]

         Det. Gregory then used a law enforcement database to find Parker's place of employment in Elizabeth, New Jersey. (DE 117-5 at 4). On October 7, 2014, Det. Gregory and Det. Joaquin established surveillance of Parker's vehicle at that location. (Id.; DE 117-2 ¶ 17; DE 120-2 ¶ 17). Parker eventually got in his car and drove off, but the detectives were unable to follow him on the highway because of the traffic conditions and Parker's high rate of speed. (Id.).

         The next day, October 8, 2014, Det. Gregory continued his surveillance of Parker with a team of seven other officers, as well as members of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, starting at Parker's place of employment. (DE 117-5 at 4-5, 33; DE 122-1 ¶ 5). As part of their tactical plan to follow Parker, the officers continued their surveillance of him when he left his place of employment around 3:00 P.M. and drove to his Newark apartment. (Id., ). Around a half hour later, Parker left his apartment and drove to the Jersey Gardens shopping mall[5] in Elizabeth, New Jersey, while under constant surveillance. (Id.). Det. Gregory did not know in advance that Parker was heading to Jersey Gardens but followed him there with the surveillance team. (Id. at 33, 39).

         Fombah Sirleaf is related to Liberia's then-president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Fombah Sirleaf was the head of Liberia's national law enforcement organization. (Id. at 39; DE 117-2 ¶ 3; DE 120-2 ¶ 3). Around 2010, Sirleaf worked undercover for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as part of a successful law enforcement initiative to dismantle an international drug trafficking organization that sought to route drugs through, among other countries, Liberia and the United States. (See DE 117-8 at 49-54). There is no indication, however, that the officers who detained him knew these background facts, which do not figure in the Fourth Amendment analysis.

         Plaintiffs Stanley Summerville and Fombah Sirleaf, both adult males, are lawful green-card residents of the United States. (DE 117-8 at 38, 44, 45). In October 2014, Sirleaf came to the United States from Liberia to purchase military equipment in his official capacity as a member of the Liberian government. (DE 117-8 at 39; DE 117-2 ¶ 3; DE 120-2 ¶ 3). On October 8, 2014, Sirleaf and Summerville, who are friends, were shopping together at the Jersey Gardens shopping mall. (DE 117-2 ¶¶ 2, 40-41; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 2, 40-41; DE 117-8 at 39, 44, 45). Prior to visiting the mall, Sirleaf purchased around $1, 000 worth of various over-the-counter pharmaceutical items that he intended to bring back to Liberia to assist with the Ebola epidemic. (Id.; DE 114-6 at 62, 77).

         At about 3:31 p.m., Sirleaf and Summerville purchased two suitcases from Marshalls, a store inside the mall. They then exited from the mall and walked to their car, a black Mercedes SUV, in the mall parking lot. (DE 117-8 at 39, 40, 44; DE 117-2 ¶¶ 1-4; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 1-4). There, they spent about 10 minutes rearranging their things, including the pharmaceutical items, and placing them in the two new suitcases that they had just purchased. (DE 117-8 at 40, 44). They placed the suitcases in the trunk of the car and walked back and forth between the seating areas of the car and the trunk as they rearranged the items. (See Video).

         As plaintiffs were reorganizing the items in their luggage, Parker pulled his car into a parking spot. Parker's spot was located across a driving lane and about 30 feet down from the plaintiffs' spot. (DE 117-2 ¶¶ 46, 92; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 46, 92; Video).

         Parker parked his car next to another car, a grey Mountaineer, that was already parked. (DE 117-5 at 44-45). The occupant of the Mountaineer got out and got inside Parker's car. (Id. at 45). That person did not communicate or make any contact with the plaintiffs. (Id. at 45). After entering Parker's car and remaining there for around 20 seconds, that person got out of Parker's car, got back into the Mountaineer, and drove out of the parking lot, never to be seen again. The Mountaineer driver was not detained or arrested, and the officers did not even record the license plate number of the Mountaineer. (Id. at 45, 49, 52; Video at 1:45-2:45; DE 117-2 ¶ 73; DE 120-2 ¶ 73). About a minute later, Parker was arrested in the Jersey Gardens parking lot by Det. Kelshaw. (DE 117-5 at 45, 47). The officers searched Parker's vehicle and uncovered a duffel bag that contained 200 bricks of heroin and $1, 400 in cash. (DE 114-2 ¶ 31; DE 117-1 ¶ 31).

         Det. Gregory pulled into an adjacent area of the parking lot about 15 seconds after Parker pulled into the parking lot. (DE 117-5 at 33, 45; Video at 1:20-40). Gregory's car was located approximately 300 feet from the plaintiffs' car and 330 feet from Parker's car. (DE 117-2 ¶¶ 53, 54; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 53, 54). As Det. Gregory was surveilling Parker, Gregory could see the plaintiffs at the rear of their Mercedes SUV moving between the sides of the car and the trunk. (DE 117-5 at 40, 41). When Gregory first saw the plaintiffs standing behind their vehicle, he thought that Parker might have been going to meet them. (DE 117-2 ¶ 97; DE 120-2 ¶ 97). Gregory saw plaintiffs taking items out and putting items into their suitcases, but he did not see what the items were. (Id. at 44). Det. Gregory did not observe Parker communicating with the plaintiffs at all; he did not see them approach Parker or vice versa. (Id. at 44). Det. Gregory did not see plaintiffs using their cell phone and never saw them move away from the immediate area of their parked car. (DE 117-2 ¶¶ 60, 61; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 60, 61).

         At approximately the same time that the officers detained Parker, they also stopped plaintiffs. (DE 117-5 at 47). It was Det. Gregory who made the decision to stop the plaintiffs; he ordered the other officers to do it. (Id. at 47). Det. Gregory drove toward the plaintiffs in his car, then got out of his car and jogged toward them with his gun drawn as he told them to show their hands. (Id. at 48, 54). Det. Guathier (also with his gun drawn) and Det. Chariamonte similarly approached the plaintiffs. (Id. at 54; DE 117-2 ¶ 110; DE 120-2 ¶ 110). The officers ordered the plaintiffs to lie down on the ground. (DE 117-5 at 48; DE 114-6 at 53-54, 106; Video). Det. Gregory frisked Sirleaf and Det. Gauthier frisked Mr. Summerville; no weapon was found. [Id. at 48). Det. Gregory handcuffed Mr. Sirleaf and Det. Gauthier handcuffed Mr. Summerville. (DE 117-2 ¶ 111; DE 120-2 ¶ 111; DE 114-6 at 53-54, 106; Video). At this point, at the latest, plaintiffs obviously were not free to leave. (Id. at 50).

         The officers then began to question the plaintiffs. (DE 117-5 at 49). According to his deposition testimony, Det. Gregory explained to Sirleaf that a drug deal had occurred directly across from them. He asked the plaintiffs whether they knew Parker, or the occupants of the other vehicles. (Id.; DE 114-6 at 55; DE 114-6 at 61).). The plaintiffs said that they did not. (DE 117-5 at 50). According to Mr. Sirleaf's deposition testimony, the officers repeatedly accused him of lying about whether he knew Parker and of lying to the Transportation Security Administration ("TSA") officials concerning whether he may be infected with the Ebola virus. (DE 117-8 at 41).

         Mr. Summerville is a U.S. resident who was born in Liberia but had resided in the U.S. for 29 years. (DE 114-2 at 9). Mr. Summerville provided the officers with a New Jersey driver's license. (DE 114-2 at 10). Mr. Sirleaf is a U.S. resident. He told the detective that he had traveled to the United States from Liberia the day before. (DE 114-2 at 10). Mr. Sirleaf provided the officers with a Pennsylvania driver's license but did not display his passport or green card because he had left them in his hotel room. (DE 114-2 at 10; DE 114-6 at 102).

         The officers and plaintiffs spoke for around 10 minutes before Det. Gregory presented Mr. Summerville with a consent to search form for his vehicle. (DE 114-6 at 62). Mr. Summerville freely consented to the search of his vehicle. (DE 114-6 at 112; DE 114-6 at 62; DE 117-8 at 41). The search took around 30 minutes. (DE 114-6 at 62). It did not yield weapons, drugs, or incriminating evidence. (DE 117-5 at 49; DE 117-2 ¶ 114; DE 120-2 ¶ 114). The vehicle search did yield the suitcases and approximately $1, 000 worth of over-the-counter medications. (DE 114-6 at 62). The plaintiffs provided Det. Gregory with the receipts for these items. (Id.). The police continued to question the plaintiffs, who remained in handcuffs. (DE 117-8 at 41).

         After the vehicle search, Detectives Gregory and Joaquin went to the mall's security office to review the surveillance video. It took about 10 minutes to get to the office from the parking area. (DE 114-2 at 11). The detectives were in the security office for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. The surveillance video confirmed that the plaintiffs were not involved in Parker's narcotics transaction. (Id.). The officers then removed the plaintiffs' handcuffs but did not release them. (DE 114-2 at 11). At this point, they had been in custody for about 60 minutes.

         At some point, Mr. Sirleaf had stated in response to questioning that he had arrived from Liberia the day before, was director of the national law enforcement organization in Liberia, was travelling to the U.S. to look at military equipment, and had assisted U.S. law enforcement in the past. (DE 114-6 at 102). Det. Friedenberger contacted an investigator with the Joint Terrorism Task Force ("JTTF") of the Federal Bureau of Investigation "to verify [Mr. Sirleafs] travels and what was going on" due to "Mr. Sirleaf not having any of his documents and the things that he stated to me." (Id.). The JTTF was able to verify Mr. Sirleafs travels and alleviate concerns regarding possible terrorist activity, which took the JTTF investigator approximately 30 minutes to do. (Id.).

         After a detention that lasted a total of about 90 minutes, the officers released the plaintiffs. The officers told them that a surveillance video showed that they did not have contact with Parker. (DE 117-8 at 41; DE 114-2 at 13; DE 117-2 at 36).

         I have reviewed the surveillance video (there is no audio). It shows plaintiffs in the mall parking lot maneuvering items in the trunk and walking between the doors of their black Mercedes SUV and the back of the car. (See Video). The surveillance video (or at least the usable, excerpted portion) is approximately 4 minutes long. When it begins, the plaintiffs are already next to their SUV rearranging the items in their suitcases. (Id. at 0:01; DE 122-1 ¶ 26). The Mountaineer can already be seen parked in the parallel row of spots across from the plaintiffs. Five people walk in a group through the parking lot and get into a car that is a few spots away from where the plaintiffs are standing. (Video at 0:46-1:50). Around a minute and a half into the surveillance video, Parker's white Lexus can be seen entering the parking lot and pulling into the spot directly next to the Mountaineer. (Id. at 1:20-33). Two seconds after Parker's car enters the parking lot, Det. Gregory's undercover vehicle and another officer's vehicle (a van and a pickup truck) can be seen entering the area, i.e., driving outside the periphery of the parking lot and making a left turn onto a lane that is part of the parking area and adjacent to the area where plaintiffs and Parker were located. (Id. at 1:20-40). From then on, Det. Gregory's vehicle cannot be seen in the video until the plaintiffs are detained.

         The video shows that a few seconds after Parker pulls into his spot, a person exits the Mountaineer and enters the passenger seat of Parker's white Lexus, remains there for approximately 20 seconds, gets back into the Mountaineer, and drives out of the mall parking lot. (Id. at 1:38-2:45; DE 117-2 ¶ 72; DE 120-2 ¶ 72). Throughout this time, plaintiffs continue arranging items in their trunk and walking between the passenger doors and trunk of their Mercedes SUV.

         About 15 seconds after the Mountaineer exits from the parking lot, Parker begins to pull his car out of his parking spot. (Video at 2:57). At this point, the surveillance camera turns away from the parking lot for about 10 seconds; all that can be seen is a tree which obstructs the view. (Id. at 2:59-3:12). When the camera turns back to the parking lot, Parker's white Lexus is out of its spot and waiting behind another vehicle. (Id. at 3:13). The plaintiffs are still consolidating the items in the trunk of their car. The camera again turns away from the parking lot, this time for approximately 25 seconds. (Id. at 3:20-45).

         When the camera turns back to the relevant area, Summerville can be seen with his hands in the air as an officer points a gun at him. (Video at 3:45-50). Two undercover police cars pull up to the plaintiffs' vehicle and three officers can be seen detaining Summerville. Sirleaf is out of view of the camera because he is on the far side of the Mercedes SUV, but Summerville can be seen getting down on the ground as the officers detain him. Parker can also be seen being detained near his white Lexus. (Id. at 3:51-55).

         Overall, the officers detained the plaintiffs for approximately 90 minutes, and they were handcuffed for about 60 minutes of that period. (DE 117-2 ¶ 117; DE 120-2 ¶ 117). Sirleaf at least concededly was not free to leave during the entire period.[6] (Id.). The plaintiffs assert that they suffered physical and emotional discomfort during this time. Neither plaintiff was treated by any kind of medical professional as a result of the detention. (DE 117-2 ¶¶ 118-20; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 118-20; DE 114-2 ¶¶ 67, 68; DE 117-1 ¶ 67, 68). The officers did not stop any other person besides the plaintiffs and Parker during the October 8, 2014 incident. (DE 117-5 at 51).

         Plaintiffs claim that there were white shoppers in the mall parking lot. (DE 117-2 ¶ 121; DE 120-2 ¶ 121). Specifically, Sirleaf certifies that during the 10-minute period in which the plaintiffs were loading items into their suitcases, there was a white shopper parked next to their vehicle loading purchases into his vehicle. This, he says, occurred minutes before the officers detained the plaintiffs. (DE 117-8 at 40 ¶ 17). In the surveillance video, however, no white shoppers can be seen. From the time that Parker pulled into the parking lot, the video shows no white shopper loading items into a car near the plaintiffs. (See Video). Sirleaf states that he also saw white shoppers at the time he was handcuffed. (DE 114-6 at 92, 94). The plaintiffs do not report hearing the officers utter any racial slurs. (Id. at 95).

         Det. Gregory stated during his deposition that he suspected there might have been countersurveillance or lookouts in the area of what he believed to be a drug transaction. In addition, he said, he suspected there could be someone else in the area to whom additional drugs or money would be delivered. (DE 117-5 at 49). According to Det. Gregory, those suspicions were based on the totality of information that he had acquired about Parker, such as the large quantity of narcotics and sum of money that could have been in play, as well as his background knowledge about these types of operations. (Id. at 49). Det. Gregory "wanted to detain Mr. Summerville and Sirleaf temporarily to ascertain if they were involved or not" in Parker's drug dealing. [Id. at 49). He initially thought that Parker was going to meet the plaintiffs when Parker pulled into the parking lot. (DE 117-5 at 44).

         Det. Gregory did not know who the plaintiffs were, but his suspicions became aroused when Parker "happened to pull [his car] directly across" from the plaintiffs. (Id. at 56). At the time he ordered the plaintiffs to be stopped, he had not ruled out the possibility that they had communicated with Parker through a cellphone or with hand signals. (Id. at 59). He had not seen this, however. According to Det. Gregory's deposition, race did not play any part in his suspicions, and he would have stopped white persons parked across from Parker whose actions were similar to those of plaintiffs. (Id. at 56).

         Det. Gregory wrote a New Jersey Police Investigative Report dated November 24, 2014[7] (the "Report") to memorialize this incident. (DE 117-5 at 3-9). That Report largely tracks the facts outlined above.[8] One potential inaccuracy within the Report that plaintiffs highlight is whether Det. Gregory was accurate when writing in the Report that it was "after observing the hand to hand transaction" between Parker and the person in the Mountaineer that he "requested that surveillance units initiate an investigative stop of Parker's vehicle and [the plaintiffs] to determine their involvement." (DE 117-5 at 5) (emphasis added). Plaintiffs assert that the officers did not view the "hand to hand transaction" in person but instead only learned of it afterward, when reviewing the surveillance video. Det. Gregory's deposition testimony on this point is equivocal. (See DE 117-5 at 45 ("Q: Is it fair to say that you saw what you described or what you thought was hand to hand? A: Yes. Q: Or later learned to be a hand to hand? A: Yes."); but see DE 117-5 at 49 (111:7-14)).

         Det. Sgt. Ciano, contradicting Det. Gregory, testified that the officers first learned that there was a hand to hand transaction between Parker and the person in the Mountaineer when they reviewed the surveillance video, i.e., after the officers had already detained the plaintiffs. (DE 117-2 ¶ 77; DE 120-2 ¶ 77; DE 117-6 at 11). Specifically, Det. Sgt. Ciano testified that the officers "didn't know [that Parker engaged in any transaction with the person in the Mountaineer] until after reviewing the surveillance video." It was when reviewing the video, he said, that "they noticed the hand to hand [between the person in the Mountaineer and Parker] and that [the plaintiffs] weren't involved." (DE 117-6 at 11 (34:15-35:14 ("Nobody knew whether your Plaintiffs were involved or not. That's why I said go see, go view [the surveillance video to] see what happened."))). This, said Ciano, was why there was no communication among the officers regarding the person in the Mountaineer: they did not realize Parker's interaction with the Mountaineer driver had occurred. (Id. ("Q: Is there any communications [between the officers] regarding the person that Parker was alleged to have conducted a hand to hand narcotics transaction? A: No, because we didn't know that until after reviewing the surveillance video.").

         Det. Sgt. Ciano's testimony, then, is to some degree inconsistent with Det. Gregory's testimony and Report. (DE 120-2 ¶ 79).

         Officers Ciano, Harrison, Friedenberger, and Kelshaw did not see any conduct related to the plaintiffs prior to the plaintiffs' detention. (DE 117-2 ¶¶ 68, 69; DE 120-2 ¶¶ 68, 69). When Detectives Joaquin and Bobal arrived at the mall, the other officers had already detained the plaintiffs. (DE 117-2 ¶ 70; DE 120-2 ¶ 70). Det. Gauthier did not see the plaintiffs engage in any criminal behavior or do anything suspicious. (DE 117-7 at 30, 33; DE 117-2 ¶ 63; DE 120-2 ¶ 63). State Police Col. Fuentes, who was not present, had no knowledge or involvement with the events that transpired between the officers, the plaintiffs, and Parker on October 8, 2014. (DE 114-2 ¶ 77; DE 117-1 ¶ 77).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that summary judgment should be granted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Kreschollek v. S. Stevedoring Co., 223 F.3d 202, 204 (3d Cir. 2000). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, a court must construe all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See Boyle v. Cty. of Allegheny Pa., 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998). The moving party bears the burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact remains. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). "[W]ith respect to an issue on which the nonmoving party bears the burden of proof . . . the burden on the moving party may be discharged by 'showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Id. at 325.

         Once the moving party has met that threshold burden, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The opposing party must present actual evidence that creates a genuine issue as to a material fact for trial. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c) (setting forth the types of evidence on which a nonmoving party must rely to support its assertion that genuine issues of material fact exist). "[Unsupported allegations . . . and pleadings are insufficient to repel summary judgment." Schoch v. First Fid. Bancorp., 912 F.2d 654, 657 (3d Cir. 1990); see also Gleason v. Norwest Mortg., Inc., 243 F.3d 130, 138 (3d Cir. 2001) ("A nonmoving party has created a genuine issue of material fact if it has provided sufficient evidence to allow a jury to find in its favor at trial."). If the nonmoving party has failed "to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial, . . . there can be 'no genuine issue of material fact,' since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Katz v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 972 F.2d 53, 55 n.5 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23).

         When the parties file cross-motions for summary judgment, the governing standard "does not change." Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Stevens & Ricci, Inc., 835 F.3d 388, 401 (3d Cir. 2016) (citing Appelmans v. City of Phila., 826 F.2d 214, 216 (3d Cir. 1987)). The court must consider the motions independently, in accordance with the principles outlined above. Goldwell of N.J., Inc. v. KPSS, Inc., 622 F.Supp.2d 168, 184 (D.N.J. 2009); Williams v. Philadelphia Housing Auth., 834 F.Supp. 794, 797 (E.D. Pa. 1993), affd, 27 F.3d 560 (3d Cir. 1994). That one of the cross-motions is denied does not imply that the other must be granted. For each motion, "the court construes facts and draws inferences in favor of the party against whom the motion under consideration is made" but does not "weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations" because "these tasks are left for the fact-finder." Pichler v. UNITE, 542 F.3d 380, 386 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal quotation and citations omitted); see also Big Apple BMW, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 974 F.2d 1358, 1363 (3d Cir. 1992).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Section 1983 does not create a substantive right but instead provides a remedy for the violation of rights created by federal law. 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 471 U.S. 808, 816, 105 S.Ct. 2427, 2432, 85 L.Ed.2d 791 (1985). A prima facie case under § 1983 requires a plaintiff to demonstrate that: (1) a person deprived him or her of a federal right; and (2) the person who deprived him or her of that right acted under color of state law. Groman v. Twp. of Manalapan, 47 F.3d 628, 633 (3d Cir. 1995) (citing Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640, 100 S.Ct. 1920, 1923 (1980)). There is no question here that the defendants were acting under color of state law; they are police officers who were acting in the course of their official investigatory duties.

         A. False Arrest / False Imprisonment

         1. The Fourth ...


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