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Dawson v. Perkins

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division

January 23, 2019

JOHN HENRY DAWSON, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN M. PERKINS, Investigator, Richmond County Police Department, Defendant.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BKIAN K. EPFS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee at Charles B. Webster Detention Center in Augusta, Georgia, is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”) in this case filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 regarding events alleged to have occurred in Augusta, Georgia. Because he is proceeding IFP, Plaintiff's complaint must be screened to protect potential defendants. Phillips v. Mashburn, 746 F.2d 782, 785 (11th Cir. 1984); Al-Amin v. Donald, 165 Fed.Appx. 733, 736 (11th Cir. 2006).

         I. SCREENING OF THE COMPLAINT

         A. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff names as Defendant Richmond County Police Department Investigator John M. Perkins. (Doc. no. 1, pp. 1, 3.) Taking all of Plaintiff's allegations as true, as the Court must for purposes of the present screening, the facts are as follows.

         On December 9, 2017, Inv. Perkins responded to Plaintiff's home in reference to a disturbance. (Id. at 3.) Samuel Noling and Jennifer Bannister alleged they were robbed and struck about the head and body with a firewood log and a metal pole. (Id.) Inv. Perkins took two statements from each alleged victim, and their statements were inconsistent. (Id.) Inv. Perkins determined Mr. Noling and Ms. Bannister had active bench warrants for their arrest. (Id.) Inv. Perkins made an investigative note indicating he decided not to arrest Ms. Bannister because she had not yet sought medical treatment for her head wounds. (Id. at 4.) Inv. Perkins interviewed Mr. Noling at Augusta University Medical Center, where he was being treated for his injuries. (Id.) Inv. Perkins did not arrest Mr. Noling or explain the basis for his decision not to do so. (Id.)

         Shalisa Tyler, Plaintiff's girlfriend, informed Inv. Perkins that Mr. Noling used his head to strike her upper lip and struck her elbow. (Id.) Mr. Noling was never charged. (Id.) Ms. Bannister informed Inv. Perkins that Ms. Tyler began striking the passenger side of Mr. Noling's truck with a metal pole, so Mr. Nolan got out of the truck to make Ms. Tyler stop. (Id.) Windy Sherman, a witness, informed Inv. Perkins she did not see Plaintiff take anything from Mr. Noling. (Id.) Ms. Tyler informed Inv. Perkins she did not see Plaintiff carrying anything when he ran away. (Id.) Inv. Perkins intentionally discriminated against Plaintiff and Ms. Tyler. (Id.)

         On January 30, 2018, a true bill of indictment was returned charging Plaintiff and Ms. Tyler with armed robbery and aggravated assault. (Id. at 5.) Inv. Perkins appeared as a witness for the state. (Id.) On May 15, 2018, Plaintiff and Ms. Tyler were re-indicted for armed robbery and aggravated assault. (Id.)

         Plaintiff feels “like race has a lot to do with his case” and asserts this would not have happened to a white man on private property. (Id.) People assume black people are “thugs, gangsters, criminals, and illiterate . . . .” (Id.) Plaintiff was indicted despite exculpatory accounts of the events, did not receive a preliminary hearing, and has been held without bond since March 15, 2018. (Id.) Plaintiff wrote his “public defender attorney” asking him to file motions to inspect the grand jury minutes, dismiss the indictment, and seek discovery and Brady materials. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff's counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel in his criminal case. (Id.)

         As relief, Plaintiff seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction ordering his release, compensatory damages for lost wages, punitive damages, court costs, and any additional relief the Court deems just, proper, and equitable. (Id. at 7.)

         B. DISCUSSION

         1. Legal Standard for Screening

         The complaint or any portion thereof may be dismissed if it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune to such relief. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A(b). A claim is frivolous if it “lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). “Failure to state a claim under § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) is governed by the same standard as dismissal for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).” Wilkerson v. H & S, Inc., 366 Fed.Appx. 49, 51 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing Mitchell v. Farcass, 112 F.3d 1483, 1490 (11th Cir. 1997)).

         To avoid dismissal for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the allegations in the complaint must “state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). That is, “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. While Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not require detailed factual allegations, “it demands more than an unadorned, the defendant unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint is insufficient if it “offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action, '” or if it “tenders ‘naked assertions' devoid of ‘further factual ...


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