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Yusuf v. Weyker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 9, 2017

YASSIN ABDIRAHMAN YUSUF, Plaintiff,
v.
HEATHER WEYKER, in her individual capacity as a St. Paul Police Officer; JOHN BANDEMER, in his individual and official capacities as a St. Paul Police Sergeant; JOHN DOES 3-4, in their individual and official capacities as supervisory members of the St. Paul Police Department; THE CITY OF ST. PAUL, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JOAN N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Yassin Abdirahman Yusuf alleges violations of his constitutional rights in an investigation that led to his indictment by a federal grand jury and his subsequent arrest, a trial on some of the counts in which he was charged, his conviction on one count, and the setting aside of that conviction. He sues Defendants Heather Weyker, a police officer for the St. Paul Police Department in Minnesota; John Bandemer, a St. Paul Police Department sergeant who is alleged to have been Weyker's supervisor; John Does 3-4, who are allegedly supervisory St. Paul police officers; and the City of St. Paul (“St. Paul”). Weyker and Bandemer move to dismiss Yusuf's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim and on absolute and qualified immunity grounds. Dkt. No. 41. St. Paul moves on behalf of the City of St. Paul and John Does 3-4 for judgment on the pleadings. Dkt. No. 47.

         The investigation at the core of Yusuf's civil complaint targeted a suspected venture involving the sex-trafficking of minor girls across Minnesota, Tennessee, and Ohio. The investigation resulted in the criminal indictment of thirty people, mostly Somali, in the Middle District of Tennessee in 2010-2011 (“Tennessee Case”). Yusuf alleges that Weyker and Bandemer fabricated evidence about him and others throughout the investigation, resulting in a tainted indictment that was further corrupted by Weyker's continuing deception, and causing his arrest and detention without probable cause.

         Nineteen of Yusuf's co-defendants in the Tennessee Case bring separate suits similarly alleging constitutional violations, and a twenty-first person brings another related civil suit. The parties agreed to coordinated briefing on the Defendants' motions. The Court assumes familiarity with its fuller opinion in one of the related cases, Osman v. Weyker, et al., No. 16cv908 (“Osman Opinion”) (filed simultaneously herewith). Yusuf, coordinating with the other plaintiffs represented by his counsel, opposed the motions. See GBBS Pls.' Opp. to St. Paul Mot., Dkt. No. 52; GBBS Pls.' Opp. to DOJ Mot. to Dismiss (“GBBS DOJ Opp.”), Dkt. No. 55.

         The Court held a hearing on the motions on May 3, 2017, and now grants both motions.[1]

         II. APPLICABLE STANDARDS

         A motion to dismiss or a motion for judgment on the pleadings is appropriately granted “only when there is no dispute as to any material facts and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a [m]atter of law.” Greenman v. Jessen, 787 F.3d 882, 887 (8th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). To survive a Rule 12 motion, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted); Haney v. Portfolio Recovery Assocs., LLC, 837 F.3d 918, 924 (8th Cir. 2016), as amended (Dec. 27, 2016). See also Osman Op. 3-4.

         III. ALLEGATIONS

         Most of the allegations are similar to those alleged by Osman and summarized and analyzed in the Court's order in that case. See, e.g., Osman Op. 4-8. The Court briefly recounts some allegations in Yusuf's Second Amended Complaint and some facts gleaned from the Tennessee Case record.[2]

         Yusuf was arrested on November 8, 2010, after he was charged in a First Superseding Indictment (“FSI”) dated November 3, 2010. SAC ¶ 15. The indictment charged him with two counts of participation in a sex-trafficking conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) (Counts 1 and 2); one count of recruiting Jane Doe Two, a minor, to engage in commercial sex in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) (Count 12); and one count of attempt to recruit Jane Doe Two to engage in commercial sex (Count 13). SAC ¶ 15. In addition, Count 18 charged Yusuf with conspiring to commit credit card fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a). FSI ¶ 117, United States v. Yusuf, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 36 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 3, 2010). A Second Superseding Indictment was filed in May 2011 charging Yusuf in these same counts. See SAC ¶ 16; Yusuf, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 591.

         The sex-trafficking-related counts as against Yusuf exclusively involved the supposed witness-victim Jane Doe Two. SAC ¶ 17. “Jane Doe Two was the centerpiece of Weyker's and Bandemer's fabricated case against Yusuf . . . .” SAC ¶ 18. Weyker was the lead investigator on the case, and Bandemer was her supervisor in the St. Paul Police Department. SAC ¶ 14. The indictment included allegations about a trip that Yusuf took with Jane Doe Two and others in May 2007 from Minneapolis to Rochester, Minnesota, allegedly “for the purpose of charging persons money to engage in sex with Jane Doe Two.” SAC ¶ 19. “There was never any such conspiracy and Yusuf never engaged in any attempt to have Jane Doe Two engage in commercial sex. . . . Fabricated evidence formed the basis of this false allegation against Yusuf.” SAC ¶ 20. The indictment also alleged that Jane Doe Two engaged in commercial sex in connection with a road trip that she, Yusuf, and others took from Minneapolis to Nashville, Tennessee, in late April 2009. See SAC ¶¶ 22-26; FSI ¶¶ 43-45. “Fabricated evidence formed the basis of this false allegation against Yusuf, ” SAC ¶ 27, including false evidence regarding Jane Doe Two's age, SAC ¶¶ 26, 35.

         In early 2012, as the parties in the Tennessee Case prepared for trial, the district court granted a motion to sever some of the counts, including Count 18, to be tried later. United States v. Yusuf, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 1395 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 16, 2012).

         In April 2012, a criminal trial began in which Yusuf was tried on the four sex-trafficking-related counts in which he was charged. See SAC ¶ 37; United States v. Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d 555, 560 (M.D. Tenn. 2012). The jury acquitted him on Counts 2, 12, and 13, but found him guilty on Count 1. See SAC ¶ 38; Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 560.[3] He “would never have been indicted on sex trafficking charges, ” nor would he have ever been detained, nor convicted on Count 1, “had Weyker and Bandemer not fabricated evidence, cultivated and manipulated Jane Doe Two, manufactured testimony and misled federal authorities.” SAC ¶¶ 39-41. On December 19, 2012, “the district court granted Yusuf's [Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29] motion for judgment of acquittal on his sex trafficking conviction and conditionally granted a new trial on Jane Doe Two's age issue and the Government's violation of discovery orders.” SAC ¶ 53 (citing Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 583, 591).

         After the district court's order granting the Rule 29 motion, Yusuf moved for release from custody, and in February 2013, he was released on conditions. SAC ¶¶ 54-55. “The district court's decision, however, was reversed on appeal [] wherein the United States argued that the salacious nature of the charges warranted continued detention.” SAC ¶ 56. The appellate court noted that Yusuf had “rebutted the presumption of detention” but found that the relevant factors weighed overall in favor of detention. United States v. Fahra, No. 13-5296, Dkt. No. 61-1, at 6-8 (6th Cir. Dec. 18, 2013) (submitted in this case at DOJ Reply Ex. BB). These factors included evidence at the trial and testimony at the detention hearings, the fact that the jury convicted Yusuf on Count 1, his “significant criminal history, ” and “his post-release conduct-including numerous failed drug screens and another arrest.” Id. at 7. “Consequently, on December 18, 2013, [] Yusuf was falsely imprisoned again.” SAC ¶ 56. He then remained in custody until March 2016, when the Sixth Circuit decided an appeal of the order granting Yusuf's Rule 29 motion. See SAC ¶ 57; see also United States v. Fahra, 643 Fed.Appx. 480 (6th Cir. Mar. 2, 2016). Yusuf was released from custody on March 4, 2016. SAC ¶ 59.[4]

         Like Osman, Yusuf alleges that the charges of a wide-ranging sex-trafficking conspiracy were baseless and that Weyker fabricated “the overwhelming majority of material evidence supporting his indictment for sex trafficking, ” SAC ¶ 29; that Weyker manipulated and coerced Jane Doe witnesses, including Jane Doe Two, into lying, SAC ¶¶ 28, 31, 33, 39-41; that Weyker was motivated to falsify evidence by a desire for professional success, see SAC ¶ 14; and that indications of Weyker's fabrication included her rough notes, SAC ¶¶ 34, 42-43, questions surrounding Jane Doe Two's age, SAC ¶¶ 22, 26, questions surrounding Jane Doe Two's April 2009 trip to Nashville, SAC ¶¶ 25, 34, and the district court's grant of Yusuf's Rule 29 motion, SAC ¶ 53. Also like Osman, Yusuf's complaint cites to remarks about Weyker and the case by the district and appellate courts in the Tennessee Case. SAC ¶¶ 22, 25, 30 n.1, 34, 42, 44-45.

         IV. SUMMARY OF ARGUMENTS

         The Court summarizes the parties' arguments to provide context. The arguments are similar to those described in the Osman Opinion, see Osman Opp. 8-10, but because Yusuf is represented by different ...


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