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Omar v. Weyker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 9, 2017

LIBAN SHARIF OMAR, 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 Liban Sharif Omar alleges violations of his constitutional rights in an investigation that led to his indictment by a federal grand jury and subsequent arrest. 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 L. Omar'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 pursuant to Rule 12(c). Dkt. No. 47.

         The investigation at the core of L. Omar'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”). L. Omar 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 L. Omar'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), and will not repeat that opinion's discussion verbatim here. L. Omar, 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, 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 L. Omar's Second Amended Complaint and some facts gleaned from the Tennessee Case record.[2]

         On October 20, 2010, L. Omar was indicted in the Tennessee Case. SAC ¶ 11. He was charged in ten counts. See Indictment (“Ind't”), United States v. Omar, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 3 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 20, 2010); see also SAC ¶ 15 (alleging that he was charged with, “among other things, conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor . . . ”). Two counts alleged participation in a sex-trafficking conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) (Counts 1 and 2). Two counts alleged recruitment or attempted recruitment of a minor (Jane Doe Two) for sex trafficking (Counts 12 and 13). Two counts, Counts 3 and 4, alleged obstruction of justice. Count 15 alleged that from May 20, 2006, through September 15, 2006, L. Omar conspired to transport stolen money and goods across state lines in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2314. Ind't ¶¶ 100, 102-06. Count 16 alleged that he conspired to transport a stolen vehicle in interstate commerce in February 2010. Ind't ¶¶ 107, 110. Count 17 alleged that in February 2010, he conspired to use a false identification in connection with stealing and transporting a vehicle. Ind't ¶ 113. Finally, Count 18 alleged that from 2007 through September 2010, he conspired to commit credit card fraud. E.g., Ind't ¶¶ 117, 123-24, 137. A first superseding indictment included the same charges against him. See SAC ¶ 16.

         L. Omar was arrested on December 10, 2010, and detained until his release in March 2016. SAC ¶ 11.

         The sex-trafficking-related counts as against L. Omar exclusively involved the supposed witness-victim Jane Doe Two. SAC ¶ 17. “Jane Doe Two was the centerpiece of Weyker's fabricated case against Omar and others . . . .” 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 that L. Omar rented a hotel room in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 24, 2009, “to facilitate the prostituting of Jane Doe Two.” SAC ¶ 19; see Ind't ¶¶ 33-34. “It was alleged that Omar was present in the room.” SAC ¶ 19; see Ind't ¶ 34. “In the initial interviews with Weyker, Jane Doe Two stated she did not know Omar, ” but “[s]ubsequent interviews with Weyker resulted in Jane Doe Two stating Omar ‘looked familiar.” SAC ¶ 21. “After more collaboration with Weyker, Jane Doe Two stated Omar was with her, drunk, and lying with her on her bed in the AmericInn hotel room on April 24, 2009.” Id. L. Omar did not know Jane Doe Two before the indictment and was never in any hotel room with Jane Doe Two. SAC ¶ 22. “Omar never conspired with anyone to have Jane Doe Two engage in commercial sex. . . . Fabricated evidence formed the basis of this false allegation against Omar.” SAC ¶ 27. “There was never any such conspiracy and Omar never engaged in any attempt to have Jane Doe Two engage in commercial sex.” SAC ¶ 20.

         In addition, the charges that L. Omar “attempted to influence witnesses or victims to impede the case” were baseless. SAC ¶ 19. “There was no influencing of witnesses. Fabricated evidence formed the basis of false allegations against Omar.” SAC ¶ 20.

         In early 2012, as the parties in the Tennessee Case prepared for trial to begin in March, the district court granted a motion to sever some of the counts, including Counts 15 through 18, to be tried later. United States v. Omar, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 1395 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 16, 2012). In addition, L. Omar and some other defendants elected to be severed from the defendants who were preparing for trial on sex-trafficking-related charges. United States v. Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d 555, 559 (M.D. Tenn. 2012); see also SAC ¶ 37.

         In that Spring 2012 criminal trial, the jury acquitted six defendants fully but convicted three defendants on some counts. SAC ¶ 38. The district court then granted Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 motions for judgments of acquittal by the three convicted defendants, on the basis of a variance. See SAC ¶ 38; Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 579.

         After the trial, L. Omar moved for release from custody, and in February 2013, he was released on conditions. SAC ¶ 51. The district court's detention decision, however, was reversed on appeal. SAC ¶ 52; see United States v. Fahra, No. 13-5296, Dkt. No. 61-1 (6th Cir. Dec. 18, 2013) (submitted in this case at DOJ Reply Ex. BB). L. Omar “was consequently falsely imprisoned again on March 26, 2014.” SAC ¶ 52. The appeals court found that, among other facts, the weight of the evidence-including testimony and evidence presented at the detention hearings, and testimony at the Spring 2012 trial-and L. Omar's history and characteristics supported his continued detention. See DOJ Reply Ex. BB at 6-8. In March 2016, the Sixth Circuit decided an appeal of the ...


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