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Omar v. Weyker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 9, 2017

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.




         Plaintiff Mohamed 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 M. 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 M. 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”). M. 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 M. 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. M. 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]


         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.


         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 M. Omar's Second Amended Complaint and some facts gleaned from the Tennessee Case record.[2]

         On October 20, 2010, M. Omar was indicted in the Tennessee Case. SAC ¶ 12. He was arrested on November 8, 2010, after a First Superseding Indictment (“FSI”) was filed, which charged him in six counts. See FSI, United States v. Omar, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 36 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 3, 2010); see also SAC ¶¶ 12 (arrest date), 16 (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, Counts 3 and 4, alleged obstruction of justice. Count 11 alleged recruitment from December 2005 through June 2008 of a minor (Jane Doe One) to engage in commercial sex. Finally, Count 15 alleged that from May 20, 2006, through September 15, 2006, M. Omar conspired to transport stolen money and goods across state lines in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2314. FSI ¶ 100.[3]

         The sex-trafficking-related counts as against M. Omar “primarily involved” the supposed witness-victim Jane Doe One. SAC ¶ 18. The allegations also connected M. Omar to Jane Doe Two, who “was the centerpiece of Weyker's and Bandemer's fabricated case against Omar and others . . . .” SAC ¶¶ 20-21. Weyker was the lead investigator on the case, and Bandemer was her supervisor in the St. Paul Police Department. SAC ¶ 15.

         The indictment also charged M. Omar with obstructing justice, including alleging that he told co-defendant Haji Osman Salad in May 2009 that “he knew a relative of Jane Doe Two and would be talking to him that night.” FSI ¶ 76.

         “Omar never engaged in any attempt to have Jane Doe Two engage in commercial sex. There was simply no intention, desire or expectation that Jane Doe Two would engage in commercial sex.”[4] SAC ¶ 22; see also SAC ¶ 26. “There was no influencing of witnesses. Fabricated evidence formed the basis of the false allegations against Omar.” SAC ¶ 22.

         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 Count 15, to be tried later. United States v. Omar, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 1395 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 16, 2012). In addition, M. Omar and some other defendants elected to be severed from the defendants 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 ¶ 38.

         In that Spring 2012 criminal trial, the jury acquitted six defendants fully but convicted three defendants on some counts. SAC ¶ 39. 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 ¶ 39; Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 579.

         After that trial, in August 2012, a Third Superseding Indictment was filed. That indictment removed all of the “facts/allegations relating specifically to Jane Doe One, ” but did include a “passing reference to Jane Doe Two and Omar . . . .” SAC ¶ 18. The counts in which M. Omar was charged in the Third Superseding Indictment included Count 16 for conspiracy to transport stolen goods and Count 19 for credit-card fraud conspiracy. See United States v. Omar, 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 2701 (M.D. Tenn. Aug. 22, 2012).

         Also after the trial, M. Omar moved for release from custody, and he was released on conditions. SAC ¶ 53. The district court's detention decision, however, was reversed on appeal. SAC ¶ 54; 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). The appellate court found that, among other facts, the weight of the evidence-including testimony and evidence presented at the detention hearings, and testimony at the April 2012 trial-and M. Omar's history and characteristics supported his continued detention. See DOJ Reply Ex. BB at 6-8. M. Omar “was consequently falsely imprisoned again on March 26, 2014.” SAC ¶ 54. He then remained in custody until January 12, 2016, when he was released on home monitoring pending trial. See SAC ¶ 55.[5] He was finally fully released from ...

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