United States District Court, D. Minnesota
N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Musse Ahmed Ali alleges violations of his constitutional
rights in an investigation that led to his indictment by a
federal grand jury and his 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; Robert Roes 1-3, who are allegedly
supervisory St. Paul police officers; and the City of St.
Paul (“St. Paul”). Weyker and Bandemer move to
dismiss Ali'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. 37. St.
Paul moves on behalf of the City of St. Paul and Robert Roes
1-3 for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c).
Dkt. No. 46.
investigation at the core of Ali'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”). Ali alleges that
Weyker 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.
of Ali'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, given the
overlap in allegations and arguments. Ali is represented by
the same attorneys as the plaintiff in that case, and their
attorneys filed consolidated opposition papers to the
Defendants' motions. See Osman Pls.' Opp. to
St. Paul Mot., Dkt. No. 51; Osman Pls.' Opp. to DOJ Mot.
to Dismiss (“Osman DOJ Opp.”), Dkt. No. 57.
Court held a hearing on the motions on May 3, 2017, and now
grants both motions.
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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); Haney v. Portfolio Recovery
Assocs., LLC, 837 F.3d 918, 924 (8th Cir. 2016), as
amended (Dec. 27, 2016). See also Osman Op.
the salient 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 Ali's First Amended
Complaint and other facts gleaned from the Tennessee Case
2009, Ali lived in Nashville, Tennessee. FAC ¶ 10. That
year, he “had a phone conversation with one or more of
his future, alleged co-conspirators, in which the other
person(s) on the call talked about a young woman they had met
recently in rather lewd terms, ” but not in a way that
could possibly serve as “evidence of the commercial
sex-trafficking of minors.” FAC ¶ 11. Yet Weyker,
who was the lead investigator on the case, FAC ¶ 33,
“made that phone call the central hook for alleging
that Ali had engaged in a conspiracy to commercially
sex-traffic” Jane Doe Two “and other alleged
minors, ” FAC ¶ 12.
Superseding Indictment was filed in the Tennessee Case on
November 3, 2010, naming 29 defendants. The indictment
alleged that Ali was an associate of members of two related
Minneapolis-based gangs. FSI ¶¶ 1(a)-(b), 1(e)
& 1(f). It charged Ali in three counts. Counts 1 and 2
alleged his participation in a sex-trafficking conspiracy in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a). Count 18 charged Ali
with conspiring to commit credit card fraud in violation of
18 U.S.C. §§ 1029(a)(1), 1029(a)(2), and
1029(a)(3). See First Superseding Indictment
(“FSI”), United States v. Ali, No.
3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 36 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 3, 2010) (submitted
as Ex. V in support of Weyker and Bandemer's Reply in
this civil case).
Counts 1 and 2, the indictment alleged that during a trip
from Minneapolis to Nashville by co-defendant Haji Osman
Salad, Jane Doe Two, and others in April 2009, Salad
“was to provide Jane Doe Two” to Ali “for
him to ‘enjoy, '” and that Ali “was to
assist in causing Jane Doe Two to engage in commercial sex
acts.” FSI ¶ 48. In addition, the indictment
alleged that around August 23, 2009, Ali had a conversation
with co-defendant Liban Sharif Omar in which L. Omar told him
“that in Tennessee a ‘little teenager girl came
up and she is hot' and was giving the ‘whole
block' oral sex.” FSI ¶ 64. Speaking with a
different person that same day, Ali allegedly recounted to
that person what L. Omar had told him about the girl. FSI
fraud charge in Count 18 alleged a conspiracy between 2007
through September 2010. FSI ¶ 117. The First Superseding
Indictment alleged that on August 23, 2009, Ali asked L. Omar
“how many cards and numbers” he had, and L. Omar
responded that he had “just got this one from Haji,
” which may have been a reference to Salad. FSI ¶
alleges that the sex-trafficking conspiracy charges were the
“core claims” against him. FAC ¶ 26.
“No such conspiracy existed, and Defendants knew
it.” Id. He has never met Jane Doe Two. FAC
¶ 13. He “had no intention, desire or expectation
that Jane Doe Two or anyone else engage in the exchange of
sex for money.” FAC ¶ 41. He never entered into
any agreement to sex-traffic persons, and Weyker knew it. FAC
¶ 43. “Weyker used falsified extensive documentary
evidence of Ali's involvement, and used a phone call that
did not incriminate Ali to attempt to rope him into the
conspiracy.” FAC ¶ 42.
November 8, 2010, Ali was arrested. FAC ¶ 27. As with
Osman, because the indictment charged Ali with
sex-trafficking-related offenses, he was subject to a
rebuttable presumption of pretrial detention and was ordered
detained pending trial. FAC ¶ 28.
Osman, Ali alleges that the charges of a widespread
sex-trafficking conspiracy were baseless and that Weyker
fabricated “[t]he overwhelming majority of the critical
evidence supporting the indictments in this alleged
conspiracy, ” FAC ¶¶ 31-32; that Weyker
manipulated and coerced Jane Doe witnesses into lying, FAC
¶¶ 39-41; that Weyker was motivated to falsify
evidence by a desire for glory, FAC ¶ 1; that Weyker
“worked with almost no supervision by her employer and
principal” the St. Paul Police Department, FAC ¶
44; and that indications of Weyker's fabrication included
her rough notes, questions surrounding Jane Doe Two's age
and her trip to Nashville in April 2009, the acquittals of
nine co-defendants who went to trial, and remarks about
Weyker by the district and appellate courts in the Tennessee
Case, FAC ¶¶ 14-15, 36-37, 39-40, 48-51, 53.
Ali's co-defendants went to trial in Spring 2012, and the
jury rendered its verdict in early May 2012. See FAC
¶ 48; United States v. Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d 555,
560 (M.D. Tenn. 2012). On May 4, 2012, Ali was released on
home monitoring. FAC ¶ 56. The jury acquitted six
defendants on all charges, and in December 2012, the district
court granted Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 motions
for acquittal by the other three defendants on the basis of a
variance. Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 560, 579; see
also FAC ¶ 49. In March 2016, the Sixth Circuit
Court of Appeals issued an order affirming the district