United States District Court, D. Minnesota
N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Haji Osman Salad 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 Salad'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. 40. 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. 43.
investigation at the core of Salad'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”). Salad 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 Salad'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. Salad is
represented by the same attorneys as Osman, and their
attorneys filed consolidated opposition papers to the
motions. See Osman Pls.' Opp. to St. Paul Mot.,
Dkt. No. 52; Osman Pls.' Opp. to DOJ Mot. to Dismiss
(“Osman DOJ Opp.”), Dkt. No. 58.
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) (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.
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 Salad's First Amended
Complaint and other facts gleaned from the Tennessee Case
2008, Salad met Jane Doe Two, who eventually became a witness
and alleged victim of sex trafficking in the Tennessee Case.
FAC ¶ 10. The two struck up a relationship that was
occasionally physical. See FAC ¶ 11. Salad has
always understood Jane Doe Two to be “approximately the
same age, ” see FAC ¶ 14.
April 2009, Salad, Jane Doe Two, and others travelled to
Nashville, Tennessee, and during the trip, Jane Doe Two
“engaged in consensual sex with men (i.e.,
alleged co-conspirators) other than Salad, apparently because
she was angry that Salad was ignoring her.” FAC
¶¶ 17-18. “Salad is not aware of any of his
alleged co-conspirators paying a fee or providing anything of
value in exchange for engaging in sex acts with Jane Doe Two,
and to the best of Salad's knowledge such exchange never
occurred.” FAC ¶ 19. During the trip, Jane Doe Two
was reported as a runaway; the Nashville police took Jane Doe
Two, Salad, and others into custody; and Salad was charged in
Tennessee state court with contributing to the delinquency of
a minor, but the state charges against Salad were dismissed
in April 2010. FAC ¶¶ 21-22, 26. When the Nashville
police questioned Jane Doe Two, she initially said that she
had engaged in consensual sex, “initially [saying]
nothing to the officers about engaging in sex acts in
exchange for payment, nor about going anywhere against her
will, ” and wrote out a statement to that effect, FAC
¶ 23, but when Jane Doe Two spoke on the phone with
Weyker-who was the lead investigator on the case, FAC ¶
36-Jane Doe Two “changed her version of events to claim
that her sex acts over the past few days had been
prostitution and sex trafficking, ” FAC ¶ 25
(quoting United States v. Fahra, 643 Fed.Appx. 480,
485 (6th Cir. 2016)).
after the state charges were dismissed, Weyker remained
intent “on pursuing charges against Salad, in part
because he declined to become a witness and provide false
evidence supporting Weyker's phony sex-trafficking
conspiracy.” FAC ¶ 27. “In fact, Weyker knew
that Salad had never entered any such conspiracy, and so she
set about manufacturing evidence to try to prove
otherwise.” Id. “Despite the dismissal
of the [state] charges, Weyker made the April 2009 trip a
cornerstone of her fabricated sex-trafficking
conspiracy.” FAC ¶ 28. “Weyker used the
false and manufactured statements she solicited from Jane Doe
Two to support allegations in the Indictment that Salad and
others kidnapped and transported Jane Doe Two from
Minneapolis to Nashville for the purpose of causing Jane Doe
Two to engage in commercial sex acts.” Id.
October 20, 2010, Salad was indicted in the Tennessee Case.
FAC ¶ 29. He was charged in nine counts. See
Indictment (“Ind't”), United States v.
Salad, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 3 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 20,
2010); see also FAC ¶ 29. 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 under the age of 14 (Jane Doe Two) for sex trafficking
(Counts 12 and 13). Two counts, Counts 3 and 4, alleged
obstruction of justice. Count 16 alleged that Salad conspired
to transport a stolen vehicle in interstate commerce in
February 2010. Ind't ¶107. Count 17 alleged that in
February 2010 through September 2010, Salad conspired to use
a false identification in connection with stealing and
transporting a vehicle. Ind't ¶¶ 113-15.
Finally, Count 18 alleged that from 2007 through September
2010, Salad conspired to commit credit card fraud.
E.g., Ind't ¶¶ 117,
indictment's allegation that Jane Doe Two was a minor was
false. “Weyker portrayed Jane Doe Two as a minor
despite knowing-and it being obvious-that Jane Doe Two was
older than her alleged age, and, as a result, the U.S.
Government alleged” in its indictment that Jane Doe Two
was a minor. FAC ¶ 12. Weyker also know the allegations
in the indictment about the April 2009 trip to Nashville with
Jane Doe Two to be false; she had “manipulated,
coerced, and pressured Jane Doe Two into fabricating evidence
and testimony that her visit to Nashville with Salad and
others was for the purpose of commercial sex, ” which
was untrue. FAC ¶ 44. Similarly, “Weyker also
fabricated evidence that Salad had entered an agreement with
some or all of the other co-defendants to sex-traffic minors
and adults for financial gain, when Weyker knew that Salad
had never entered into any such agreement regarding
sex-trafficking of anyone for any reason.” FAC ¶
was arrested based on the indictment, and because of the
alleged violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1591, he “was
subject to presumptive detention and was ordered detained
pending trial.” FAC ¶ 32. For some period while he
was awaiting trial, Salad was released to home monitoring,
but he was held in custody for a total of about four years.
FAC ¶ 62.
Salad's co-defendants went to trial in Spring 2012, and
the jury rendered its verdict in early May 2012. FAC
¶¶ 48-49; United States v. Adan, 913
F.Supp.2d 555, 560 (M.D. Tenn. 2012). Salad was originally
set to stand trial with these co-defendants, but elected to
be tried later with some other co-defendants. Adan,
913 F.Supp.2d at 559. The jury acquitted six of the
defendants of 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
court's Rule 29 order. United States v. Fahra,
643 Fed.Appx. 480 (6th Cir. 2016); see FAC ¶
51. The federal charges against Salad were then dismissed.
FAC ¶ 60.
Osman, Salad alleges that the charges of a widespread
sex-trafficking conspiracy were baseless and that Weyker
fabricated “the overwhelming majority of the critical
evidence supporting the indictments in this alleged
conspiracy, ” FAC ¶¶ 34-35; that Weyker
manipulated and coerced Jane Doe witnesses, including Jane
Doe Two, into lying, FAC ¶¶ 42-44; 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 ¶ 46; and that indications of
Weyker's fabrication included her rough notes, questions
surrounding Jane Doe Two's age and her trip to Nashville