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Omar v. Weyker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 9, 2017

ABDIFATAH 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; ROBERT ROES 1-3, 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 Abdifatah Sharif Omar 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 A. 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. 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. 46.

         The investigation at the core of A. 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”). A. Omar 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.

         Nineteen of A. 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, given the overlap in allegations and arguments. A. Omar 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.

         The Court held a hearing on Defendants' 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) (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. 3-4.

         III. ALLEGATIONS

         Most of 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 A. Omar's First Amended Complaint and some facts gleaned from the Tennessee Case record.[2]

         In 2009, A. Omar lived in Minnesota but spent some time in Nashville, Tennessee, visiting with his aunt. FAC ¶ 10. In April 2009, a group of “young Somalis, mostly men and mostly unknown at the time to Omar, was taken into custody by the Nashville Police Department, including Jane Doe Two, ” and Jane Doe Two, after first telling local detectives one story that did not mention any sex for money, told Weyker-the lead investigator on the case- that Jane Doe Two had committed acts of prostitution and sex-trafficking over the past few days. FAC ¶¶ 19-22, 35. In June 2009, while A. Omar was staying with his aunt, some friends from Minneapolis came to visit, and because it would have been too crowded for them all to stay with his aunt, he rented them a hotel room. FAC ¶ 12. He “had no intention, desire, or expectation that any commercial sex acts, nor sex acts with minors take place in the hotel room” and to the best of his knowledge, “no such acts took place in the hotel room.” Id.

         In an October 20, 2010 indictment, A. Omar was charged with multiple crimes, the “thrust” of which “was that [he] engaged in a conspiracy to recruit and transport minors for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts, and to obstruct the investigation thereof.” FAC ¶ 25. “No such conspiracy existed, and Defendants knew it.” Id. The indictment charged A. Omar in nine counts. See Indictment (“Ind't”), United States v. Omar, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 3 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 20, 2010). Two counts alleged participation in a sex-trafficking conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) (Counts 1 and 2). Three counts, Counts 3, 4, and 19, alleged obstruction of justice or conspiracy to obstruct justice. More specifically, Counts 3 and 4 alleged that co-defendant Haji Osman Salad “spoke to” A. Omar and asked him “to talk to Jane Doe Two's parents, ” that A. Omar said “that he would do so, ” and that Salad told him “to make sure Jane Doe Two's family cannot come to court.” Ind't ¶ 72; see also Ind't ¶ 74-75 (similar allegations). Counts 3 and 4 also alleged that A. Omar gave Salad some information about Salad's phone, which Salad had given to “an unindicted co-conspirator” for “the purpose of concealing the cellular phone from law enforcement.” Ind't ¶¶ 71, 73. In addition, Count 15 charged A. Omar with conspiring to transport stolen goods in interstate commerce. Count 16 charged A. Omar with conspiracy to transport a stolen vehicle across state lines. Count 17 charged him with conspiring to use a fake driver's license to commit a crime. Finally, Count 18 charged him with conspiring to commit credit card fraud. A First Superseding Indictment charged him in the same counts. United States v. Omar, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 36 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 3, 2010).

         A. Omar was arrested in November 2010 after being indicted. FAC ¶ 26. Because of the alleged violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1591, he “was subject to presumptive detention and was ordered detained pending trial.” FAC ¶ 28. For some period while he awaited trial, A. Omar was released on home monitoring, but he was held in custody for nearly two years. FAC ¶ 54.

         “Despite Omar's utter lack of connection” to the events that occurred in Nashville in April 2009 involving Jane Doe Two, he was “indicted in a sex-trafficking conspiracy case involving that incident based on evidence fabricated by Weyker.” FAC ¶ 23. “Weyker made the April 2009 trip a cornerstone of her fabricated sex-trafficking conspiracy.” FAC ¶ 24. The indictment also alleged that A. Omar rented the hotel room in June 2009 “for the purpose of facilitating a commercial sex act, ” which was not true. FAC ¶ 13; see Ind't ¶ 63. “This was the only overt act of any particularity alleged in conspiracy against Omar regarding the commercially sex-trafficking of minors.” Id. “Weyker also manipulated and coerced two Somali males, whose identities are known to Plaintiff, into falsely implicating Omar in the sex-trafficking conspiracy and other allegations.” FAC ¶ 29.

         Like Osman, A. Omar 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 ¶¶ 33-34; that Weyker manipulated and coerced Jane Doe witnesses, including Jane Doe One, into lying, FAC ¶¶ 16, 41-43; 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 ¶ 45; 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 and the case by the district and appellate courts in the Tennessee Case, FAC ¶¶ 14-15, 20, 22, 38-39, 49-53, 56.

         Nine of A. Omar's co-defendants went to trial in Spring 2012, and the jury rendered its verdict in early May 2012. See FAC ¶ 47; United States v. Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d 555, 560 (M.D. Tenn. 2012). A. Omar 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 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 ¶ 50. In March 2016, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order affirming the district court's Rule 29 order. See FAC ¶ 51; United States v. Fahra, 643 Fed.Appx. 480 (6th Cir. 2016). The federal charges against A. Omar were then dismissed. FAC ¶ 60.

         IV. ...


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