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Afyare 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; and THE CITY OF ST. PAUL, Defendants.




         Plaintiff Abdullahi Sade Afyare 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 Afyare'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. 35. 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. 44.

         The investigation at the core of Afyare'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”). Afyare 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 Afyare'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. Afyare, coordinating with the other plaintiffs represented by the same counsel, opposed the motions. See GBBS Pls.' Opp. to St. Paul Mot., Dkt. No. 49; GBBS Pls.' Opp. to DOJ Mot. to Dismiss, Dkt. No. 52.

         The Court held a hearing on Defendants' 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) (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.


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

         In April 2009, Afyare went to a party with some individuals who in time became his co-defendants in the Tennessee Case. AC ¶ 17. He met Jane Doe Two there for the first time. Id. A few days later, he and his friends, as well as Jane Doe Two, took a road trip to Nashville, Tennessee. AC ¶ 18. Soon after they arrived in Nashville, they were arrested, and he was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor (Jane Doe Two). AC ¶¶ 20-23.

         On November 8, 2010, Afyare was arrested on a First Superseding Indictment (“FSI”), dated November 3, 2010. See AC ¶¶ 28, 34. He was taken to an immigration detention center, where Weyker began to question him “and threatened that if he did not admit to her trumped up tale of sex trafficking and implicate others, he would go to prison for a long time.” AC ¶¶ 28-29. Afyare “refused to falsely admit to things he did not do nor falsely implicate others.” Id. That same day, he was brought before a magistrate judge for a detention hearing. AC ¶ 30. The judge ordered him released on conditions, but the government appealed, and the district court in Tennessee stayed the release order pending the appeal, so Afyare remained in custody. AC ¶ 30. Eventually the appeal was decided, and he was released on conditions. AC ¶ 52.

         The indictment charged Afyare in seven counts. See FSI, United States v. Afyare, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 36 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 3, 2010). 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. Counts 12 and 13 alleged, from December 2006 through April 2009, recruitment and attempted recruitment of a minor (Jane Doe Two) to engage in sex trafficking. Finally, Count 18 alleged that from 2007 through September 2010, Afyare conspired to commit credit card fraud. E.g., FSI ¶¶ 117, 119, 128, 130-32.

         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 and 18, for later trial. United States v. Afyare, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 1395 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 16, 2012). In addition, Afyare 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).

         In the criminal trial that took place in Spring 2012, the jury acquitted six defendants fully, and acquitted three defendants on some counts but convicted them on other counts. See AC ¶ 56. 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 AC ¶ 56; Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 579.

         After that trial, in August 2012, a Third Superseding Indictment was filed. It charged Afyare with the same crimes, including credit-card fraud conspiracy, and added some charges. See United States v. Afyare, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 2701 (M.D. Tenn. Aug. 22, 2012).

         Afyare was released from pretrial detention after the Sixth Circuit on March 2, 2016, decided the appeal of the district court's order granting the Rule 29 motions, and after the government subsequently moved to dismiss all charges against all remaining defendants. See AC ΒΆΒΆ ...

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