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Mohamud v. Weyker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 9, 2017

BASHIR YASIN MOHAMUD, 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; 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.

          ORDER

          JOAN N. ERICKSEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Bashir Yasin Mohamud 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; 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 Mohamud'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. 38. 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 Mohamud'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”). Mohamud 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 Mohamud'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. Mohamud, coordinating with the other plaintiffs represented by his counsel, opposed the Defendants' motions. See GBBS Pls.' Opp. to St. Paul Mot., Dkt. No. 49; GBBS Pls.' Opp. to DOJ Mot. to Dismiss (“GBBS DOJ Opp.”), Dkt. No. 52.

         The Court held a hearing on Defendants' motions on May 3, 2017, and now grants in part and denies in part Weyker and Bandemer's motion and grants St. Paul's motion.[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) (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.

         III. ALLEGATIONS

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

         On November 3, 2010, Mohamud was charged in a First Superseding Indictment (“FSI”) in the Tennessee Case. AC ¶ 17. He was charged in only two counts. Counts 1 and 2 charged him with conspiracy to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a), which criminalizes the sex trafficking of minors, sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, and knowingly benefiting from participating in such a sex-trafficking venture. AC ¶ 17. A Second Superseding Indictment was later filed that included the same charges against Mohamud. AC ¶ 18; United States v. Mohamud, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 591 (M.D. Tenn. May 4, 2011).

         Mohamud was arrested on November 8, 2010. AC ¶ 13. On December 2, 2010, he waived his right to a detention hearing, reserving “his right to seek release at some point in the future if appropriate, ” and he was ordered to be detained in custody. United States v. Mohamud, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 1006, at 2 (M.D. Tenn. Dec. 15, 2011) (submitted in this civil case as DOJ Br. Ex. D, Dkt. No. 41-1).

         The counts as against Mohamud exclusively involved the supposed witness-victim Jane Doe Four. AC ¶ 20. The indictment alleged that on March 11, 2010, Mohamud and others transported Jane Doe Four to a hotel in Richfield, Minnesota, where Mohamud rented a room. AC ¶ 21. It alleged that “[i]n this room, ” Mohamud “and other males through force and fraud, had non-consensual sex with Jane Doe Four, ” who was then 18 years old. FSI ¶¶ 59-60; AC ¶ 21. “There was never any such [sex-trafficking] conspiracy[, ] and Mohamud never engaged in any attempt to have Jane Doe Four or any others engage in commercial sex. . . . Fabricated evidence formed the basis of this false allegation against Mohamud.” AC ¶ 22. “Further, no such non-consensual sex occurred between Mohamud and Jane Doe Four.” AC ¶ 23. Mohamud did rent a room in a hotel in Richfield on March 10-11, 2010, and he was there with Jane Doe Four on those dates. AC ¶¶ 24-25. Jane Doe Four “was a willing participant in a party that occurred in that room, ” and she engaged in consensual sexual activities with Mohamud at the party. AC ¶¶ 25-26. The Richfield Police Department interviewed Mohamud about the party only after the Tennessee Case prosecutor contacted them and informed them that “this alleged incident involving Jane Doe Four was likely related to [the prosecutor's] investigation involving human sex trafficking in Nashville, Tennessee-the same ‘ring' being investigated by Weyker and Bandemer.” AC ¶¶ 27-28. Weyker was the lead investigator on the case, and Bandemer was her supervisor in the St. Paul Police Department. AC ¶ 16. “Mohamud was never charged by the Richfield Police Department with any crime relating to the events of March 10-11, 2010.” AC ¶ 29.

         In her grand jury testimony in the Tennessee Case, Jane Doe Four gave conflicting accounts of what happened at the Richfield party. AC ¶¶ 30-31. During October 2010 grand jury testimony, Jane Doe Four “stated she was not going to the Motel 6 to exchange sex for money and that ‘[she] never sell [her] body . . . No, I've never done that . . . .'” AC ¶ 31 (quoting United States v. Mohamud, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 2560, at 3-4 (M.D. Tenn. June 8, 2012)) (incorrectly cited as Dkt. No. 2650) (submitted as DOJ Br. Ex. I, Dkt. No. 41-1).

         The district court held a detention hearing on in November 2011, after Mohamud filed a motion to reconsider detention. See DOJ Br. Ex. D at 2. At this hearing, “the proof was that Jane Doe 4 was discovered in the motel bed nude and after wakening, she began crying and screaming. . . . Weyker testified that at the motel, Jane Doe 4 did not consent fo[r] anyone to have sex with her.” AC ¶ 32 (quoting DOJ Br. Ex. I at 5). “Weyker additionally testified at the [November 2011] detention hearing that the markings on Jane Doe Four's vaginal area were the result of ‘blunt force trauma.' . . . As [the Tennessee Case district court judge] noted: ‘that phrase is not in the nurse's report.'” AC ¶ 33 (quoting DOJ Br. Ex. I at 5). “Weyker's fabricated evidence regarding Jane Doe Four led to Mohamud's continued detention.” AC ¶ 34.

         Around March 2012, a number of Mohamud's co-defendants went to trial. AC ¶ 53. Mohamud had moved to sever his case from their trial, and the district court granted the motion. United States v. Mohamud, 3:10cr260, Dkt. Nos. 1051, 1395 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 11, 2012 & Feb. 16, 2012) (Mohamud's second motion to sever, and the district court order severing the charges against him); see also AC ¶ 53 (“Mohamud's trial was to begin after theirs.”). In that trial, six of nine defendants were fully acquitted by the jury, but the jury convicted the other three defendants on some charges. See AC ¶ 55. The district court then granted those three defendants' Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 motions for judgments of acquittal, on the basis of a variance. See AC ¶ 55; United States v. Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d 555, 579 (M.D. Tenn. Dec. 19, 2012).

         After that trial, Mohamud filed a sealed renewed motion for release based on changed circumstances. United States v. Mohamud, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 2435 (M.D. Tenn. Apr. 26, 2012). On June 8, 2012, the district court granted his motion, concluding that “[w]ithout evidence that [Mohamud] sexually trafficked a person in violation of federal law, the Court cannot find clear and convincing evidence for this Court's Order for the continued detention of this Defendant.” AC ¶ 35 (quoting DOJ Br. Ex. I at 7). He was released on pretrial conditions on June 15, 2012. AC ¶ 47.[3]

         The government had appealed the district court's grant of the Rule 29 motions after the April 2012 trial, and in March 2016, the appellate court affirmed the district court. AC ¶ 56 (citing United States v. Fahra, 643 Fed.Appx. 480 (6th Cir. 2012)). “In its opinion, before it recounted the trial testimony and evidence, the [appellate court] noted ‘. . . that we start our analysis from what is likely a fictitious story.'” AC ¶ 56 (quoting Fahra, 643 Fed.Appx. at 484).

         After the appellate court's opinion issued, the government moved to dismiss all remaining charges against all remaining defendants, and the court granted the motion on March 10, 2016. AC ¶ 57. Mohamud was then “finally released from electronic ...


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