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Amalle v. Weyker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 9, 2017

MOHAMED AMALLE, 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; and THE CITY OF ST. PAUL, Defendants.

          ORDER

          JOAN N. ERICKSEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Mohamed Amalle alleges violations of his constitutional rights in an investigation that led to his indictment by a federal grand jury and his subsequent arrest, a trial, and his acquittal on all counts in which he was charged. 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 Amalle'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. 36. 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. 45.

         The investigation at the core of Amalle'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”). Amalle 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 Amalle'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. Amalle, coordinating with the other plaintiffs represented by his counsel, opposed the motions. See GBBS Pls.' Opp. to St. Paul Mot., Dkt. No. 50; GBBS Pls.' Opp. to DOJ Mot. to Dismiss, Dkt. No. 53.

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

         On May 4, 2011, Amalle was indicted in a Second Superseding Indictment (“SSI”) in the Tennessee Case. AC ¶ 16. He had not been indicted in the original or first superseding indictment, but was added as the thirtieth defendant in the Second Superseding Indictment, which charged him in four counts. See AC ¶ 23; SSI, United States v. Amalle, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 591 (M.D. Tenn. May 4, 2011). Two counts alleged participation in a sex-trafficking conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) (Counts 1 and 2). The other 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).

         Amalle was arrested pursuant to the Second Superseding Indictment on May 10, 2011. AC ¶ 18. After a detention hearing on May 12, 2011, a magistrate judge ordered Amalle's detention in custody. AC ¶ 19.

         The counts as against Amalle only referenced one supposed witness-victim, Jane Doe Two. AC ¶ 24. Indeed, the indictment “hardly mentioned [Amalle] at all.” AC ¶ 25. He was alleged to have been an “associate” of two Somali gangs based in Minnesota. SSI ¶ 1(f). In addition, he was charged with being “[p]resent” when, on November 26, 2006, Jane Doe Two “was enticed into engaging in a sex act with a person known as ‘BG, ' whose identity is unknown.” SSI ¶ 12. Jane Doe Two was alleged to have been under thirteen years old at that time. SSI ¶ 11. Lastly, Amalle and two others were charged with transporting Jane Doe Two “on multiple occasions” between January 2007 through May 5, 2007, often in a green minivan, to an apartment complex in Minneapolis, Minnesota. FSI ¶ 15. The indictment alleged that while driving to the apartments, “one or more of the aforementioned males would make cellular phone calls asking persons if they wanted to engage in sex with Jane Doe Two, ” and that they charged people money to have sex with her. Id.

         “All of these charges were predicated on two facts that Weyker and Bandemer knew they could not prove: that Jane Doe Two was a minor and that Amalle was part of an imaginary sex-trafficking ring.” AC ¶ 25. Amalle also “never conspired, engaged, or attempted to engage to have Jane Doe Two perform commercial sex. Fabricated evidence formed the basis for these false allegations against Amalle.” AC ¶ 28. Weyker, by forming “a deep and manipulative relationship with Jane Doe Two and the other Jane Doe witnesses-whom she referred to as ‘my girls' in a news interview about the Vice Unit's biggest indictment, ” manipulated and coerced Jane Doe Two and other witnesses into giving false testimony. See AC ¶¶ 29, 33, 35. In a Sixth Circuit opinion, the court made several remarks about interactions between Jane Doe Two, including that “meetings [between Weyker and Jane Doe Two at her school] . . . produced a story in which Jane Doe 2 was not a troubled runaway or juvenile delinquent, but was instead an innocent child taken in by a Somali gang who used her for sex” and that “Jane Doe 2 herself furthered the district court's suspicion when she testified on cross examination that Weyker had misstated facts in the reports, adding to and omitting things from her statements.” AC ¶ 36 (quoting United States v. Fahra, 643 Fed.Appx. 480, 482 (6th Cir. Mar. 2, 2016)).

         In March 2012, a criminal trial began in which Amalle was tried on the only four charges against him. See AC ¶ 40. At the trial, Weyker “was not even called as a witness” because her “credibility was so eviscerated” by that point. AC ¶ 41.

         The jury acquitted Amalle of all charges. AC ¶ 42; United States v. Adan, 913 F.Supp. 2d. 555, 560 (M.D. Tenn. 2012). “The majority of his co-defendants were also acquitted of all charges, but a few were found guilty on some counts.” AC ¶ 42; see also Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 560. “The trial judge, however, granted a judgment of acquittal for those defendants, ” pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, on the basis of a variance between the sex-trafficking conspiracy charged in Counts 1 and 2 and the multiple conspiracies proved at trial. See AC ¶ 42; see Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 579. In March ...


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