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Ahmad 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 Ahmad Abnulnasir Ahmad 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 both 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 Ahmad'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 Ahmad'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”). Ahmad 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 Ahmad'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. Ahmad, coordinating with the other plaintiffs represented by his counsel, opposed the Defendants' 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]


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

         “In April 2009, Ahmad went to the mall with Haji Salad, ” who would later become a co-defendant in the Tennessee Case, “and a few others.” AC ¶ 11. Salad's girlfriend Jane Doe Two joined. Id. “This was the first and only time Ahmad associated with Jane Doe Two.” Id.

         On November 3, 2010, Ahmad was indicted in a First Superseding Indictment (“FSI”) in the Tennessee Case, which charged him in two counts. See AC ¶ 14; FSI, United States v. Ahmad, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 36 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 3, 2010). These two counts alleged 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 (Counts 1 and 2).

         On November 8, 2010, Ahmad was arrested in his home pursuant to this indictment. AC ¶¶ 12, 14. Federal agents “brought him to an immigration detention center, ” where Weyker was “[w]aiting for him.” AC ¶ 12. “Weyker brought Ahmad into a room and told him he would never see daylight again unless he cooperated with her.” AC ¶ 13. “Ahmad had no idea what he was arrested for. He learned about the false charges for the first time later that day in court.” Id. “Ahmad refused to falsely admit to things he did not do nor falsely implicate others.” Id.

         The only “specific allegations related to sex trafficking” against Ahmad in the indictment “referenced a single day and one female listed as ‘Jane Doe Two.'” AC ¶ 15. The indictment “alleged that on April 17, 2009: (1) Haji Salad picked up Jane Doe Two from high school, accompanied by Ahmad and two others, and took her to the North Town Mall in Minneapolis, where Haji Salad engaged in a sex act in the men's bathroom with Jane Doe Two; and (2), upon leaving the mall, they drove to [a] garage where one of the others [not Ahmad] engaged in a sex act with Jane Doe Two.” AC ¶ 16; see also FSI ¶¶ 26-27.[3] “Ahmad 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 Ahmad.” AC ¶ 19. “All of the charges against Ahmad were also predicated on a fact that Weyker and Bandemer knew they could not prove: that Jane Doe Two was a minor.” AC ¶ 23.

         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, e.g., AC ¶¶ 20, 25. In a Sixth Circuit opinion, the court made several remarks about Weyker's interactions with 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 ¶ 28 (quoting United States v. Fahra, 643 Fed.Appx. 480, 482 (6th Cir. Mar. 2, 2016)).

         In March 2012, a criminal trial began in which Ahmad was tried on the only two charges against him. See AC ¶ 33. At the trial, Weyker “was not even called as a witness” because her “credibility was so eviscerated” by that point. AC ¶ 34.

         The jury acquitted Ahmad of all charges. AC ¶ 37; United States v. Adan, 913 F.Supp. 2d, 555, 560 (M.D. Tenn. 2012). Five other defendants were fully acquitted by the jury. Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 560. Three of his co-defendants were found guilty on some counts. Id.; see also AC ¶ 38. “The trial judge, however, granted a judgment of acquittal for those defendants, ” on the basis of a variance between the sex-trafficking conspiracy charged in Counts 1 and 2 and the multiple conspiracies proved at trial. AC ¶ 38; see Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 579. In March 2016, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant ...

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