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Hassan 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 Muhiyadin Hussein Hassan 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 Hassan'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. 39. 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 Hassan'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”). Hassan 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 Hassan'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. Hassan, coordinating with the other plaintiffs represented 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 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 Hassan's Amended Complaint and some facts gleaned from the Tennessee Case record.[2]

         On October 20, 2010, Hassan was indicted in the Tennessee Case. AC ¶ 13. He was charged in six counts. See Indictment (“Ind't”), United States v. Hassan, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 3 (M.D. Tenn. Oct. 20, 2010); see also SAC ¶ 13 (alleging that he was indicted on “charges including conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking minor females for profit and for attempting to obstruct the investigation of that alleged crime”) (emphasis added).[3] 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. These counts implicated Hassan in co-defendant Haji Osman Salad's alleged attempt to hide his cell phone from authorities in order to repress evidence; alleged that Hassan “had called” the sister of alleged victim-witness Jane Doe Two “and attempted to talk to her;” and alleged that he “discussed a fabricated story” for Salad to tell his attorney about a trip to Nashville that Salad, Jane Doe Two, and others took in April 2009. See Ind't ¶¶ 71, 78-80. Additionally, Count 15 alleged that from May 20, 2006, through September 15, 2006, Hassan conspired to transport stolen money and goods across state lines in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2314. Ind't ¶¶ 100, 104-06. Finally, Count 18 alleged that from 2007 through September 2010, he conspired to commit credit card fraud. E.g., Ind't ¶¶ 117, 125, 150. First and second superseding indictments were filed that all included the same charges against Hassan. See AC ¶ 16; United States v. Hassan, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. Nos. 36, 591 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 3, 2010 & May 4, 2011).

         The indictment included “scant allegations relating directly to Hassan.” AC ¶ 17. “Hassan never conspired, engaged, or attempted to engage to have any Jane Doe perform commercial sex. . . . Fabricated evidence formed the basis for these false allegations against Hassan.” AC ¶ 19. Weyker and other defendants “concoct[ed] stories for putative victims like Jane Doe Two and coach[ed] them to testify-albeit unbelievably and inconsistently-in support of the Indictment.” AC ¶ 24.

         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, to be tried later. United States v. Hassan, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 1395 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 16, 2012). In addition, Hassan and some other defendants elected to be severed from the defendants preparing for trial on sex-trafficking-related charges. United States v. Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d 555, 559 (M.D. Tenn. 2012); see also AC ¶ 33 (“Hassan's trial was to begin after theirs.”).

         In that Spring 2012 criminal trial, the jury acquitted six defendants fully and acquitted three defendants on some counts but convicted them on other counts. AC ¶ 35. 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 ¶ 35; Adan, 913 F.Supp.2d at 579.

         After the trial, a Third Superseding Indictment was filed that named Hassan in eight counts, including for conspiracy to transport stolen goods (renumbered Count 16), conspiracy to commit credit card fraud (renumbered Count 19), and obstruction of justice (Count 3 and renumbered Count 6). In addition to the sex-trafficking conspiracy charges in Counts 1 and 2, this indictment for the first time also charged Hassan with substantive violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1591 for recruiting and attempting to recruit Jane Doe Two, a minor, to engage in commercial sex (Counts 13 and 14). See United States v. Hassan, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 2701 (M.D. Tenn. Aug. 22, 2012).

         Hassan moved for release from custody, and on September 25, 2012, a magistrate judge released him on bond with conditions. See AC ¶ 31; United States v. Hassan, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. No. 2855 (M.D. Tenn. Sept. 25, 2012).

         In March 2016, the Sixth Circuit decided an appeal of the district court's order granting the Rule 29 motions. See AC ¶ 36; see also United States v. Fahra, 643 Fed.Appx. 480 (6th Cir. Mar. 2, 2016). On March 8, 2016, the government moved to dismiss all remaining charges against all remaining defendants, and on March 10, the district court granted the motion and vacated all terms and conditions of supervised release that had been imposed. See AC ¶¶ 37-38; United States v. Hassan, No. 3:10cr260, Dkt. Nos. 3796, 3798 (M.D. Tenn. Mar. 8 & 10, 2016).

         Like Osman, Hassan alleges that the charges of a wide-ranging sex-trafficking conspiracy were baseless and that Weyker fabricated “the overwhelming majority of material evidence supporting [his] indictment for sex trafficking, ” AC ¶ 22; that Weyker manipulated and coerced Jane Doe witnesses, including Jane Doe Two, into lying, e.g., AC ¶¶ 20, 24, 39; and that indications of Weyker's fabrication included her rough notes, AC ¶¶ 27, questions surrounding Jane Doe Two's age, e.g., AC ¶¶ 28-30, questions surrounding Jane Doe Two's April 2009 trip to Nashville, AC ¶¶ 21, 27, and the district court's post-trial grant of the Rule 29 motions, AC ¶ ...

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