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Howard v. Tribble

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division

November 4, 2019

JACKIE DORAIL HOWARD PLAINTIFF
v.
DETECTIVE BRIAN TRIBBLE, Texarkana Arkansas Police Department; and SERGEANT ZACHERY WHITE, Texarkana Arkansas Police Department DEFENDANTS

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Hon. Barry A. Bryant United States Magistrate Judge

         This is a civil rights action filed pro se by Plaintiff, Jackie Dorail Howard, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Currently before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Brian Tribble and Zachery White. (ECF No. 26). Plaintiff has filed Response (ECF No. 32) and a Statement of Facts in support of the Response. (ECF No. 33). Pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and (3)(2011), the Honorable Susan O. Hickey, Chief United States District Judge, referred this case to the undersigned for the purpose of making a Report and Recommendation.

         I. FACTUAL BACKROUND

         Plaintiff is currently incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction (“ADC”) - Ouachita River Unit - in Malvern, Arkansas. Plaintiff's claims in this lawsuit arise from what he claims was an unlawful arrest on June 5, 2018, and subsequent false imprisonment based on charges which were later nolle prossed. (ECF No. 1). At the time of the events in question, Defendant Brian Tribble was a detective with the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department (“TAPD”) and Defendant Zachary White was a sergeant with the department.

         On June 5, 2018, Lisa Goodwin, manager of the fast food restaurant Whataburger notified the TAPD that a theft had occurred in her store. (ECF No. 28-1, p. 3). When Officer Cobin Brown and Officer Landon[1] made contact with Ms. Goodwin, she informed them that an unknown black male and a female accomplice entered the store and the black male was shown on CCTV footage unplugging a laptop charger from a booth table, collecting the laptop and charger, and leaving the store. Id. Although Ms. Goodwin was unable to release the CCTV footage at that time, she forwarded a still photo of the footage to Defendant Tribble via email. Id.

         Later that same day, Defendants Tribble and White were called to the restaurant after being notified the female suspect was at the store claiming she was not involved in the theft. (ECF No. 28-1, p. 3). The female suspect was gone by the time Defendants Tribble and White arrived at the restaurant. However, Defendants stopped at the Scottish Inn and Suites, a motel close to the Whataburger restaurant, to see if their CCTV cameras had caught any footage of the suspects. Id. When Defendants showed the front desk clerk the photos of the suspects sent to them by Ms. Goodwin, he identified the female as Christie Littles, who had spent the night at the hotel with a black male. Id.

         The clerk then showed a photo to Defendants Tribble and White of Ms. Littles and the black male who had stayed at the motel the evening of June 5, 2018. (ECF No. 28-2, p. 10). At that time Defendant White identified the black male as the Plaintiff from past dealings with him. Defendant Tribble then sent the photos of the suspects from the motel to Ms. Goodwin and she advised they were the same people who were in her store that took the laptop. Id. The criminal case was then continued pending the issuance of arrest warrants. Id.

         On June 7, 2018, an affidavit was prepared by Defendant Tribble to obtain a warrant for the arrest of Plaintiff and Ms. Littles. (ECF No. 28-1). That same day the affidavit was reviewed by the Prosecuting Attorney's office and authorized prior to being signed by Miller County Circuit Court Judge Kurt Johnson. Id.

         Although Ms. Little and Plaintiff denied Plaintiff was involved with the theft, Plaintiff was arrested on June 17, 2018, and detained at the Miller County Jail. (ECF NO. 28-2, pp. 2-4). Plaintiff's First Appearance in court was held on July 21, 2018. (ECF No. 28, p. 2).

         The theft charges against Plaintiff were later nolle prossed by the prosecuting attorney on August 21, 2018. (ECF No. 28, p. 2). Defendants state Plaintiff's probation was revoked in a prior case when the Circuit Court found Plaintiff had violated state law; failed to abstain from the use or sale of drugs and alcohol; failed to report to his supervising officer; failed to notify his supervising officer of a change of address; and failed to pay fines and fees as ordered.[2] Id. Plaintiff appears to dispute this in his Complaint when he states his probation was violated as a result of his unlawful arrest, presumably resulting in what he claims was false imprisonment. (ECF No. 1, pp. 10-13).

         Finally, Defendants state there is no policy or custom in the City of Texarkana of arresting or detaining suspects in violation of their constitutional rights. (ECF No. 28, p. 2).

         Plaintiff filed his Complaint on September 12, 2018.[3] In Claim One Plaintiff states on June 17, 2018, “false Imprisonment stolen laptop out of Whataburger, charge was dropped but violated my probation”. (ECF No. 1, p. 10). Plaintiff alleges he “never enter or went to a Whataburger period.” Id. For his official capacity claim he states, “14 Amendment was violated accusing me of stealing out of a business in I didn't do it. ‘Equal Protection'”. Id. at p. 11.

         For Claims Two, Three, and Four Plaintiff again describes them as “false Imprisonment stolen laptop out of Whataburger, charge was dropped but, violated my probation.” (ECF No. 1, pp. 12-13). Plaintiff also describes his official capacity claims for Claims Two, Three and Four as “the 14 amendment was violated accusing me of stealing out of a business in I didn't do it. “Equal Protection…” (ECF No. 1, p. 14).

         On August 1, 2019, Defendants Tribble and White filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 26). They argue they are entitled to summary judgment because: 1) there was no illegal seizure because Plaintiff was arrested pursuant to a facially valid warrant of arrest supported by probable cause; 2) Plaintiff has not suffered a due process violation; 3) Defendants are entitled to the ...


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