339 F.Supp.2d 385 (D.Conn. 2004), 302CV1536, Walczyk v. Rio

Docket Nº:302CV1536
Citation:339 F.Supp.2d 385
Party Name:Walczyk v. Rio
Case Date:September 29, 2004
Court:United States District Courts, 2nd Circuit, District of Connecticut
 
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Page 385

339 F.Supp.2d 385 (D.Conn. 2004)

Thomas WALCZYK, et al., Plaintiffs,

v.

James RIO, et al., Defendants.

No. 3:02CV1536(RNC).

United States District Court, D. Connecticut.

Sept. 29, 2004

Page 386

Jon L. Schoenhorn, Law Offices of Jon L. Schoenhorn, Hartford, CT, for Plaintiffs.

Thomas R. Gerarde, David S. Monastersky, John J. Radshaw, III, Howd & Ludorf, Hartford, CT, for Defendants.

RULING AND ORDER

CHATIGNY, Chief Judge.

Thomas Walczyk, Elizabeth Walczyk, Maximina Walczyk and Michelle Walczyk bring this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of their rights under the United States and Connecticut constitutions by six employees of the Farmington Police Department (FPD).1 Defendants have filed three motions for summary judgment covering all counts in the complaint, and plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment on some of their claims. For the reasons stated below, defendants' motions are granted in part and denied in part, and plaintiffs' motion is denied.

Page 387

I. Facts

This action arises from a 1999 incident in which Farmington police arrested Thomas Walczyk, searched two houses belonging to members of the Walczyk family, and seized Thomas's huge firearms collection. The six defendants are sued in their individual capacities only.

The story begins with a dispute over the ownership of land. Plaintiff Elizabeth Walczyk has lived at 27 Tunxis Street in Farmington for a long time, formerly with her now-deceased husband Lucien. Their son, plaintiff Thomas Walczyk, now lives across the street at 28 Tunxis. Tunxis Street lies just south of Farmington Village, adjoining an area of open land. Some of the land near the Walczyks' houses is owned by Barberino Realty. During the Eighties and Nineties, Elizabeth and Lucien Walczyk tried to assert ownership of Barberino's land on the basis of adverse possession. Connecticut courts ruled against them and granted Barberino's cross-claim to quiet title. Nevertheless, Thomas Walczyk remained convinced that his family owned the land. He told FPD Captain James Rio that he had a common law right to the property, that he lost in court only because of perjury by a witness and improper conduct by a judge, and that if the police failed to take his side in his dispute with Barberino, he would "take matters into [his] own hands" and "do what [he] had to do to protect [his] property."

Meanwhile, Thomas had a series of brushes with the law, mostly involving his extensive collection of firearms. The collection includes about 90 firearms, including assault rifles, carbines, other rifles, pistols, and shotguns, along with 2600 rounds of ammunition. All of these are lawfully registered.

In 1988, Thomas was arrested for confronting some of Barberino's workers while carrying an M-16 loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition. After FPD officers intervened, Thomas apparently persisted in refusing to lower his weapon. He pleaded guilty to creating a public disturbance. In 1990, he was arrested for threatening after a dispute with a motorist. The motorist apparently followed Thomas home after Thomas cut him off on the road; Thomas went into his house and came out with a loaded AK-47. The charges were nolled. In 1992, he was arrested after a neighbor complained that Thomas had shot the neighbor's cat. He pleaded guilty to breach of peace. In 1996, he was almost charged with threatening after an altercation with his brother.

On August 30, 1999, Thomas Walczyk noticed that a gate he had built on Barberino's land had been torn down, and that a piece of logging equipment had been left there. He called the FPD to report a trespass. When Officer David Hebert arrived, he told Thomas that he could take no action against Barberino until Thomas could produce title to the land. Thomas replied that "the police aren't taking the necessary action to avoid a bloodbath," or words to that effect. Hebert was annoyed by the remark but did not feel threatened. Thomas says that he intended the remark in an abstract way, not as a threat that he would take any violent action.

After Hebert filed his report on the incident, some FPD personnel interpreted the "bloodbath" remark as a threat that Thomas would make use of his weaponry in his dispute with BarberiNo. The leading figure in the ensuing events seems to have been defendant Sergeant William Tyler. Tyler, along with defendants Corporal Angela Deschenes and Officer Shawn Brown, and perhaps with the help of defendant Captain James Rio...

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