Hayes v. Jones Cnty.

Decision Date30 September 2022
Docket NumberCivil Action 2:20-cv-118-TBM-MTP
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Mississippi


Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-118-TBM-MTP

United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division

September 30, 2022



Mekeshia Hayes was at her home when her door was kicked open by officers from the Jones County Sheriff's Department. Officer Jake Driskell and other officers entered the home and executed a search warrant. [22], ¶ 13. After questioning Desmond Hicks-Hayes' boyfriend- about the location of alleged drugs, Hayes and Hicks were arrested for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute. However, the officers discovered no drugs during the search. Hayes filed suit in this Court against Officer Driskell, the Jones County Sheriff's Department, and Jones County alleging that the Defendants violated Hayes' constitutional rights and Mississippi law.

Now before the Court is Officer Driskell's Renewed Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [24]. For the reasons discussed fully below, Officer Driskell's Motion [24] based on qualified immunity is granted in part and denied in part.


This matter arises out of a February 13, 2020, search of Hayes' home in Laurel, Mississippi at approximately 8:00 p.m. and the events that followed. Officer Driskell and the Jones County Sheriff's Department had a valid search warrant that provided for the search of 1350 Ellisville Blvd.


Lot F, Laurel, Mississippi, “occupied and controlled by: Desmond Hicks and Other Occupants Unknown.” [13-1].

Officer Driskell supplied the affidavit for the search warrant stating:

On the 7th day of January, 2020, Investigators of the Jones County Sheriff's Office were conducting surveillance at 1350 Ellisville Blvd. lot F on a black male named Desmond Hicks. As investigators were watching the residence when a black male later identified as Darrell Jones, left Hicks's residence in a blue Ford Mustang. Sgt Driskell and Brogan then followed Jones and conducted a traffic stop with Jones for an improper equipment violation. During this traffic stop, Driskell was able to retrieve a pipe used to smoke methamphetamine and other drug paraphernalia
Investigators then went back to Hicks's residence to arrest him for a contempt of court warrant. Upon arrival agents made contact with Hicks, took him into custody and searched Hicks incident to this arrest. Agents then retrieved a digital scale from Hicks's right front pocket with methamphetamine residue on it. Also, there were empty sandwich bags lying on the couch in the living room along with another set of digital scales lying in a chair in the same room which could all be seen in plain view. Through Sgt Driskell's training and experience scales and baggies are commonly used by illegal narcotics dealers to distribute narcotics.
On the 27th day of January, 2020, Agents Driskell and Brogan met with a Confidential Informant that has proven to be creditable in the past, that stated that he could buy methamphetamine from Desmond Hicks in Laurel, MS. At that time arrangements were made to purchase meth from Hicks at his mobile home at Twin Pines Trailer Park. . . The C.I. then departed the predetermined location and went to Hicks' mobile home where Hicks sold the C.I. approximately 2 grams of a white crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine. . . Sgt. Driskell performed a field test on the suspected meth and the test indicated positive for methamphetamine. Also, after reviewing the video Sgt. Driskell identified the individual that sold the meth as Desmond Hicks.
On the 13th day of January 13, 2020,[1] Sgt. Driskell and Agent Brogan conducted surveillance at 1350 Ellisville Blvd. lot F being the home of Desmond Hicks. During this time, agents saw several cars pull up to the trailer, stay only minutes, and then leave. Through Sgt. Driskell's training and experience this is a common way that drugs are distributed from a residence. Also, on the same date Sgt. Driskell spoke with a C.I. who stated that he/she had spoken with Hicks and that Hicks had some meth for sale at his home at this time.
Due to the above facts and circumstances Sgt. Driskell is requesting a search warrant for 1350 Ellisville Blvd. lot F in Twin Pines Trailer Park Laurel, MS. [13-1].

On the night of February 13, 2020, Hayes “noticed blue lights outside of her home” and went to the door. [22], ¶¶ 11-12. Before she could get there, “Doe Officer 1 kicked the door open” and “Officer Jake Driskell and Doe Officers 2-5 then entered [her] home.” Id. ¶ 12. Hayes was told to “[s]hut up and sit down” by Doe Officer 1 while the officers questioned Hicks and searched for drugs. Id. ¶ 14. Hayes alleges that Officer Driskell told Hicks “[t]ell us where the drugs are. If you tell us we'll let her (Ms. Hayes) go. You shouldn't want her (Ms. Hayes) to go to jail.” Id. ¶ 17.

After Hicks failed to reveal the location of the alleged drugs, Officer Driskell said “fine we'll take her to jail to piss her off and to teach her a lesson.” Id. ¶ 21. Hayes asked Officer Driskell “multiple times why they were there” but was never shown the search warrant. Id. ¶ 23. Officer Driskell “ordered [Hayes] to call someone to pick up her children, and she called her aunt Tyra Blackmon.” Id. ¶ 27. Hayes requested the reason for her arrest and “Doe Officer 2 responded that she was being arrested for conspiracy, but Officer Driskell told [Hayes] that she was being arrested for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute.” Id. ¶ 29. After her aunt arrived, Hayes was handcuffed. Id. ¶ 30.

Hayes alleges that “Doe Officer 1 asked, ‘[a]re you really going to take [Hayes] to jail?' Officer Driskell answered, ‘[y]es, we'll do it to piss her off.'” Id. ¶ 31. Hayes was taken to jail and allowed to make a phone call. However, she “was told that she would probably not see a judge until after the weekend since it was President's [D]ay weekend.” Id. ¶ 34. She was also told “she could not be given a bond until she saw a judge.” Id. “That same evening, the Jones County Sheriff's Department arrested [Chloe] Morgan for possession of drugs. Chloe Morgan was processed by the


Jones County Sheriff's [Department.]” Id. ¶ 35. “While [Hayes] waited to see if she was going to be given a bond or an initial appearance, Chloe Morgan was given a bond, and released by the Jones County Sheriff's Department within two hour[s] of being arrested.” Id. ¶ 36.

On February 14, 2020, Hayes asked a guard “when they would set her Court or bail hearing” and was told “she was not on the list to be taken in front of a judge.” Id. ¶ 37. Hayes did not have a bond or initial appearance hearing on February 14, 2020. However, “Desmond Hicks was given an initial appearance on February 14, 2020.” Id. ¶ 38. The following day, Hayes was released and told that “on the orders of Officer Driskell, the charges were being dropped.” Id. ¶ 41. Officer Driskell “never filed an affidavit or an arrest warrant to place [Hayes] in criminal proceedings.” Id. ¶ 43.

Hayes alleges that “Officer Driskell and/or the Jones County Sheriff's Department sent [her] mugshot to The Laurel Leader Call along with the alleged charge of ‘Possession of Methamphetamine-Warrant' knowing that this charge was false and/or fabricated.” Id. ¶ 45.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” FED. R. CIV. P. 12(c). “A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is subject to the same standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).” Doe v. MySpace, Inc., 528 F.3d 413, 418 (5th Cir. 2008) (citing Johnson v. Johnson, 385 F.3d 503, 529 (5th Cir. 2004)). To avoid dismissal, “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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). A claim is


facially plausible “when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937.

In deciding a Rule 12(c) motion, the Court accepts all well pleaded facts as true and views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Linicomn v. Hill, 902 F.3d 529, 533 (5th Cir. 2018). But “the complaint must allege more than labels and conclusions.” Jebaco, Inc. v. Harrah's Operating Co., Inc., 587 F.3d 314, 318 (5th Cir. 2009). “[A] formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do, and factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Jebaco, 587 F.3d at 318. “While legal conclusions can provide the complaint's framework, they must be supported by factual allegations.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 664. “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. at 678.


Officer Driskell contends that he is entitled to qualified immunity on all federal claims against him because Hayes' Amended Complaint [24] failed to plead facts establishing a constitutional violation to overcome qualified immunity. Officer Driskell asserts that he had “arguable probable cause to arrest [Hayes] as there is a fair probability that [Hayes] was aware of, and connected to, Hicks' actions.” [25], pg. 18.

Qualified immunity is “an entitlement not to stand trial or face the other burdens of litigation.” Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526, 105 S.Ct. 2806, 86 L.Ed.2d 411 (1985). The privilege is “an...

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