Macareno v. Thomas

Decision Date08 May 2019
Docket NumberCase No. 2:18-cv-00421-RAJ
Citation378 F.Supp.3d 933
Parties Wilson Rodriguez MACARENO, Plaintiff, v. Joel THOMAS, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Washington

Glenda Melinda Aldana Madrid, Leila Kang, Matt Adams, Aaron Korthuis, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Seattle, WA, for Plaintiff.

Rachel B. Turpin, Kenyon Disend, Issaquah, WA, Derek Casey Chen, Shannon M. Ragonesi, Keating Bucklin McCormack Inc PS, Seattle, WA, for Defendants.

The Honorable Richard A. Jones, United States District Judge

This matter comes before the Court on the parties' motions for summary judgment and partial summary judgment. Dkt. ## 25, 57, 60. The Court will also address Defendants' motion to seal and the ACLU of Washington's (ACLU-WA) motion for leave to file an amicus brief. Dkt. ## 36, 45.

For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant Officers' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 25); GRANTS Defendant City of Tukwila's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 57); and GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 60). The Court also GRANTS Defendants' motion to seal and the ACLU-WA's motion for leave to file an amicus brief. Dkt. ## 36, 45.


Plaintiff Wilson Rodriguez Macareno claims he was unlawfully arrested on February 8, 2018 after calling the police about a trespasser on his property. Dkt. # 1, ¶ 1. Defendants Peter Tiemann and Art Stephenson, officers with the Tukwila Police Department (TPD), soon arrived on scene and confronted the suspected trespasser. Dkt. # 26, Ex. A at 0:00-2:00; Dkt. # 28, Ex. A at 0:00-2:40; Dkt. # 30, Ex A. at 0:00-0:50. Minutes later, two more TPD officers, Defendants Joel Thomas and Craig Gardner, arrived. Dkt. # 29, Ex. A at 0:00-0:50. While Stephenson talked to the suspect, Thomas requested identification (ID) from Plaintiff and a person identified later as Plaintiff's co-worker. Id. at 2:00-20. Plaintiff and the co-worker, who had initially seen the suspect on the property, complied by providing Washington state IDs. Id. at 2:24, 4:46; Dkt. # 60 at 3. Stephenson continued to investigate the trespass and eventually issued a warning order prohibiting the suspect from reentering the property. Dkt. # 26, Ex. A at 12:30-13:30.

While this was ongoing, Thomas relayed the identifying information on the Washington state IDs over police radio dispatch. Dkt. # 29, Ex. A at 4:48-6:15. The dispatcher found no hits in the criminal justice database for the co-worker, but reported that Plaintiff was an alien unlawfully present due to an order of removal or exclusion from the United States. Id. at 8:40-9:00. Overhearing what was said, Gardner told Tiemann to stay with Plaintiff. Id. at 9:29. Gardner and Thomas then returned to the patrol vehicle where Thomas used his mobile laptop to review information from "ACCESS," a law enforcement data system. Dkt. # 18, ¶ 2; Dkt. # 18-2. The ACCESS system identified Plaintiff as having an outstanding administrative warrant for removal and provided a Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) phone number to confirm the warrant and the availability of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer. Dkt. # 29, Ex. A at 9:40-12:36; Dkt. # 18-2; Dkt. # 39, ¶ 7. After reviewing the information, Thomas proceeded to call LESC. Dkt. # 29, Ex. A at 13:13.

Tiemann stayed with Plaintiff as instructed. Dkt. # 30, Ex. A at 25. The two engaged in conversation and Plaintiff began offering specifics on his situation—that he was "illegal," had three children, and "had [this] problem for a long time." Id. at 13:40-13:45. Plaintiff also made comments about the immigration system, stating "I break the law but ... I don't know what I did." Id. at 18:30-35. Tiemann responded that he "d[id] not know a lot about immigration," and asked Plaintiff whether it made a difference that his children were born in the U.S. Id. at 19:05-08. Gardner and Stephenson rejoined soon thereafter, and Gardner asked Plaintiff if he had this warrant outstanding for a while. Id. at 26:57-27:27. After some initial confusion, Plaintiff answered affirmatively. Id. Gardner said Thomas was "calling [ICE] and seeing what they want to do," but told Plaintiff that "we don't have you for charges." Id. at 27:25-27:35. Gardner proceeded to handcuff and search Plaintiff, and told him that he would be free to go if ICE did not want to confirm the warrant or send a detainer. Id. at 27:50-28:00. The officers then led Plaintiff toward the patrol cars but confirmed that he was not yet under arrest. Id. at 31:40.

At this point, Stephenson and Tiemann left the scene to respond to another call. Dkt. # 26, Ex. B, at 8:00-8:24. Plaintiff remained with Gardner and Thomas. After receiving confirmation that the warrant was valid, and that ICE wanted Plaintiff detained, Thomas agreed to bring him over to the detention facility. Dkt. # 39 at 14. Thomas searched Plaintiff, placed him into the back of the patrol car, and then, together with Gardner, drove him to the detention facility. Dkt. # 29, Ex. A, at 50:00-60:00. Once there, Gardner asked the ICE agents if they had a copy of the detainer. Id. at 59:52-59:55. One responded that he had "nothing right now." Id. at 59:57. The TPD officers elected to remain at the facility until ICE could obtain a copy of a detainer. Id. at 1:07:54-58.

While they waited, Gardner and Thomas gave ICE the identifying information for Plaintiff's co-worker; they also commented that their ability to receive photographs of suspected removable aliens from ICE was "a great service to have." Id. at 1:11:47-1:13:00; Dkt. # 61-5 at 10. Gardner then made comments about the fact that Washington issues state IDs to everyone, which led to a discussion on states that issue IDs to "illegals" and their compliance with the REAL ID Act. Id. at 1:13:30-1:14:00. Gardner expressed his hope that the courts will settle these issues "during these four years," before instructing Thomas to turn off his bodycam. Id. at 1:14:30-1:15:00. ICE eventually provided Defendants with a copy of the detainer, concluding the encounter. Dkt. # 39 at 14.

Plaintiff brings this action and alleges Defendants Thomas, Gardner, Tiemann, and Stephenson (collectively, "Defendant Officers") and Defendant City of Tukwila (altogether, "Defendants") wrongfully seized him in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant Officers move for partial summary judgment on the issues of qualified immunity and punitive damages, and Defendant City of Tukwila moves for summary judgment on Plaintiff's Monell claim. Dkt. ## 25, 57. Plaintiff opposes and moves for summary judgment on his section 1983 claim against all Defendants.1 Dkt. # 60.


Before turning to the parties' summary judgment motions, the Court will address Defendants' motion to seal and the ACLU-WA's motion for leave to file an amicus brief.

A. Defendants' motion to seal

Defendants move to seal the order of removal issued for Plaintiff by the United States Immigration Court, attached as Exhibit B to the Declaration of Derek Chen. Dkt. # 36.

Local Rule 5(g) permits sealing where a statute, rule, or prior court order expressly authorizes the party to file the document under seal. Defendants note that Local Rule 5.2(c) requires this Court to seal the administrative record of a proceeding relating to an order of removal. Dkt. # 36. While Defendants move to seal the actual order of removal, and not the underlying record, the Court finds good cause to keep sensitive information about Plaintiff's immigration status from public view. Therefore, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion to seal.

B. The ACLU-WA's motion for leave to file amicus brief

ACLU-WA moves to file an amicus brief opposing Defendant Officers' motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity. Dkt. # 45. Defendants oppose the motion. Dkt. # 52.

District courts may consider amicus briefs from non-parties "concerning legal issues that have potential ramifications beyond the parties directly involved or if the amicus has ‘unique information or perspective that can help the court beyond the help that the lawyers for the parties are able to provide.’ " NGV Gaming, Ltd. v. Upstream Point Molate, LLC , 355 F. Supp. 2d. 1061, 1067 (N.D. Cal. 2005) (quoting Cobell v. Norton , 246 F. Supp. 2d. 59, 62 (D.D.C. 2003) and Ryan v. Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n , 125 F.3d 1062, 1064 (7th Cir. 1997) ). As a nonprofit legal organization with a focus on civil liberties, the ACLU-WA claims it has a strong interest in ensuring Washington law enforcement agencies comply with federal and Washington law. Dkt. # 45 at 2. Defendants contend that the amicus brief fails to add a new perspective to this case and simply reiterates Plaintiff's analysis. Dkt. # 52 at 1.

The Court finds the information contained in the amicus brief to be helpful, particularly on the changing nature of ICE warrants and the authority of local officers to enforce them. See, e.g. , Dkt. # 45 at 12-14. This information further demonstrates that the issues in this case have potential ramifications beyond the parties directly involved, most notably in the policing of civil immigration violations by local law enforcement. NGV Gaming, Ltd. , 355 F. Supp. 2d. at 1067. Lastly, the brief responds directly to Defendants' contention that the legal authority is unclear on the ability of local officers to act on ICE detainers. Dkt. # 45 at 11. To this extent, the Court finds the amicus brief useful and therefore GRANTS the ACLU-WA's motion.

C. Motions for summary judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). Where the moving party will...

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