Spicer v. Burden, 3:19-cv-1472 (JAM)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Citation564 F.Supp.3d 22
Docket Number3:19-cv-1472 (JAM)
Parties Eddie SPICER, Plaintiff, v. BURDEN et al., Defendants.
Decision Date30 September 2021

Eddie Spicer, Norwalk, CT, Pro Se.

Richard C. Buturla, Richard J. Buturla, Warren L. Holcomb, Berchem Moses P.C., Milford, CT, for Defendants.


Jeffrey Alker Meyer, United States District Judge

The plaintiff claims that he had a constitutional right to refuse to tell the police who he was after they pulled him over for driving a car through stop signs at traffic intersections. He demands that the police pay him $60 million for arresting, searching, and jailing him after he repeatedly refused to say who he was. Because the plaintiff has not shown that he had a constitutional right to refuse to identify himself to the police, I will grant the police defendantsmotion for summary judgment.


Plaintiff Eddie Spicer has filed a pro se complaint arising from his arrest by the local police in Stratford, Connecticut. The complaint names as defendants the Town of Stratford as well as several individual police officers.1 I will first review the allegations of the complaint before reviewing the summary judgment record.

The complaint

According to the verified complaint, Spicer and a "guest" were in a "conveyance" that was stopped by two Stratford police officers on the evening of July 6, 2017.2 Spicer was not engaged in any criminal activity.3 When Spicer asked one of the officers what crime he was suspected of committing and when she did not give him an answer, he refused to identify himself.4 He was forced out of his "conveyance" and "immediately cuffed" and then searched without his consent.5

Two more police officers soon arrived on the scene.6 They searched the "conveyance" without his consent or a warrant.7 In addition, one of the officers searched Spicer without probable cause or a warrant.8 Spicer was arrested but not read his Miranda rights.9

According to Spicer, he did not resist arrest or do anything to provoke the arrest.10 He was arrested without cause and without a warrant.11 His identity still was unknown to the officers, and he was taken to jail as a "John Doe" defendant.12 One of never be let out of jail if he did not tell the police who he was.13

Spicer spent an unpleasant night in the police jail before being transported the next day to the Bridgeport Correctional Center where he remained for several more days.14 Then on July 10, 2021, Spicer was released but forced to return to the Stratford police department to be fingerprinted and then searched and jailed by another police officer for an hour before again being released.15

The complaint alleges several causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The first three counts allege that the defendants violated Spicer's right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment, his right to due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, and his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.16 The last two counts of the complaint allege that the Town of Stratford should be liable for maintaining a pattern and practice of depriving liberties and property as well as for failing to properly train and supervise its employees.17 Spicer demands $10 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.18

Summary judgment

The defendants have moved for summary judgment.19 In accordance with the Court's local rules for the filing of a summary judgment motion, they have filed a statement of material facts along with supporting admissible evidence.20 They have also served on Spicer the notice that is required under the Court's local rules to ensure that a pro se party is advised in plain and easily understood terms of the necessity to file an objection to a motion for summary judgment and how to properly dispute the moving party's statement of facts by means of a counter-statement of material facts with specific citations to evidence.21

I granted Spicer's motion for an extension of time to file his opposition to the motion for summary judgment.22 But rather than file an opposition in the form he was told he must follow, Spicer instead filed a motion to strike the defendantssummary judgment motion as "immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous" under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f).23 His motion to strike does not include any fact statement or evidentiary materials as required in order to properly dispute the statement of facts filed by the defendants with their summary judgment motion. See D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 56(a)(1)-(2).24

As a result of Spicer's failure to file a statement of facts as required under Local Civil Rule 56(a)(2), I will credit the statement of facts filed by the defendants under Local Civil Rule 56(a)(1) to the extent these stated facts have been properly supported by evidence that is admissible for summary judgment purposes. See D. Conn. L. Civ. R. 56(a)(3) ; see also Grimes v. McDonald , 2021 WL 3773327, at *2 (D. Conn. 2021) (similarly crediting defendants’ properly supported statement because of pro se plaintiff's failure to properly dispute the defendants’ version of facts despite being advised of the necessity to do so and how to do so); Mayo v. City of New Britain , 2021 WL 681146, at *3-4 (D. Conn.) (same), appeal dismissed sub nom. Mayo v. Fernandez , 2021 WL 3783099 (2d Cir. 2021).

The following facts as stated by the defendants and supported by their evidentiary materials are accepted as true for purposes of this ruling. Spicer was driving a Chevy Trailblazer on the night of July 6, 2017 when he ran through two stop signs at intersections in Stratford, Connecticut.25 Officer Burden conducted a motor vehicle stop.26 She asked Spicer for his identification but Spicer questioned why she needed to see his identification, although he did not dispute having driven through a stop sign.27 Officer Burden told him that she needed the identification because he was the driver of a vehicle that she had just seen commit a motor vehicle violation and she needed to identify him.28

Officer Burden told Spicer that, if he refused to identify himself, she would need to take him to the police department in order to obtain his identity.29 Spicer refused to identify himself on the ground that it was not "Nazi Germany."30

The police instructed Spicer to get out of the car, and he continued to refuse to produce any form of identification or state his name.31 The police then handcuffed Spicer, patted him down for officer safety, and placed him in the back of a police car.32

The passenger in the car driven by Spicer also refused to identify Spicer.33 She claimed to be the registered owner of the car but did not have proof of insurance.34

In the meantime, a trained police dog arrived on the scene and alerted for the presence of narcotics upon circling the car.35 The police then searched the car but did not find any narcotics or contraband.36

After Spicer was transported to the police station, he said that he would not be fingerprinted and photographed for booking purposes because "it was theft of privacy."37 Through further investigation the police determined Spicer's identify and that he had no apparent right to be driving the car because his Connecticut driver's license had been cancelled.38

The police charged Spicer with interference with a police officer ( Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-167a ) and with refusal to be fingerprinted ( Conn. Gen. Stat. § 29-12 ).39 He was also processed for motor vehicle offenses, including stop sign violations ( Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-301 ) and for failure to possess a driver's license ( Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-36(a) ).40

Spicer's bond was set at $25,000, and he was taken to court the next morning.41 The court eventually released Spicer several days later on July 10, 2017, subject to a condition that he report to the Stratford police department for fingerprinting.42 He reported to the police station and was fingerprinted.43


The principles governing the Court's review of a motion for summary judgment are well established. Summary judgment may be granted only if "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the party who opposes the motion for summary judgment and then decide if those facts would be enough—if eventually proved at trial—to allow a reasonable jury to decide the case in favor of the opposing party. See generally Tolan v. Cotton , 572 U.S. 650, 656–57, 134 S.Ct. 1861, 188 L.Ed.2d 895 (2014) (per curiam ); Benzemann v. Houslanger & Assocs., PLLC , 924 F.3d 73, 78 (2d Cir. 2019). Because Spicer is a pro se party, his submissions must be treated with special solicitude and afforded a liberal interpretation. See Harris v. Miller , 818 F.3d 49, 57 (2d Cir. 2016).44

Fourth Amendment search and seizure

The Fourth Amendment protects "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const. amend. IV. I conclude on the basis of the summary judgment record that there are no genuine issues of fact to support Spicer's claim for a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Was it lawful for the police to stop Spicer? Yes, it was. It does not violate the Fourth Amendment for the police to stop a motor vehicle that they observe violating a traffic law. See Whren v. United States , 517 U.S. 806, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 135 L.Ed.2d 89 (1996). Having seen Spicer run through two stop signs, the police had probable cause to stop Spicer's car for motor vehicle violations. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-301(c) (stop sign law).45

Was it lawful for the police to require Spicer to get out of his car? Yes, it was. It does not violate the Fourth Amendment for the police to require the driver of a car that has been stopped for a...

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4 cases
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of New York
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    ...of police officers in connection with the investigation and arrest of suspects prior to conviction and sentencing.” Spicer v. Burden, 564 F.Supp.3d 22, 31 (D. Conn. 2021) (citing Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 318-19 (1986)); City of Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244 (1983). A......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • 18 Enero 2023
    ...ECF No. 48 at 57-58. Once they lawfully arrested him for a crime, the defendants could search plaintiff's mouth. See Spicer v. Burden, 564 F.Supp.3d 22, 30 (D. Conn. 2021) (“Upon arresting a suspect the police may engage in a search incident to arrest without additional grounds to believe t......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • 17 Enero 2023
    ...to support their motion for summary judgment, then a court may fully credit the defendants' evidence. See, e.g., Spicer v. Burden, 564 F.Supp.3d 22, 27 (D. Conn. 2021). Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions . . . by a prisone......
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    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
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    ...to support their motion for summary judgment, then a court may fully credit the defendants' evidence. See, e.g., Spicer v. Burden, 564 F.Supp.3d 22, 27 (D. Conn. 2021). Hill's claims implicate the basic constitutional rights of prisoners to intimate bodily privacy and to be free from the us......

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