Wilson v. Jara

Citation866 F.Supp.2d 1270
Decision Date17 October 2011
Docket NumberNo. CIV 10–0797 JB/WPL.,CIV 10–0797 JB/WPL.
PartiesMartha WILSON and Timothy Chabot, Plaintiffs, v. Albuquerque Police Officers Jennifer JARA and Daniel Vazquez, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of New Mexico

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Joseph P. Kennedy, Shannon L. Kennedy, Kennedy Law Firm, Albuquerque, NM, for Plaintiffs.

Stephanie M. Griffin, Benjamin I. Sherman, Tarra Leigh Hoden, Assistant County Attorneys, City of Albuquerque, Albuquerque, NM, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES O. BROWNING, District Judge.

THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff Martha Wilson's Motion for Summary Judgment, filed July 6, 2011 (Doc. 31). The Court held a hearing on October 4, 2011. The primary issues are: (i) whether Defendants Jennifer Jara and Daniel Vazquez seized Plaintiff Wilson in her home in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution; (ii) whether Jara and Vazquez searched Wilson's home in violation of her Fourth–Amendment rights; (iii) whether Jara and Vazquez arrested Wilson without probable cause when they arrested her for resisting arrest and obstruction; (iv) whether qualified immunity shields Jara and Vazquez from civil liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and (v) whether the Family Violence and Protection Act, N.M.S.A.1978, § 40–13–7, shields the Defendants from civil liability. The Court concludes that Jara and Vazquez unconstitutionally seized Wilson in her home and that the Defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity on that claim. The Court will therefore grant Wilson's Motion for Summary Judgment as it pertains to the unconstitutional seizure. Because of factual disputes, the Court will deny Wilson's Motion for Summary Judgment as it relates to all other claims that Wilson asserts in Count III.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

While the Defendants dispute many of Wilson's statements of allegedly undisputed facts, most, if not all, of the material facts are undisputed. 1

On August 16, 2007, Wilson and Plaintiff Timothy Chabot, Wilson's son, were at their home, an apartment on Tramway Boulevard in Albuquerque, New Mexico. See Deposition of Martha Wilson at 30:15–19 (taken June 8, 2011), filed July 6, 2011 (Doc. 31–1) (Wilson Depo.”); Plaintiff Martha Wilson's Motion for Summary Judgment ¶ 1, at 1, filed July 6, 2011 (Doc. 31) (“Motion SJ”) (setting forth this fact); Defendants' Response to Plaintiff Martha Wilson's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Count III at 2, filed July 27, 2011 (Doc. 38) (“Response”) (admitting this fact). Wilson shared her home with T. Chabot and her daughter, Haley Chabot. See Wilson Depo. at 28:24–21:5; Motion SJ ¶ 2, at 1(setting forth this fact); Response at 2 (admitting this fact). Jara and Vazquez were dispatched to Wilson's home on a complaint about two males fighting. See Deposition of Jennifer Jara at 32:2–4, filed July 6, 2011 (Doc. 31–2) (Jara Depo.”); Motion SJ ¶ 3, at 1(setting forth this fact); Response at 2 (admitting this fact). H. Chabot made a 911 call to report: (i) an altercation between her friend and her brother, T Chabot; (ii) that she did not know if T. Chabot had weapons; and (iii) that T. Chabot had grabbed Wilson by the arms. See Albuquerque Police Department Research and Recording Incident Recall History, filed July 27, 2011 (Doc. 38–1) (“Incident History”); Dispatch Recording of Haley Chabot's 911 Call (dated August 16, 2007), filed July 27, 2011 (Doc. 38–2) (“H.'s 911 Call”); Response ¶ A, at 6 (setting forth this fact).2 Wilson's neighbor, Lydia Deraymus, also made a 911 call, reporting a woman screaming for help, and a neighbor named Dennis made a 911 call, reporting fighting and yelling. See Dispatch Recording of Lydia Deraymus's 911 Call at 3:14–17 (dated August 16, 2007), filed July 27, 2011 (Doc. 38–3) (“L.'s 911 Call”); Dispatch Recording of Dennis' 911 Call at 3:18–20 (dated August 16, 2007), filed July 27, 2011 (Doc. 38–4) (“D.'s 911 Call”); Response ¶¶ B–C, at 6 (setting forth these facts). Jara made contact with H. Chabot in the apartment complex upon arrival, and H. Chabot stated that her brother, T. Chabot, had spat on her and that he was still at home. See Jara Depo. at 35: 22–25; Motion SJ ¶ 4, at 2 (setting forth this fact); Response at 2 (admitting this fact). H. Chabot also stated that T. Chabot was intoxicated and belligerent, and had yelled that he wanted to kill someone. See Jara's Police Report at 1 (dated August 16, 2007), filed July 27, 2011 (Doc. 38–5) (“Jara Report”); Jara Depo. at 34:23–35:7; Response ¶ D, at 6 (setting forth this fact). H. Chabot was outside the home at the time of the interview. See Jara Depo. at 33: 7–8; Motion SJ ¶ 5, at 2(setting forth this fact); Response at 2 (admitting this fact). After speaking with H. Chabot, the disturbance call turned into a domestic violence call. See Jara Depo. at 35:17–20; Response ¶ G, at 7 (setting forth this fact). At this point, the Defendants had probable cause to arrest T. Chabot for domestic violence. See Jara Depo. at 21:20–22:21; Response ¶ H, at 7 (setting forth this fact). The alleged incident had occurred anywhere from one hour to two hours before the police arrived. See Wilson Depo. at 42:17–18; Motion SJ ¶ 6, at 2(setting forth this fact); Response at 2 (admitting this fact).

Vazquez knew that H. Chabot did not intend to return home that evening. See Deposition of Daniel Vazquez at 26:8–13 (taken July 8, 2011), filed July 6, 2011 (Doc. 31–3) (Vazquez Depo.”); Motion SJ ¶ 7, at 2 (setting forth this fact).3 After interviewing H. Chabot, Jara and Vazquez went to the Wilson home and knocked on the door. See Vazquez Depo. at 31: 3–10; Motion SJ ¶ 8, at 2 (setting forth this fact); Response at 2 (admitting this fact). Jara and Vazquez announced themselves, remaining outside the apartment, and Wilson answered the door. See Vazquez Depo. at 31:8–25; Deposition of Daniel Vazquez at 32:1 (taken July 8, 2011), filed July 27, 2011 (Doc. 38–6) (Vazquez Depo.”); Deposition of Launa Markel at (taken November 30, 2010), filed July 27, 2011 (Doc. 38–7) (Markel Depo.”); Response ¶ I, at 7 (setting forth this fact). Wilson's apartment is at the top of a stairwell. See Vazquez Depo. at 29:18–20; Response ¶ F, at 7 (setting forth this fact). There was no disturbance at the apartment when they arrived. See Vazquez Depo. at 36: 10–12; Motion SJ ¶ 9, at 2 (setting forth this fact); Response at 2 (admitting this fact).

When Wilson answered the door, Jara and Vazquez informed Wilson that H. Chabot indicated that T. Chabot had committed domestic violence upon her and requested to speak with T. Chabot. See Transcript of Officer Jara's Belt Tape at 2:18–3:10 (August 16, 2007) filed July 27, 2011 (Doc. 3 8–8) (“Jara's Belt Tape”); Response ¶ J, at 7 (setting forth this fact). Wilson explained to Jara and Vazquez that H. Chabot had a male friend over and that an argument between the friend and T. Chabot “escalated into a fight.” Wilson Depo. at 44:2–5; Motion SJ ¶ 10, at 2 (setting forth this fact); Jara's Belt Tape at 3:2–8; Response ¶ 10, at 7 (disputing this fact).4 Jara and Vazquez told Wilson that they needed to conduct the investigation into the domestic violence allegation, and that required speaking to T. Chabot. See Jara Depo. at 39:23–24; Motion SJ ¶ 11, at 2; Response at 2 (admitting this fact). Wilson stated multiple times that T. Chabot was “in bed,” and “not doing anything,” in response to Jara and Vazquez' requests to speak with him.5 Jara told Wilson that it did not matter that T. Chabotwas in bed, and, when asked, Wilson agreed that T. Chabot was intoxicated. See Jara's Belt Tape at 3:12–15; Response ¶ L, at 8 (setting forth this fact).

Wilson expressed concern that the officers might tase her son. See Jara's Belt Tape at 3:17–25; Response ¶ M, at 8 (setting forth this fact). Jara and Vazquez responded that they had no intention of tasing T. Chabot, repeated their request to speak to T. Chabot, and stated that they did not want any problems with Wilson. See Jara's Belt Tape at 3:17–4:25; Response ¶ M, at 8 (setting forth this fact). Wilson continued to refuse to retrieve T. Chabot, and denied that Jara and Vazquez were having a problem with her. See Jara's Belt Tape at 5:1–17; Response ¶ N, at 8 (setting forth this fact). Jara and Vazquez ordered Wilson to go get her son or they would come in to get him. See Jara Depo. at 45:2–12, 61:22–23, 62:15–17; Motion SJ ¶ 13, at 2 (setting forth this fact); Jara's Belt Tape at 6:15–7:4; Response ¶ O, at 8.6 Wilson asserts that she did not feel free to terminate the encounter. See Wilson Depo. at 45:21–46:8; Motion SJ ¶ 14, at 2 (setting forth this fact).7 After Jara stated that they could go in to get him, Wilson responded that she would retrieve T. Chabot. See Jara's Belt Tape at 6:15–7:4; Response ¶ Q, at 8 (setting forth this fact). Jara and Vazquez allowed Wilson to retrieve her son alone, despite officer safety concerns. See Vazquez Depo. at 44:1–13; Response ¶ Q, at 8 (setting forth this fact). Wilson went to retrieve her son and voluntarily left the door open. See Jara Depo. at 49:15–18; Deposition of Martha Wilson at 46:9–19 (dated June 8, 2011), filed July 27, 2011 (Doc. 38–9) (Wilson Depo.”); Motion SJ at ¶ 16, at 3 (setting forth this fact); Response ¶ R, at 9 (setting forth this fact).8 Jara would not have let Wilson close the door and terminate the encounter. See Jara Depo. at 49:15–50:4, 62:15–21; Motion SJ ¶ 15, at 2 (setting forth this fact).9

Wilson retrieved T. Chabot, and he stood in the doorframe, but still in the interior of the apartment. See Wilson Depo. at 47:8–13; Motion SJ ¶ 17, at 3 (setting forth this fact).10 Jara and Vazquez asked T. Chabot to speak with them at the bottom of the stairs. See Vazquez Depo. at 49:9–12; Motion SJ ¶ 18, at 3 (setting forth this fact); Response ¶ T, at 9 (setting forth this fact).11 Wilson responded that T. Chabot did not need to go downstairs with them, and Vazquez repeated his request. See Jara's Belt Tape at 7:14–23; ...

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