United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
F. McDonald Greenville, United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the court on the defendants' motion for
summary judgment (doc. 33). The plaintiff, represented by
counsel, was arrested for filing a false police report. The
defendant Jawarski Shelton is an investigator with the
Laurens County Sheriff's Office (“LCSO”). In
his complaint (doc. 1), the plaintiff alleges a Fourth
Amendment claim filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against Inv. Shelton and state law claims of malicious
prosecution, abuse of process, and intentional infliction of
emotional distress against the LCSO. Pursuant to the
provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil
Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.), this magistrate judge is
authorized to review all pretrial matters in cases filed
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and to submit findings and
recommendations to the District Court.
incident report filed by responding LCSO Deputy Corporal
Cook, on March 29, 2015, the plaintiff called 911 to report
that his business partner Billy James Hayes had burst into
his office and pointed a handgun and threatened him (docs.
33-2, pp. 7-8). The plaintiff told Cpl. Cook (and provided a
written statement) that he and Hayes were in a relationship
and that there was a history of physical violence between
them. Hayes was interviewed at the scene, admitting that he
burst into the office but denying that he had a gun. The
office was equipped with a video camera, and according to
Cpl. Cook's incident report, Inv. Shelton and another
LCSO officer, Lt. Crain, reviewed a video recording of the
incident: “Per Lt. Crain the footage displays a handgun
in Hayes' possession around the time frame of the events
described.” Hayes was then arrested and charged with
pointing and presenting a firearm (id.).
April 20, 2015, the plaintiff signed a pre-printed form
requesting the charge against Hayes be dismissed. The
following statement is handwritten under the plaintiff's
The defendant is my business partner (Hayes Ambulance
Service). I will have to deal with him concerning business
matters and continue our business association until the
business is dissolved. I do not feel threatened by the
defendant, although there have been previous verbal &
physical threats; none involving weapons.
33-2, p. 9). In a followup report dated May 12, 2015, Inv.
Shelton reported having “learned of a video recording
system in the building. The footage was reviewed and you
could see Mr. Hayes actually carrying a handgun in his hand
when he came around the corner where [the plaintiff] was
located at” (doc. 40-2, p. 10). Later that month, on
May 22, 2015, Inv. Shelton appeared before a local magistrate
to swear out a warrant against the plaintiff, charging that
“on or about March 29, 2015 in the County of Laurens,
[the plaintiff] did knowingly and willfully file a false
police report to the Laurens County Sheriff's Office in
reference to pointing and presenting a firearm which is a
felony” (doc. 33-2, p. 11). The plaintiff was arrested
on the warrant on June 18, 2015, but the case was dismissed
by the Laurens County Solicitor for lack of evidence on
September 28, 2015 (doc. 33-2, p. 10).
support of his motion for summary judgment, Inv. Shelton
provided his affidavit stating that he sought the warrant
against the plaintiff based on the plaintiff's affidavit
to the Solicitor “in which he indicates that he did not
feel threatened by Hayes and that there had been previous
verbal and physical threats but none involving weapons”
(doc. 33-2, Shelton aff. ¶ 11).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 states, as to a party who has
moved for summary judgment: “The court shall grant
summary judgment 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). As to
the first of these determinations, a fact is deemed
“material” if proof of its existence or
nonexistence would affect the disposition of the case under
the applicable law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue of material fact is
“genuine” if the evidence offered is such that a
reasonable jury might return a verdict for the non-movant.
Id. at 257. In determining whether a genuine issue
has been raised, the court must construe all inferences and
ambiguities against the movant and in favor of the non-moving
party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654,
party seeking summary judgment shoulders the initial burden
of demonstrating to the district court that there is no
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). Once the movant has
made this threshold demonstration, the non-moving party, to
survive the motion for summary judgment, may not rest on the
allegations averred in his pleadings; rather, he must
demonstrate that specific, material facts exist that give
rise to a genuine issue. Id. at 324. Under this
standard, the existence of a mere scintilla of evidence in
support of the plaintiff's position is insufficient to
withstand the summary judgment motion. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 252. Likewise, conclusory allegations or denials,
without more, are insufficient to preclude the granting of
the summary judgment motion. Id. at 248. “Only
disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of
summary judgment. Factual disputes that are irrelevant or
unnecessary will not be counted.” Id.
Amendment - False Arrest
context of arrests, 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.
Before an arrest warrant is issued, the Fourth Amendment
requires a truthful factual showing in the affidavit used to
establish probable cause. Franks v. Delaware, 438
U.S. 154, 165-66 (1978). Probable cause means that the
“facts and circumstances within the officer's
knowledge [ ] are sufficient to warrant a prudent person . .
. in believing . . . that the suspect has committed . . . an
offense.” United States v. Williams, 10 F.3d
1070, 1073-74 (4th Cir. 1993). Intentional material omissions
in the supporting affidavit may provide a basis to challenge
the finding of probable cause of the resulting warrant.
United States v. Colkley, 899 F.2d 297, 301-02
(4thCir. 1990); see also United States v.
Stanert, 762 F.2d 775, 781 (9th Cir. 1985)
(“by reporting less than the total story, an affiant
can manipulate the inferences a magistrate will
draw.”). “Where an officer knows, or has reason
to know, that he has materially misled a magistrate on the
basis for a finding of probable cause, . . . the shield of
qualified immunity is lost.” Golino v. City of New
Haven, 950 F.2d 864, 871 (2d Cir. 1991), cert.
Denied, 505 U.S. 1221 (1992). However, negligent
omissions will not undermine the affidavit. United States
v. McCarty, 36 F.3d 1349, 1356 (5th Cir.
reviewing the affidavits and the supporting documents and
video submitted by the parties, the undersigned finds that
issues of material fact exist on the plaintiff's Fourth
Amendment claim. Viewing the evidence in a light most
favorable to the non-moving plaintiff, as this court must do
when considering summary judgment, Inv. Shelton provided a
sworn affidavit to the local magistrate that the plaintiff
filed a false police report that Hayes pointed and presented
a firearm at him. Inv. Shelton did so after comparing the
plaintiff's two statements, the first to responding
officers reporting Hayes' conduct with a gun (doc. 33-2,
pp. 5-6), and the second to the Solicitor the following
month, stating, “I do not feel threatened by the
defendant [Hayes], although there have been previous verbal
& physical threats; none involving weapons” (doc .
33-2, p. 9). While Inv. Shelton believes the second statement
belies the first, as argued by the plaintiff, the statements
are not necessarily inconsistent. The first statement
indicates that on March 29th, the plaintiff felt
threatened by Hayes's conduct with the gun: “I was
locked in my office and armed with a Glock 23. I did this for
my personal safety given Mr. Hayes' history of violence
and physical altercations with me” (doc. 33-2, p. 5).
The second statement, given on ...