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Mangual v. City of Worcester

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

January 23, 2018





         Hector L. Mangual (“Mangual” or “Plaintiff”) has filed a federal civil rights claim against the City of Worcester (“City”), and Detective Sgt. Matthew Early (“Det. Sgt. Early”), Detective Michael Hanlon (“Det. Hanlon”) and Detective Kellen Smith (“Det. Smith”) of the Worcester Police Department (the City, Det. Sgt. Early, and Dets. Hanlon and Smith collectively referred to as “Defendants”) under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for violation of his Constitutional due process rights, his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and his right to be free from use of excessive force against him. Mangual has also filed Massachusetts state law claims against the Defendants for violation of the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (“MCRA”), Mass.Gen.L. ch. 12, §§11-H-I, violation of the Massachusetts Privacy Act, Mass.Gen.L. ch. 214, §1B, conspiracy, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically, Mangual alleges that he was subjected to an unlawful strip and body cavity search and excessive force was used against him in an interrogation/holding room located at the Worcester Police Department, including officer(s) kicking him, slamming his face and refusing to loosen his handcuffs when he complained they were too tight.

         This Order and Memorandum of Decision addresses Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgmnet (Docket No. 71). For the reasons set forth below, that motion is allowed, in part and denied, in part.

         Standard of Review

          Summary Judgment is appropriate where, “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Carroll v. Xerox Corp., 294 F.3d 231, 236 (1st Cir. 2002) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “‘A “genuine” issue is one that could be resolved in favor of either party, and a “material fact” is one that has the potential of affecting the outcome of the case.” Sensing v. Outback Steakhouse of Florida, LLC, 575 F.3d 145, 152 (1st Cir. 2009) (quoting Calero-Cerezo v. U.S. Dep't. of Justice, 355 F.3d 6, 19 (1st Cir. 2004)).

         When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court construes the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and makes all reasonable inferences in favor thereof. Sensing, 575 F.3d at 153. The moving party bears the burden to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact within the record. Id., at 152. “‘Once the moving party has pointed to the absence of adequate evidence supporting the nonmoving party's case, the nonmoving party must come forward with facts that show a genuine issue for trial.'” Id. (citation to quoted case omitted). “‘[T]he nonmoving party “may not rest upon mere allegations or denials of the [movant's] pleading, but must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to each issue upon which [s/he] would bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial.” Id. (citation to quoted case omitted). The nonmoving party cannot rely on “conclusory allegations” or “improbable inferences”. Id. (citation to quoted case omitted). “‘The test is whether, as to each essential element, there is “sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.” ' ” Id. (citation to quoted case omitted).


         On October 24, 2011, Worcester Police Department (“WPD”) Vice Squad Detective Dana Randall (“Det. Randall”) was told by a confidential, reliable informant (“CI”) that Mangual was in possession of a large, black handgun, had boasted of committing a number of armed robberies in the Main South area of Worcester, and was headed to the Main South area pf the City with the intent to commit additional armed robberies and sell drugs. The CI provided Det. Randall with a detailed description of Mangual, including the clothes he was wearing and a distinct physical mark located on Mangual's neck. The CI also told Det. Randall that Mangual had a large amount of heroin on his person for sale, which was located in his buttock's area. As a result of Det. Randall receiving this information, he and five other detectives from the WPD Vice Squad, including Det. Sgt. Early and Dets. Smith and Hanlon, went to the Main South area to look for Mangual. The detectives were all in plain clothes wearing badges and/or clothing with the word “Police” displayed.

         At approximately 3:45 p.m., Mangual was walking to go catch a bus home around the area of Sycamore Street and Main Street, in the vicinity of a used car lot. He was walking towards City Hall. Out of nowhere, he was rushed by a number of men who grabbed him and handcuffed his hands behind his back. Based on the information they had that Mangual was armed, Dets. Smith and Randall conducted a pat frisk. One of the items recovered was what appeared to be a large frame semi-automatic handgun with “Smith and Wesson” printed on the handle; the hammer of the pistol was in the “cocked back” position. It was later determined that this “gun” was a replica and not a working firearm. Mangual's pockets were emptied and Det. Smith put all of his property into his baseball cap, including the “gun, ” a steak knife, $110.00, his wallet, and keys. Another police officer in a black vest patted Mangual's body all over and stated that Mangual was either “clear” or “clean.” Mangual was Mirandized and asked if he had any additional drugs or weapons on his person. Det.Sgt. Early advised him that he believed he had heroin on him and would allow him to retrieve the drugs so there would not be the necessity to conduct a search. Mangual denied having any drugs on his person.

         Mangual was unclear as to why he had been stopped and did not cooperate with the officers' attempts to conduct a more thorough search of his person. The officers put him inside a red SUV. Det. Sgt. Early and Mangual sat in the back seat and Dets. Hanlon and Smith sat in the front. Mangual asked why he was not being taken in the transportation wagon which had arrived at the scene. Det. Sgt. Early responded, “oh no, you're getting strip searched.” When they arrived in at the Worcester Police Station garage, Mangual claims that Det. Sgt. Early ordered his detectives to assure the cameras were off. Mangual was held outside the vehicle for a few moments and then another officer came out and said, “they're good.” Mangual was then brought inside and put into a cell. Per WPD Policy and Procedure 720, strip searches are not conducted on camera; however, the video monitor is turned on and the supervisor relays the actions being taken so that the audio portion of the camera system records the search while the arrestee remains outside of the visible frame of the video camera. Initially, Det. Sgt. Early stepped inside the cell with Mangual. Once Dets. Smith and Det. Hanlon joined them, Det. Sgt. Early stepped out. He then stood in the cell doorway and observed the subsequent events.

         Det. Smith grabbed Mangual and flipped him over in the air and slammed him on his face. Mangual was caught off guard, but he managed to break the fall with minimum impact to his face. Det. Smith then put him down and jumped on his back, putting his full weight on him. Mangual could not breathe- he tried to relax and felt his wrist being pressed, which was painful. Mangual heard Det. Sgt. Early command him to comply and stop resisting. Dets. Hanlon and Smith grabbed him and stood him up, slamming him flat against the wall. Mangual fell, and collapsed to the floor. Mangual was kicked and stepped on. Det. Hanlon then took his sneakers off while Det. Smith pinned him face down. Next, Mangual felt his pants being yanked off his body; he felt the cold floor on his leg areas. Mangual could hear Det. Sgt. Early saying, “Hector, spread your cheeks.” He then felt his underwear pulled off him. While this was happening, Det. Smith was on top of him twisting his wrist. Mangual remembers asking Det. Sgt. Early to look at his wrist-he was in pain and thought was cut around his wrist area.

         Mangual asked to see a doctor. Det. Sgt. Early said that nobody was hurting him. Mangual heard someone ask, “Who's doing it?” Det. Smith was still on top of him when Mangual feel fingers spreading his butt cheeks open. Mangual clenched his buttocks and heard “relax, Hector, just relax”. Mangual, who felt violated, yelled “please don't do this, please don't do this to me.” Det. Hanlon continued to press his buttocks wide apart. Mangual was in pain in his buttocks area and at the same time, Det. Smith kept pressure on his back and was twisting wrist. Mangual screamed in pain. He kept hearing Det. Sgt. Early say, “Hector spread your cheeks, bend over, spread your cheeks”. Mangual then felt fingers entering his anus cavity; he again yelled out in pain. Mangual felt cold, then a burning sensation as he felt fingers inside his body. He heard Det. Sgt. Early saying, “game's up.” Mangual yelled and asked the officers stop violating him. Det. Smith was hitting him on his back side.

         A plastic bag was removed from Mangual's rectum. Subsequently, it was determined to contain five separately packaged gram bags of heroin. The plastic bag was placed into an evidence bag and labelled “body cavity” by Officer Fred McGill, the evidence officer. Mangual was then left alone on the floor. He pleaded to have his pants and other clothing returned, but was denied. Dets. Smith and Hanlon both dressed him-- they would not uncuff him and allow him to dress myself. Mangual was put him in another cell room for several hours before he was taken out, uncuffed and booked. Mangual was never released on bail. He was charged in Worcester Superior Court with: Carrying a Dangerous Weapon, in violation of Mass.Gen. L. ch. 269, §10(b); Possession With Intent to Distribute (Class A) Second or Subsequent Offense, in violation of Mass.Gen. L. ch. 94C, § 32(b); Resisting Arrest; and Disturbing the Peace, in violation of Mass. Gen. L. c. 272, § 53. As to the first three offenses, Mangual was charged as a habitual offender. Mangual pled guilty to the following offenses: carrying a dangerous weapon, possession of a Class A substance (heroin) with intent to distribute, resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. The second/subsequent drug offense and habitual ...

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