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Davis v. Murphy

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 28, 2018

HERBERT DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
PAUL W. MURPHY, STEPHEN M. MEADE, and STEPHEN C. McMANUS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER ON DEFENDANT PAUL W. MURPHY'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Indira Talwani United States District Judge.

         The above-captioned civil rights action is described in some detail in the court's Memorandum & Order on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment [#195]. Now before the court is Defendant Sergeant Detective Paul W. Murphy's Motion for Summary Judgment [#173] seeking summary judgment on all claims against him. Plaintiff Herbert Davis opposes summary judgment on three claims: (1) a § 1983 claim based on fabrication of false inculpatory evidence and failure to disclose exculpatory evidence (Count II), Am. Compl. ¶¶ 54-59 [#108]; (2) a § 1983 malicious prosecution claim (Count III), Am. Compl. ¶¶ 60-65; and (3) a malicious prosecution claim under Massachusetts law (Count V), Am. Compl. ¶¶ 69-72.[1] For the reasons that follow, Murphy's Motion for Summary Judgment [#173] is ALLOWED.

         I. Standard

         A moving party is entitled to 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). “A dispute is ‘genuine' if ‘the evidence about the fact is such that a reasonable jury could resolve the point in the favor of the non-moving party.'” Cherkaoui v. City of Quincy, 877 F.3d 14, 23-24 (1st Cir. 2017) (quoting Sanchez v. Alvarado, 101 F.3d 223, 227 (1st Cir. 1996)). “Facts are material when they have the ‘potential to affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable law.'” Id. at 23 (quoting Sanchez, 101 F.3d at 227). “At the summary judgment stage, [a court] must draw all reasonable inferences from the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, disregarding any ‘conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, and unsupported speculation.'” McGrath v. Tavares, 757 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2014) (quoting Alicea v. Machete Music, 744 F.3d 773, 778 (1st Cir. 2014)).

         II. Background

         Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Davis, as the non-movant, the relevant facts supported by the record are as follows.[2] Murphy is a Boston Police officer. Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts [“Defs.' SOF”] ¶ 1 [#179]; Pl.'s Response to Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts [“Pl.'s SOF Response”] ¶ 1 [#186]. Either on the morning of September 23, 2010, or the night prior, Murphy's superior, Lieutenant Detective Stephen Meade, assigned Murphy to assist with a controlled buy organized by a Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) Drug and Gang Task Force (“Task Force”). Defs.' SOF ¶ 32.

         Task Force members planned for the controlled buy to take place at 11 Harold Park in Roxbury, which was located within the area to which Murphy's Drug Control Unit was assigned. Id. ¶ 34. Because the buy was to be located within Murphy's assigned district, Meade asked Murphy to bring members of Murphy's unit to the buy location to serve as backup during the buy and to assist, if necessary, in the execution of a search warrant at the property. Id. ¶ 34. Prior to receiving this assignment, Murphy was unaware of the Task Force investigation of which the controlled buy was a part, and had never heard of Darren Sheridan, the informant whom the Task Force relied on to execute the controlled buy. Id. ¶ 33.

         A Task Force briefing on the controlled buy took place the morning of September 23 at the Special Operations Unit in Roxbury. Id. ¶ 36. Murphy attended this briefing. Id. During the controlled buy, Murphy was positioned in a squad car on a nearby street. Id. ¶ 44. Murphy did not listen to or view the recording of the controlled buy, nor did he know that a camera was used during the buy. Id. ¶¶ 39, 91. At the conclusion of the buy, Murphy heard over the radio that the Special Weapons and Tactics (“SWAT”) team was entering 11 Harold Park to secure the premises. Id. ¶ 55. Law enforcement officers arrested Davis and found him in possession of some, but not all, of the buy money supplied to Sheridan. Id. ¶¶ 58-59. Murphy did not participate in the arrest.

         When the buy concluded, Murphy and Meade went to the Special Operations Unit. Id. ¶ 61. Murphy then returned to 11 Harold Park to assist in the ongoing search alongside members of his Drug Control Unit and the Task Force. Id. ¶¶ 61-62. After the search, Murphy traveled to the station with Stephen McManus, the sole Boston Police Officer on the FBI Task Force. Id. ¶¶ 1, 67. Once there, Murphy asked whether he could do anything to assist McManus. Id. ¶ 68. McManus responded that Murphy could help by writing an incident report for another controlled buy that the Task Force had supervised between Sheridan and Davis on September 16. Id.

         McManus supplied Murphy with the information for this report. Id. ¶ 71. Murphy then drafted a Boston Police incident report that stated:

O/S-On 09-16-2010, Det. Steven McManus of the Boston Police DCU/FBI squad, along with members of the FBI, conducted a drug investigation at 11 Harold Pk., apt. #3, Rox. At about 18:00 hours this date, these investigators conducted a purchase of three plastic bags of crack cocaine from the above listed suspect (Herbert Davis) with the assistance of a Cooperating Witness (CW) who made the actual buy.
The CW paid suspect Davis $640.00 USC in funds supplied by the government and in return, was handed the three P/B's of crack cocaine by Herbert Davis. Drugs seized in this incident were secured by FBI Special Agents.
Davis shall be charged with the crimes of Distribution Class “B” & Distribution Class “B” (SZ). This incident transpired within 1000' of the Lewis School, located on Walnut Avenue, Roxbury.

Defs.' SOF Ex. P [#179-16]. Murphy's name appears as both the reporting officer and the approving supervisor. Id. The report is dated ...


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