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Sydner v. Ledbetter

July 7, 2009

EARL E. SYDNER, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
BOB LEDBETTER, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David R Herndon Chief Judge United States District Court

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

HERNDON, Chief Judge

Plaintiff Earl E. Sydner, currently an inmate in the Pontiac Correctional Center, brings this action for deprivations of his constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening.-- The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.

(b) Grounds for Dismissal.-- On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint--

(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or

(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

28 U.S.C. § 1915A. An action or claim is frivolous if "it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1974 (2007).

FACTS ALLEGED

On July 14, 2007, Sydner was sitting in a parking lot in Carbondale, Illinois waiting for friends. While he waited, Sydner was blocked in by police cars driven by Defendants Bunmer and Heavrin, and was informed by the Defendants that there had been a theft at the local Amtrak station. Sydner requested more information, and was told by Bunmer to sit down, and that someone was coming to "have a look" at him. When Sydner's friends arrived at the parking lot, they were told by Defendants Bunmer and Heavrin to leave.

After waiting 30 minutes, Sydner asked Bunmer and Heavrin whether he was under arrest. They informed him that he was not under arrest, so Sydner proceeded to walk away. Heavrin then stepped in front of Sydner and told him to "sit . . . down, you're not leaving until I say you can leave." Sydner then attempted to reason with Bunmer as the supervising officer, but was again told by Bunmer to sit down. Sydner unwillingly remained with Bunmer and Heavrin.

After being detained approximately 45 minutes, Defendant Johnson pulled up in a squad car with the victim, and spot lights were shown in Sydner's face. Heavrin and Bunmer then told Sydner to stand up, and that he was under arrest. Sydner was taken to the Jackson County jail to await a court appearance.

On August 3, 2007, Sydner's preliminary hearing took place, where the police report was admitted. The report stated that Sydner was detained because he was a Hispanic male fitting the description provided by the victim. Further, Johnson testified at the hearing that on the night in question Sydner, was not wearing clothing matching the description given by the victim. The charges against Sydner were dismissed and, once he was liberated, Sydner lodged a complaint against the arresting officers with the Internal Affairs division of the Carbondale Police Department. This complaint was ignored, seemingly because of a persistent practice of the Department to ignore complaints made by minority citizens.

Sydner claims that his constitutional rights were violated by the arrest. He requests as relief a declaration of violation of those rights, nominal damages, compensatory damages in the amount of $150,000 against Defendants, and ...


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