United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
FASHING, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on defendants Janice Madrid and
Richard Williamson's Motion to Dismiss or Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings, which was fully briefed on May 30,
2017. Docs. 32, 34, 36, 37. Defendants' motion is based
on qualified immunity and the doctrine announced in Heck
v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), which held that a
plaintiff cannot bring a § 1983 civil rights claim based
on actions whose unlawfulness would render an existing
criminal conviction invalid. Id. at 486-87. Because
the information contained in the complaint-even when combined
with the information in the plea and disposition agreement
attached to defendants' motion-is insufficient to
conclude that defendants are entitled to qualified immunity,
or that the Heck doctrine bars plaintiff Roxanne
Torres's claims, the Court DENIES defendants' motion.
case arises out of an incident that occurred in July, 2014.
The facts are taken from the allegations in Ms. Torres's
complaint, which the Court assumes are true for the purpose
of this motion. On the morning of Tuesday, July 15, 2014, New
Mexico State Police officers went to an apartment complex in
Albuquerque to serve an arrest warrant on a person named
Kayenta Jackson. Doc. 1 ¶ 5. Defendants Janice Madrid
and Richard Williamson were two of the police officers involved.
See Id. ¶¶ 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10.
Madrid and another officer parked their unmarked patrol
vehicle in front of a 2010 black and white Toyota FJ Cruiser.
Id. ¶ 6. Officers Madrid and Williamson were in
tactical vests and dark clothing, which made it impossible
for Ms. Torres to identify them as police officers. See
Id. ¶ 7.
Madrid and Williamson attempted to open the locked door of
the car in which Ms. Torres had been sleeping. Id.
¶ 8. (Although it is not clear from the complaint
whether this car is the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the Court assumes
it was based on the background information contained in the
defendants' motion. See Doc. 32 at 2.) Ms.
Torres thought she was the victim of an attempted
car-jacking, so she attempted to leave the parking lot in her
car (presumably the FJ Cruiser). Doc. 1 ¶ 8. Ms. Torres
was not armed, and she did nothing to suggest she was armed
or had any type of weapon. Id. ¶ 9. When Ms.
Torres attempted to exit the parking lot, both Officer Madrid
and Officer Williamson were standing beside her car, not in
front of it. Id. Nonetheless, both officers drew
their duty weapons and shot at Ms. Torres. Id.
¶ 10. Ms. Torres was hit twice in her back. Id.
Her vehicle also was struck multiple times. Id. Ms.
Torres managed to get to a hospital where she was treated for
gunshot wounds to her back in addition to other injuries.
Id. ¶ 11. These injuries caused Ms. Torres
pain, suffering, disfiguration, and scarring, and will result
in future medical expenses. Id. ¶ 10.
to the plea and disposition agreement attached to
defendants' motion (hereafter “plea
agreement”), in March 2015, Ms. Torres pled no contest
to aggravated fleeing from a law enforcement officer, in
violation of N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-22-1.1, and also to
assault upon a peace officer, in violation of N.M. Stat. Ann.
§ 30-22-21. Doc. 32-1 at 1. The events that gave rise to
these two charges took place “on or about the
15th day of July, 2014.” Id.
Neither the law enforcement officer nor the peace officer
involved in either offense is identified in the plea
agreement. See id.
counts I and III of the complaint, Ms. Torres alleges that
Officer Madrid and Officer Williamson, respectively, through
the intentional discharge of their weapons, “exceeded
the degree of force which a reasonable, prudent law
enforcement officer would have applied under these same
circumstances.” Id. ¶¶ 14, 21. In
counts II and IV,  Ms. Torres alleges that Officers Madrid
and Williamson conspired together to use excessive force
against her. Id. ¶¶ 17, 24.
defendants argue they are entitled to qualified immunity on
all of Ms. Torres's excessive force claims under the
Heck doctrine. Doc. 32 at 5-9. They contend that her
March 2015 convictions for assault on a peace officer and
aggravated fleeing bar her § 1983 claims because her
claims, if successful, would render her convictions invalid.
Id. Ms. Torres counters that the Court should not
consider Ms. Torres's no-contest pleas, but even if it
does, her convictions are not necessarily inconsistent with
her excessive force claims. See Doc. 34 at 7-8,
13-15. Because I agree that Ms. Torres's convictions are
not necessarily inconsistent with her excessive force claims,
I deny defendants' motion.
Motions to Dismiss Generally
withstand a motion to dismiss, a complaint must have enough
allegations of fact, taken as true, ‘to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Kan.
Penn Gaming, LLC v. Collins, 656 F.3d 1210, 1214 (10th
Cir .2011) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). While “‘a court must
accept as true all of the allegations contained in a
complaint, '” this rule does not apply to legal
conclusions. Id. (quoting Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). “[A] plaintiff
must offer specific factual allegations to support each
claim.” Id. (citation omitted). A complaint
survives only if it “states a plausible claim for
relief.” Id. (citation omitted).
a court considers only the contents of the complaint when
ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion.” Berneike v.
CitiMortgage, Inc., 708 F.3d 1141, 1146 (10th Cir.
2013). In determining whether to grant the motion, the Court
must accept all the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint
as true, even if doubtful in fact, and must construe the
allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Alvarado v. KOB-TV,
LLC, 493 F.3d 1210, 1215 (10th Cir. 2007). “[A]
well-pleaded complaint may proceed even if it strikes a savvy
judge that actual proof of those facts is improbable, and
‘that a recovery is very ...