United States District Court, D. New Mexico
AL-RASHAAD R. CRAFT, Plaintiff,
CHAD WRIGHT, in his official and individual capacity, and AHMAD WHITE, in his official and individual capacity, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint [Doc.
39]. The Court has reviewed the motion as well as
Plaintiff's response [Doc. 41] and Defendants' reply
[Doc. 42]. For the reasons stated below, Defendants'
motion will be denied.
review of the complaint, the Court must accept as true all
well-pleaded factual allegations and view them in the light
most favorable to the plaintiff. SEC v. Shields, 744
F.3d 633, 640 (10th Cir. 2014). “To survive a motion to
dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). A
claim is plausible when the plaintiff “pleads factual
content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Id. A pleading that offers only
“labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action” does
not meet this standard. Id. (internal quotation
marks omitted). See Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues &
Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308, 322 (2007) (“[O]nly if
a reasonable person could not draw . . . an inference [of
plausibility] from the alleged facts would the defendant
prevail on a motion to dismiss.”).
Fourth Amended Complaint [Doc. 38], Plaintiff Al-Rashaad R.
Craft (“Craft”) alleges that on April 18, 2015,
he was standing in the public square in Hobbs, New Mexico,
preaching a religious sermon, recording himself while doing
so. Doc. 38 at ¶¶ 6-10. Craft alleges that at
approximately 12:00 p.m., a white woman and man approached
him. Id. at ¶ 10. The woman, Susan Stone, began
yelling at him, using obscenities, and waving a lighter only
inches from Craft's face and in front of the camera that
Craft had set up to record his sermon. Id. at ¶
10-11. Craft ignored the woman, but when he started to read
from his Bible, Stone struck Craft in the face with his
Bible. Id. at ¶ 12. In response, Craft pushed
the woman away, and she lost her balance and fell.
Id. at ¶ 13. Stone got up and continued to
shout obscenities at Craft, walking in circles around him,
smoking, and waving her lighter; she appeared intoxicated,
which Craft later reported to the police. Id. at
¶ 14. Craft continued preaching. However, the
unidentified white male then yelled profanity and pushed
himself to within inches of Craft, taunting Craft and telling
him to hit him; Craft ignored the man. Id. at ¶
time later, members of the Hobbs Police Department arrived
and took statements from all parties. Id. at ¶
17. Craft informed the police that the entire incident was on
video. Id. at ¶ 16. One of the responding
officers, Officer Ellis, determined that there was no
probable cause for an arrest and that if they wanted to
pursue charges they needed to contact the Hobbs City
Attorney. Id. at ¶ 19. However, Defendant Chad
Wright (“Wright”), an officer with the City of
Hobbs, Id. at ¶¶ 3, contacted Ellis and
stated that Ellis needed to find a reason to arrest Craft.
Id. at ¶ 18. When Officer Ellis returned to the
Hobbs Police Department, he was taken off the case and
advised that Craft should have been arrested and charged with
a hate crime. Id. at ¶ 20.
Ahmad White (“White”) of the Hobbs Police
Department was assigned to the case and, according to the
Fourth Amended Complaint, made several misrepresentations to
obtain an arrest warrant. Id. at ¶¶ 3, 21.
Among those were inaccurate assertions that Craft had made
racially offensive comments, used profanity, that Craft
pushed Stone without prior physical contact initiated by
Stone, and that Stone and Craft were arguing. Id. at
¶ 21. Craft alleges that the video of the event
demonstrates the falseness of these assertions, and that
White either had the video or had easy access to it, but
despite that White made the false assertions in the arrest
warrant. Id. at ¶ 23.
week later at approximately the same time, Craft went to the
same public space in Hobbs to preach. Id. at ¶
25. As he began setting up his video camera, several Hobbs
police officers arrested him. Id. According to the
Criminal Complaint, White charged Craft with a third degree
felony, Aggravated Battery-Great Bodily Harm, as well as
Disorderly Conduct, which is a misdemeanor. Warrant for
Arrest, Doc. 39-1 at 3 of 8. The police report also states
that Craft was arrested for aggravated battery and disorderly
conduct. Id. at ¶ 27. According to the Fourth
Amended Complaint, this charge required an $11, 000 cash-only
bond. Doc. 38 at ¶ 26. Craft spent 17 days in the Lea
County Detention Center and later lost his job with the
Department of Energy as a result. Id. at ¶ 28,
30. The Lea County District Attorney's Office dismissed
the charges based on lack of evidence. Id. at ¶
29. It is undisputed that no charges were brought against
Stone arising from this incident.
alleges that Wright and White knew that there was no probable
cause to arrest Craft or were reckless in fabricating such
“probable cause.” Id. at ¶ 32. He
asserts four claims of violation of his constitutional rights
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983: (1) violation of his right to
free speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, (2)
violation of his right to free exercise of religion under the
First and Fourteenth Amendments, (3) false arrest and
violation of his right to be free from unlawful seizure under
the Fourth Amendment, and (4) malicious prosecution in
violation of the Fourth Amendment. He also asks for
injunctive relief in the form of an injunction ordering the
expungement of Craft's arrest and incarceration.
Claims Against Defendant White
Rule 12(b)(6), Defendants argue that Craft fails to state any
constitutional claim against White under §1983 because
his allegations fail to show that White obtained an arrest
warrant without probable cause. Doc. 39 at 3-5. White's
argument does not distinguish between Craft's First and
Fourth Amendment claims in this regard.
Fourth Amendment Claims
Legal Standard ...