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Case Number: 1:21-cv-198
Judge: Paul J. Barbadoro
Court: United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire (Merrimack County)
Defendant's Attorney: Charles P. Bauer, Keelan Forey
Description: Concord, New Hampshire civil rights lawyer represented Plaintiff who sued Defendant on a constitution rights violation theory under 42 U.S.C. 1983.
This case arose out of an incident that occurred in the early morning hours of May 11, 2018. Manchester Police Officers Michael Roscoe, Canada Stewart, Matthew Nocella, and Nathan Harrington responded to a noise complaint at a local bar. The officers allegedly became agitated after Heredia, who was recording the encounter, refused to follow their instruction to leave the area. Compl. ¶¶ 14-15, Doc. No. 1-1. The complaint alleges that Officer Roscoe and another officer “attacked [Heredia], threw him to the ground, and slammed his head onto the pavement.” Id. ¶ 15. After Officer Roscoe left Heredia to detain another individual, Officer Stewart allegedly jumped on Heredia and started punching him in the head. Id. Heredia responded by struggling with Officer Stewart, who sustained a concussion as a result. See Doc. No. 12-4 at 4-6. Officer Roscoe intervened and “began repeatedly punching [Heredia] with both fists in [his] face and head.” Compl. ¶ 16. Officers Stewart and Nocella then “grabbed [Heredia], pushed him against a parked vehicle, and then drove him to the ground again.” Id. ¶ 17. While Heredia was on the ground, Officer Roscoe allegedly shot him with a taser. Id. ¶ 18. One of the officers ripped the taser's prongs out of Heredia, causing him lacerations. Id. Despite Heredia's apparent injuries, the officers refused his requests for medical treatment and took him to jail. Id. ¶ 19.
Officers Roscoe, Stewart, Nocella, and Harrington all reported that Heredia had grabbed Officer Stewart's hair and repeatedly punched her in the head during the incident. Id. ¶ 20. Heredia alleges that he never punched Officer Stewart and that the officers knowingly made those false reports. Id.
Heredia was charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, simple assault, felony resisting arrest, felony riot, two counts of misdemeanor resisting arrest, and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. At trial, he denied that he had punched Officer Stewart and argued that the officers had used unlawful force against him. Part of his defense involved questioning the credibility of Officers Roscoe and Stewart and arguing that it was Officer Roscoe who inadvertently punched Officer Stewart while punching Heredia. The jury acquitted Heredia of the attempted murder and assault charges but convicted him on the remaining charges. See Doc. No. 12-3 at 12; Compl. ¶ 21.
After trial, Heredia learned that Officers Stewart and Roscoe were in a committed, romantic relationship at the time of the incident. Compl. ¶ 22. He moved for a new trial based on their failure to disclose this relationship. The state court granted Heredia's motion, concluding that the undisclosed information was knowingly withheld and that it was favorable to Heredia because it pertained to the officers' credibility and potential motive to lie. See Doc. No. 12-3 at 4-7.
After the court ordered a new trial, Heredia pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, riot, and disorderly conduct. The felony resisting arrest indictment alleged that Heredia “struggled with Officer Stewart as she attempted to handcuff [him] by punching Officer Stewart in the face causing her to sustain a concussion.” Doc. No. 7-2 at 4. The two misdemeanor resisting arrest charges alleged that Heredia “struggled” with Officers Roscoe and Nocella as they attempted to handcuff him. Doc. No. 7-4 at 8-9. The riot indictment alleged that he, with others, “engaged Manchester Police Officers in a fight resulting in [a] concussion to Manchester Police Officer Canada Stewart.” Doc. No. 7-3 at 4. Lastly, the disorderly conduct charge alleged that Heredia “stood in the middle of the road, refusing to leave following multiple lawful orders to do so by Officer Roscoe.” Doc. No. 7-4 at 10.
During the plea colloquy, Heredia contested the accusation that he had punched Officer Stewart. See Doc. No. 12-4 at 4-6. He agreed, however, that he was guilty of felony resisting arrest because he had struggled with Officer Stewart, and she sustained a concussion as a result. See Id. He did not contest the facts supporting the remaining charges. The court accepted Heredia's guilty pleas and sentenced him to time served.
In this action, Heredia has sued Officers Roscoe, Stewart, Nocella, and Harrington in their individual capacities. He has asserted claims for excessive use of force (Counts I-III), failure to render medical treatment in violation of the due process clause (Count IV), fabrication of evidence in violation of his due process right to a fair trial (Count V), malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment (Count VI), common law assault and battery (Counts VII-IX), and common law malicious prosecution (Count X).
Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings with respect to the fabrication of evidence (Count V) and malicious prosecution (Counts VI and X) claims. The parties subsequently stipulated to a voluntary dismissal without prejudice of the malicious prosecution claims. See Doc. No. 11. Thus, the present motion concerns only the fabrication claim.
Heredia v. Roscoe (D. N.H. 2021)
This case was filed in the Hillsborough County Superior Court, Case NO.: 216-2021-CV-00052, and was removed to federal court by the Defendants.
"The use of force by law enforcement officers is a complex and controversial issue. There is no single definition of what constitutes excessive force, and the law varies from state to state. However, there are some general principles that apply to all cases.
In general, law enforcement officers are allowed to use force to protect themselves or others from harm. They are also allowed to use force to make an arrest or to prevent someone from escaping. However, the force used must be reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.
What constitutes "reasonable and necessary" force will vary depending on the specific facts of each case. However, there are some factors that courts will consider, such as:
The severity of the crime or threat
The officer's perception of the threat
The officer's training and experience
The officer's options for using less force
If a law enforcement officer uses excessive force, they may be held liable for civil or criminal charges. Civil liability means that the officer may be sued by the victim for damages. Criminal liability means that the officer may be charged with a crime, such as assault or battery.
There are a number of things that can be done to prevent excessive use of force by law enforcement officers. These include:
Providing officers with better training on how to use force appropriately
Developing clear policies and procedures on the use of force
Creating an independent oversight body to investigate allegations of excessive force
Holding officers accountable for their actions
Excessive use of force by law enforcement officers is a serious problem. It can have a devastating impact on the victims, their families, and the community as a whole. It is important to take steps to prevent this from happening and to hold officers accountable when it does.'
Outcome: MOTION for Attorney Fees and costs filed by Michael Roscoe. Follow up on Reply on 4/18/2023. The court only follow up date DOES NOT include 3 additional days that may apply per FRCP 6(d) and FRCrP 45(c). (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum of Law MOL in Support of Objection, # 2 Exhibit Exhibit A to MOL, # 3 Exhibit Exhibit B to MOL, # 4 Exhibit Exhibit C to MOL, # 5 Exhibit Exhibit D to MOL, # 6 Exhibit (Affidavit) Affidavit of Bauer)(Forey, Keelan) (Entered: 04/11/2023)