Anonymous v. City of Meriden
A prerequisite to a plaintiff's claim for damages against a chief of police pursuant to 42 United States Code §1983 is the chief of police's personal involvement in the alleged constitutional deprivation. In 2007, the defendant police officer, Raymond Barnes, allegedly sexually assaulted the 15-year-old plaintiff. After the plaintiff made a complaint, internal affairs investigated and concluded that the defendant police officer violated department rules. The police officer was arrested and he resigned. The plaintiff sued the defendant police officer, the chief of police and the City of Meriden. The court granted the plaintiff's request for a default judgment against the defendant officer, who failed to file an appearance. The plaintiff's complaint alleged that the proximate cause of the sexual assault was the deliberate indifference and inadequate supervision of the chief of police and the city. Allegations that the defendant officer previously misused his position during a dispute with a neighbor, because he allegedly threatened the neighbor, and slept when he was scheduled to be on duty, were insufficient to place the chief of police and the city on notice that the defendant officer might sexually abuse a minor. "Neither of the [prior] Internal Affairs investigations into Officer Barnes's misconduct," wrote the District Court, "concerned any allegations of sexual misconduct or criminal conduct." The defendant chief of police was unaware of any prior complaints that involved allegations of sexual assault. A municipality is responsible under 42 U.S.C. §1983 only if it has a policy or custom that causes a constitutional injury. The plaintiff failed to establish the police department's supervision of the defendant police officer was so inadequate it rose to the level of deliberate indifference. No reasonable juror could infer that the city's failure to act led to the deprivation of the plaintiff's rights. The city lacked notice that the defendant officer was likely to sexually assault a minor. A prerequisite to §1983 damages against the chief is the chief's personal involvement in the alleged constitutional deprivation. A reasonable juror could not find that the chief of police was grossly negligent, for failure to supervise the defendant police officer. The court granted the municipal defendants' motions for summary judgment.