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Sanchez v. Hartley

United States District Court, D. Colorado

August 20, 2014

JOE RYAN HARTLEY, Detective, in his individual capacity, RYAN WOLFF, Detective, in his individual capacity, MIKE DUFFY, Detective, in his individual capacity, HEATHER MYKES, Detective in her individual capacity, MICHAEL DICKSON, Investigator, in his individual capacity, BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF DOUGLAS COUNTY, DOUGLAS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE, and OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR THE EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, Defendants

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For Tyler Sanchez, Plaintiff: John A. Culver, LEAD ATTORNEY, Seth J. Benezra, Benezra & Culver, P.C., Lakewood, CO.

For Joe (I) Ryan Hartley, Detective, in his individual capacity, Ryan (I) Wolff, Detective, in his individual capacity, Defendants: Ann Baumgartner Smith, Gordon Lamar Vaughan, Vaughan & DeMuro-Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs, CO.

For Mike (I) Duffy, Detective, in his individual capacity, Heather (I) Mykes, Detective, in her individual capacity, Board of County Commissioners of Douglas County, Colorado, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Defendants: Kelly Dunnaway, LEAD ATTORNEY, Christopher Kirk Pratt, Douglas County Attorney's Office, Castle Rock, CO.

For Heather (I) Mykes, Detective, in her individual capacity, Office of the District Attorney for the Eighteenth Judicial District, Defendants: Andrew David Ringel, Keith M. Goman, Hall & Evans, LLC-Denver, Denver, CO.

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William J. Martí nez, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Tyler Sanchez (" Plaintiff" ) brings this Fourth Amendment malicious prosecution claim[1] against Detective Joe Ryan Hartley (" Hartley" ), Detective Ryan Wolff (" Wolff" ), Detective Mike Duffy (" Duffy" ), Detective Heather Mykes (" Mykes" ), and Investigator Michael Dickson (" Dickson" ) (collectively, the " Individual Defendants" ), in their individual capacities, and the Board of County Commissioners of Douglas County (" BOCC" ), Douglas County Sheriff's Office (" Sheriff's Office" ) (together with BOCC, the " Entity Defendants" ), and the Office of the District Attorney for the Eighteenth Judicial District (" District Attorney's Office" ). Before the Court is Defendants' Joint Motion to Dismiss (the " Motion" ). (ECF No. 32.) For the foregoing reasons, the Motion is granted in part and denied in part.


The following allegations, contained in Plaintiff's Complaint, are accepted as true for purposes of the Motion.

Plaintiff was 18 years old in July of 2009. (Compl. (ECF No. 24) ¶ 13.) He is cognitively and developmentally disabled. ( Id. ¶ 13.) The Amended Complaint alleges that:

[Plaintiff] suffers from a mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, borderline intellectual functioning, auditory processing deficits, social anxiety, submissive personality characteristics, and hearing impairments. His I.Q. tests in the 60s and 70s. He also suffers from a seizure disorder, which requires him to take medication that impairs his memory.

( Id. ¶ 14.)

This combination of disorders impacts [Plaintiff's] ability to listen, comprehend, understand, communicate, and apply abstract concepts. Additionally, [Plaintiff] has problems with cognitive demands under time pressure, problems working with memory, and possesses auditory processing deficits. He also has problems comprehending vocabulary and grammar. His disabilities greatly impact his ability to communicate verbally and non-verbally to others. His disorders particularly manifest themselves under pressure, stress, questioning by authorities, and sleep deprivation.

( Id. ¶ 15.)

A. The Underlying Events

On July 10, 2009, a mother made a 911 call to the Sheriff's Office and told the dispatcher that someone had broken into

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her home and sexually assaulted her eight-year-old daughter (the " July Assault" ). ( Id. ¶ 18.) The girl described the intruder as an older man, about 40 years old, with brown hair parted down the middle, who was not wearing a hat, did not have any tattoos on his hands or arms, and had white skin. ( Id. ¶ 19.)

A. The Interviews

On July 17, 2009, at approximately 12:40 a.m., Wolff and Hartley responded to a call regarding a prowler on Branham Drive (the " Branham Drive Trespass" ). ( Id. ¶ 21.) Beginning at around 1:18 a.m., Wolff and Hartley began interviewing Plaintiff in his driveway about the Branham Drive Trespass. ( Id. ¶ 22.) During this interview, Wolff and Hartley repeatedly suggested to Plaintiff specific details about the Branham Drive Trespass, then asked Plaintiff to describe the incident back to them. ( Id.) Based on Plaintiff's responses to these questions, Plaintiff was arrested, without a warrant, for second degree criminal trespass and transported to the Douglas County Jail. ( Id. ¶ 25.)

At the Douglas County Jail, Wolff and Hartley continued to interview Plaintiff. ( Id. ¶ 27.) Even though Wolff and Hartley knew that Plaintiff bore no resemblance to the perpetrator of the July Assault, they also interviewed Plaintiff to determine whether he had been the perpetrator of that crime. ( Id.) During the interview, Wolff and Hartley led Plaintiff to believe that his DNA had been found in locations which implicated him in the crimes. ( Id. ¶ 28.) They also provided Plaintiff with specific details about the Branham Drive Trespass and the July Assault and asked him exclusively " yes or no" questions regarding whether he committed these criminal acts. ( Id. ¶ .) In response to these " yes or no" questions, Plaintiff admitted to entering the home where the July Assault occurred, but denied sexually assaulting the girl. ( Id. ¶ 29.) During this interview, Plaintiff also confessed to other burglaries and trespasses under investigation by the Sheriff's Office. ( Id. ¶ 30.)

Later on July 17, 2009, Plaintiff was interviewed by Mykes and Duffy about the July Assault. ( Id. ¶ 35.) At the time of that interview, Plaintiff had been awake since the morning of July 16, 2009--roughly 24 hours--with little or no sleep. ( Id. ¶ 36.) Mykes and Duffy noted that Plaintiff appeared tired during the interview. ( Id. ¶ 28.) They also observed that Plaintiff had difficultly expressing himself verbally during the interview. ( Id. ¶ 39.)

During this interview, Plaintiff attempted to explain to Mykes and Duffy that he had been coerced by Hartley and Wolff into confessing to crimes he did not commit. ( Id. ¶ 41.) Mykes responded to this by stating, " I know those guys [Hartley and Wolff] pretty well . . . I know they weren't forcing you to say what you said this morning. I know that, okay?" ( Id.)

Towards the end of this interview, Plaintiff offered to take a lie detector test, which was administered by Dickson on July 18, 2009. ( Id. ¶ ¶ 46, 51.) Dickson began the polygraph test by questioning Plaintiff to develop questions for the polygraph. ( Id. ¶ 55.) While developing the questions, Dickson asked Plaintiff how much he knew about the sexual assault allegations, and Plaintiff repeated " almost verbatim" what Wolff, Hartley, Mykes, and Duffy had told him the previous day. ( Id. ¶ 55.) Dickson then provided Plaintiff with additional information regarding what he believed had happened during the July Assault. ( Id.)

When Plaintiff failed the polygraph test on two questions regarding the July Assault he exclaimed, " But I don't remember any of this. That's what I'm trying to

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say." ( Id. ¶ 58) Dickson, however, suggested that Plaintiff really meant to say, " It could have happened, but I don't remember." ( Id. ¶ 59.) Plaintiff acceded to this suggestion, and explained, " I fell asleep [on the night of the July Assault] and then I woke up--I woke up the next morning in my bed. . . . I might have woke up [during the night] out of nowhere . . . And might have done that (the assault) because there's many--there's many things I don't remember doing. . . . I could have done it . . . I just don't remember. . . . I could have probably done it in my sleep." ( Id.)

After the lie detector test, Plaintiff drafted a brief statement in which he confessed to breaking into the girls home, but not to sexually assaulting her. ( Id. ¶ 60.) Mykes and Duffy then re-interviewed Plaintiff in an attempt to fill in missing details from his statements. ( Id. ¶ 66.)

C. Probable Cause

a. Trespass Charges

On July 17, 2009, a Statement in Support of Warrantless Arrest of Plaintiff and a Misdemeanor Summons and Complaint (the " Misdemeanor Complaint" ) for the Branham Drive Trespass were signed by Detective Cirbo.[2] ( Id. ¶ 34.) These documents were drafted in reliance on Harley and Wolff's statements and opinions about their interviews with Plaintiff, and did not include any information regarding Plaintiff's disabilities and limitations. ( Id.)

On July 20, 2009, the District Attorney filed the Misdemeanor Complaint. ( Id. ¶ 73.) Hartley and Wolff did not report Plaintiff's known seizure disorder, communication disorder, cognitive limitations, or the resulting unreliability of his confessions to the District Attorney. ( Id.) On the same day, a magistrate judge signed a determination finding probable cause to detain Plaintiff for committing the Branham Drive Trespass. ( Id. ¶ 74.)

On January 6, 2010, Mykes drafted and signed an Affidavit for Arrest Warrant on a new felony charge arising from the Branham Drive Trespass. ( Id. ¶ 80.) Mykes did not include any mention of Plaintiff's known seizure disorder, communication disorder, or cognitive limitations in the affidavit. ( Id.) Later that day, the District Attorney filed the Affidavit in Douglas County ...

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