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Wright v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 23, 2015

Stuart Wright, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
United States of America; John Clark; Walter R. Bradley, in his official capacity as the United States Marshal for the District of Kansas; Stacia A. Hylton, in her official capacity, Defendants, Sean Franklin, in his official capacity as a Deputy United States Marshal and in his individual capacity; Christopher Wallace, in his official capacity as a Deputy United States Marshal and in his individual capacity, Defendants - Appellants

Submitted September 21, 2015.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Kansas City.

For Stuart Wright, Plaintiff - Appellee: John Wray Kurtz, HUBBARD & KURTZ, Kansas City, MO.

For Sean Franklin, in his official capacity as a Deputy United States Marshal and in his individual capacity, Christopher Wallace, in his official capacity as a Deputy United States Marshal and in his individual capacity, Defendants - Appellants: Toby Crouse, FOULSTON & SIEFKIN, Overland Park, KS; Stephen R. McAllister, THOMPSON & RAMSDELL, Lawrence, KS.

Before LOKEN, BENTON, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

Appellee Stuart Wright filed suit against Deputy United States Marshals Sean Franklin and Christopher Wallace (the " Marshals" ) seeking damages pursuant to Bivens.[1] The Marshals moved for summary judgment based on qualified immunity, and the district court denied their motion. The Marshals brought an interlocutory appeal. We declined to address the merits of the appeal and remanded the case so that the district court could properly make findings of fact and conclusions of law sufficient to permit appellate review. On remand, the district court denied, in part, the Marshals' motion for summary judgment. We reverse and remand.

I.

We recount the facts as found by the district court in the light most favorable to Wright, the nonmoving party. Johnson v. Blaukat, 453 F.3d 1108, 1113 (8th Cir. 2006). In 2008, a Grand Jury in United States District Court for the District of Kansas indicted Vinol Wilson (" Wilson" ) for conspiracy to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine, and to possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Following the indictment, an arrest warrant was issued for Wilson.

Sean Franklin, a Deputy United States Marshal with the United States Marshal Service in the District of Kansas, began an investigation to locate and arrest Wilson. Through his investigation, Franklin learned that Wilson had a history of drug, weapons, and aggravated assault offenses and had previously served 78 months in prison for distributing crack cocaine and for using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. He was considered armed and dangerous. Franklin also discovered that Wilson used steroids and participated in body building and dog fighting, and played basketball with a group of acquaintances in leagues and tournaments in and around the Greater Kansas City area.

In 2008, Wilson played on a basketball team that competed in the Sunflower State Games. Franklin obtained a copy of the team roster and sought out Wilson's former teammates who might know Wilson's whereabouts. On April 15, 2009, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Franklin met with Walt Bethea, one of Wilson's former teammates from the 2008 Sunflower State Games, and showed him a 2005 Kansas driver's license photo of Wilson. Bethea confirmed that the man in the photo was " V" [2] and indicated that he knew Wilson was wanted by law enforcement on drug charges. Bethea told Franklin that Wilson played in an adult basketball league at the Grandview, Missouri Community Center on Wednesday evenings and he knew that Wilson was scheduled to play that evening at 7:30 p.m. Bethea stated that Wilson's team was comprised of black males who wore orange-colored jerseys.

At approximately 11:30 a.m on April 15, 2009, Franklin met with a confidential source (" CS" ) at the Grandview Community Center. Franklin showed CS the 2005 Kansas driver's license photo and asked him if he had seen the person pictured. CS stated that he had seen the person pictured, but did not know his name. CS indicated that he had seen the man wearing an orange-colored jersey with the number " 23" on the back, with his hair in braids (or " corn-rows" ), and sporting a goatee and gold-colored teeth.

CS obtained a roster for the man's team. He explained that the individuals playing in the league are not required to produce identification and the rosters are not checked for accuracy. Franklin recognized some of the names on the roster from the 2008 Sunflower State Games' roster. Wilson's name was not listed on the community center team's roster, but there was an entry for " Vyshon Watson." Franklin knew that Wilson had a son named Vyshon. CS told Franklin that he would assist in identifying Wilson if Wilson arrived for the scheduled game that evening.

At 5:55 p.m., Franklin received a telephone call from a friend of Bethea's advising him that Wilson's team's game had been rescheduled for 6:30 p.m., an hour earlier than planned. Franklin then placed a call to CS to verify this information, but CS did not answer. Around the same time, Franklin set up a briefing area near the parking ...


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