The First Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendants’ motion for summary judgment in this false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and battery action should not have been granted because defendants did not demonstrate as a matter of law that there was probable cause for plaintiff’s arrest. When plaintiff flagged down the police he told the police he had been shot and had the drug dealer’s weapon on his person which he immediately surrendered:
… [D]efendants failed to establish prima facie that they had probable cause to arrest plaintiff for criminal possession of a weapon or firearm … , which is the lynchpin to plaintiff’s claims for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and battery … , as well as the arresting officer’s entitlement to qualified immunity … . While “the police are not obligated to pursue every lead that may yield evidence beneficial to the accused, even though they had knowledge of the lead and the capacity to investigate it” … , plaintiff’s claim that he temporarily lawfully possessed the gun at issue after an alleged altercation with a drug dealer who attempted to rob him was not merely a lead. Rather, as soon as plaintiff flagged down the officers, he told them that he had been shot and volunteered that he had the drug dealer’s gun on his person, which he immediately surrendered.
Assuming, without deciding, that defendants could meet their prima facie burden by identifying probable cause to arrest plaintiff for an uncharged crime or offense … , they failed to do so. Specifically, defendants have not established probable cause to arrest plaintiff for trespass … , since there is no evidence that plaintiff knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in the basement where his altercation with the drug dealer took place. Nor did they establish probable cause to arrest plaintiff for attempted criminal possession of marijuana … or attempted unlawful possession of marijuana in the first degree … , since there is no evidence as to the quantity of marijuana that plaintiff allegedly attempted to possess. Finally, defendants failed to establish prima facie probable cause to arrest and detain plaintiff to the extent that they did for attempted unlawful possession of marijuana in the second degree … , since, had they so charged him, they only would have been permitted to issue a desk appearance ticket … . Idelfonso v City of New York, 2020 NY Slip Op 05854, First Dept 10-20-20