FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. Michael A. Ponsor, U.S. District Judge]
P. Allyn, with whom Allyn & Ball, P.C. was on brief, for
appellant Mark Gilbert.
J. McCarthy, with whom Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury and
Murphy, P.C. was on brief, for appellee William Jebb.
T. Liebel, with whom Law Office of John T. Liebel was on
brief, for appellee John Pronovost.
Frankel Pelletier, with whom David S. Lawless and Robinson
Donovan, P.C. were on brief, for appellees City of Chicopee
and Richard J. Kos.
Howard, Chief Judge, Torruella and Thompson, Circuit Judges.
THOMPSON, Circuit Judge.
near decade-long saga within the fragmented City of Chicopee
Police Department, Plaintiff-Appellant Mark Gilbert, a
Captain in the police department, sued a host of
Defendants-Appellees, including the City of Chicopee, Police
Chief William Jebb, Mayor Richard J. Kos, and fellow police
officer John Pronovost, seeking redress under 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and various state laws. From what we can glean,
Gilbert claims his First Amendment rights were violated after
appellees improperly targeted him for "speaking out and
participating in a government investigation." In this
appeal (which causes us to seriously ponder "who's
policing the police?"), Gilbert seeks reversal of the
district court's dismissal of his claims pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Finding no reason
to reverse, we close the curtain on this workplace drama.
OUR FACTUAL BEARINGS
sharing this tale, we construe the facts of the complaint in
the light most favorable to Gilbert.
Ocasio-Hernández v. Fortuño-Burset,
640 F.3d 1, 7 (1st Cir. 2011) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)).
While doing so, we observe, as did the district court, that
Gilbert's one-hundred-eighty-one paragraph complaint is
particularly difficult to follow. Because the district court
already parsed as best it could the facts drawn from
Gilbert's complaint and gave the narrative some
coherence, we provide and adopt the district court's
recitation of facts contained in its November 14, 2017
Memorandum and Order Regarding Defendants' Motions to
Dismiss (and we thank the district court for its herculean
least the past decade, [Gilbert] has been a police officer
for the City of Chicopee. Defendants Jebb and Pronovost were
fellow officers during this time. In 2007, Defendant
Pronovost fell into a depression after his wife died, and he
began behaving strangely at work.[*] At some point, [Gilbert]
complained about this behavior to  Jebb, who was at the
time Captain of his shift. Nothing was done in response to
[Gilbert]'s complaint. Thereafter, on an unspecified date
in December, [Gilbert] and Pronovost got into an argument
about Pronovost's behavior. During the interchange,
Pronovost allegedly pulled out his gun and pointed it at
[Gilbert]. [Gilbert] verbally reported the incident to his
commanding officer Thomas Charette.2
2[Gilbert] alleges that Jebb was in the room with [him] and
Pronovost during this incident. However,  Jebb disputes
[Gilbert]'s version, stating that the event in question
nothing was done.
In 2012, [Gilbert] was promoted to the rank of Captain, and
Charette was appointed Acting Police Chief. Defendant Jebb,
also a candidate for Acting Police Chief, allegedly resented
Charette and other police officers, including [Gilbert], who
he believed had supported Charette's appointment.
That same year, certain Chicopee Police Officers responding
to a murder scene took pictures of the victim's body and
shared them with one another and with civilians outside the
police department in violation of department regulations. At
the time, Defendant Jebb was the Internal Affairs
Investigative Officer tasked with investigating this
incident. Jebb concluded that only one officer was
responsible for the improper conduct, and he failed to
recommend, in [Gilbert]'s view, a sufficiently stringent
At some point in the 2012-2013 time frame, the investigation
into the murder scene misconduct by Chicopee Police Officers
resumed. This time the inquiry included an incident where
photographs of the murder victim's corpse were allegedly
displayed to civilians outside the police department at a
In May 2013, Jebb was relieved of his duties with Internal
Affairs, and he himself became a target of an investigation
into his conduct as the Internal Affairs Investigative
Officer. This second investigation focused, in part, on
allegations that Jebb failed to look into sexual harassment
charges against several officers. It also looked into whether
Jebb had properly investigated the officers who had
distributed the gruesome photographs from the murder scene.
Jebb had made an unsuccessful bid for the office of President
of the Police Union in 2013, and the complaint refers to an
allegation that he improperly numbered the ballots in that
election in order to be able to identify which officers
supported him and which supported his opponent, Sgt. Dan
Major. Finally,  Jebb was also accused of hiding evidence
to thwart an internal investigation into allegations that
Sgt. Major had choked a prisoner.3
3"[Gilbert]'s complaint implies that these charges
formed part of the investigation(s) then pending against Jebb
and not merely allegations on [Gilbert]'s part offered in
this litigation. (Dkt. No. 72 at 3-4). Although the complaint
is ambiguous on this point,  Jebb and Kos's Memoranda
in support of their Motions to Dismiss clarify the context to
some extent. Jebb's Memorandum notes that [Gilbert] made
"written statements and testimony . . . to a government
investigator relating to Jebb's alleged mishandling of
ballots." (Dkt. No. 28 at 1). Kos's Memorandum
observes that [Gilbert], "as a police captain and
internal affairs investigator had investigated Chief
Jebb's removal of evidence from the booking room."
[Gilbert] had been the investigating officer for the Major
investigation, and he had recommended no discipline be taken
against Sgt. Major . . . . [Gilbert] characterizes his
participation in the ongoing investigations to include
"provid[ing] information and participat[ing] in activity
which focused on Police Chief William Jebb's conduct and
practices of implementing less than proper discipline towards
his friends and retaliating against those he was not friends
with; and those who did not vote for him to be the Union
President." (Dkt. No. 67-2 at 1).
In July 2013, then-Acting Police Chief Charette asked
[Gilbert] to draft and file a written incident report about
the episode six years earlier when  Pronovost had
threatened [Gilbert] with his gun. [Gilbert] did so. The
report was technically late, in violation of Department
policy, but Charette did not discipline [Gilbert], as
[Gilbert] had verbally ...