AELE Seminars

Public Safety Discipline and Internal Investigations
Oct. 12-14, 2015 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Jail and Prisoner Legal Issues
Jan. 25-28, 2016 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Use of Force:
Lethal and Less Lethal Force and the
Management, Oversight and Monitoring of Use of Force
Including ECW Operations and Post-Incident Forensics
In two 2-day modules Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas
April 4-5 and April 6-7, 2016

Click here for more information about all AELE Seminars



 Search the Case Law Digest


A civil liability law publication for Law Enforcement
ISSN 0271-5481 Cite this issue as: 2015 LR May
Click here to view information on the editor of this publication.

Access the multi-year Civil Liability Case Digest

Return to the monthly publications menu
Report non-working links here
Some links are to PDF files - Adobe Reader must be used to view content

CONTENTS

Digest Topics
Assault and Battery: Physical
Electronic Control Weapons: Dart Mode Cases
False Arrest/Imprisonment: No Warrant
False Arrest/Imprisonment: Warrant
False Arrest/Imprisonment: Unlawful Detention
Firearms Related: Intentional Use
First Amendment (2 cases)
Malicious Prosecution (3 cases)

Resources

Cross References


AELE Seminars

Public Safety Discipline and Internal Investigations
Oct. 12-14, 2015 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Jail and Prisoner Legal Issues
Jan. 25-28, 2016 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Use of Force:
Lethal and Less Lethal Force and the
Management, Oversight and Monitoring of Use of Force
Including ECW Operations and Post-Incident Forensics
In two 2-day modules Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas
April 4-5 and April 6-7, 2016

Click here for more information about all AELE Seminars


MONTHLY CASE DIGEST

Assault and Battery: Physical

     A woman claimed that an officer who came to the door of her home looking for a missing juvenile grabbed her arm, threw her to the ground, punched her, jumped on her, handcuffed her, and pulled her to her feet by her hair. A federal appeals court ruled that the officer was properly denied summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. If her version of the incident was believed, the officer had, at most, reason to believe that she might be guilty of a misdemeanor of contributing to the minor's delinquency, she answered all the officer's questions, gave no indication that she was inclined to harm him, and was full compliant and responsive to all his instructions and requests. Smith v. Ray, #12-1503, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 4391 (4th Cir.).

Electronic Control Weapons: Dart Mode Cases

     Officers responding to a noise complaint entered an apartment and fired a Taser in the dart mode at a male resident, activating it for a total of 26 seconds--one five second application and a second 21 second activation. The man started to foam at the mouth, stopped breathing, and went into cardiac arrest. He remained hospitalized for two weeks and suffered an anoxic brain injury due to lack of oxygen, greatly impairing his mental functioning. Bth he ad his wife were initially charged with disorderly conduct, but those charges were dropped. The officers were properly denied summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity as there were disputed issues of material fact as to whether a warrantless entry was in fact justified by the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement--which requires both the potential for injury to the officers or others and the need for swift action. Additionally, as to the excessive force claim, a jury could reasonably determine that the alleged disorderly conduct was not a serious crime for purposes of deciding whether excessive force was used in effecting an arrest for that crime, that the uninterrupted 21 second second application of the Taser was "atypically long," and that it was reasonable to hold the officer accountable for taking note of changes in the man's physical condition over the total 26 second time that the Taser was used. The man had a clearly established constitutional right not to have the Taser used on him when he was, as he claimed, offering at most passive resistence to the officer, as well as not to have the Taser gratuitously used after he ceased all resistance. Goodwin v. City of Painesville, #14-3120, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 4417, 2015 Fed. App. 48P (6th Cir.).

     In a prior decision in the case, a federal trial court barred the defense from presenting a police chief's expert witness report on the medical aspects of a Taser used in dart mode. The expert witness admitted that he could not offer relevant opinions on the medical impact of the Taser based on scientific evidence beyond what the jurors could learn from available medical and scientific literature. The chief was presented as an expert in police procedures "and not as an expert in the medical and technical effects of Tasers." He could not properly present "medical conclusions regarding the physical effects of Taser use outside of his purported, experientially based, expertise." Nall v. City of Painesville, #1:10 CV 02883, 2012 U.S. Dist. Lexis 66123, 2012 WL 1658623 (N.D.Ohio).

False Arrest/Imprisonment: No Warrant

     Three officers were sued for ther involvement in the warrantless arrest of a vehicle passenger for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, charges which were later dropped. A federal appeals court held that summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunty was proper on a false arrest claim, as the officers had probable cause for the arrest because one officer saw the plaintiff throw a crack pipe out of his car window. Two of the arresting officers, however, were not entitled to qualified immunity because they allegedly delayed seeking medical care when the passenger was shot in the genitals, acting with deliberate indifference and reporting his injury as a "laceration." The third officer, who arrived later, was entitled to qualified immunity, however, as there was no indication that he knew that the other officers caused a delay in medical care. Valderrama v. Rousseau, #13-15752, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 4116 (11th Cir.).

False Arrest/Imprisonment: Warrant

     After charges concerning suspected involvement in a racially motivated attack were dropped against an arrestee, he sued the detective who applied for and obtained the arrest warrant, claiming that he had both omitted material information and supplied false information, so the warrant lacked probable cause. A federal appeals court, upholding a grant of qualified immunity to the detective, found that the modified affidavit, even without the complained of omissions and alleged false information, still established probable cause to believe that the arrestee had committed a bias-motivated crime, involvement in an attack by a group of African-American gang members on a Caucasian man, even if he did not himself hit the man. Puller v. Baca, #13-1156, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 4572 (10th Cir.).

False Arrest/Imprisonment: Unlawful Detention

     A high school student was detained for 23 days while police investigated a schoolyard fight that caused the death of another student. A video of the fight showed a male student who punched the victim as he tried to stand up, and the plaintiff was identified as one of two assailants by an officer assigned to the school, by another student, and by two school staff members, who all viewed the video. Charges initially made against the plaintiff were ultimately dropped when it was established that he was not involved in the incident. A federal appeals court upheld summary judgment for the defendant officers, finding that they had probable cause to make the arrest on the basis of the identifications by those who viewed the video, so there was no false arrest. As to the length of the detention, it was not excessive or unreasonable, as there was no indication that any of the defendants imposed a deelay for improper motives such as punishing the plaintiff or "drumming up" evidence merely to justify his arrest. Bailey v. City of Chicago, #13-3670, 779 F.3d 689 (7th Cir. 2015).

Firearms Related: Intentional Use

****Editor's Case Alert****

     A rape suspect led officer on a highway car chase before crossing the median, accelerating the wrong way, and ramming his vehicle head-on into a semitrailer. Officers fatally shot the suspect after he reached down into the car disobeying commands to show his hands, and then clasped his hands together in a shooting posture, pointing towards the officers, who then fired 80 shots. No weapon was foundf in the suspect's car. A federal appeals court held that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity on an excessive force claim. They had probable cause to believe that the decedent had a gun and posed a threat of serious physical harm.. From radio reports, they knew thar he was suspected of a serious crime, wanted to avoid arrest, and might be armed. They were told that he had a concealed-crry permt. The fact that he had no such permit and was actually unarmed did not change the result, as their belief to the contrary was reasonable and they "did not and could not have known" anything to the contrary. Pollard v. City of Columbus, #13-4142, 780 F.3d 395 (6th Cir. 2015).

First Amendment

    Groups of protestors, including some concerned with alleged sexual abuse by clergy and others promoting acceptance of gay, lesbian, or transgender people or Catholic ordination of women, filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Missouri state statute prohibiting intentional disturbance of a "house of worship" through the use of "profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior . . . either within the house of worship or so near it as to disturb the order and solemnity of the worship services." They argued that the law was facially invalid under the First Amendment. A federal appeals court agreed. The court commented that there was no actual evidence of disturbance to houses of worship or indication that protests had interfered with church members' entry or exit from services. The law, the court found, made content-based distinctions on the type of expression allowed near a church. this could cause "a substantial risk of suppressing ideas in the process." Law enforcement officials were given impermissible power to look at the content of the message. The law could not survive the scrict scrutiny appropriate for content-based distictions that were not necessary to achieve the asserted interest in protecting free religious exercize. Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests v. Joyce, #13-3036, 779 F.3d 785 (8th Cir. 2015).

     A group of advocates for homeless peopl were threatened with arrest and then arrested for loud chanting to protest an organized walk by elected officials and their supporters through a skid row area. They were charged under a state statute under which "willfully disturb or break up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its character" other than a political meeting, is a misdemeanor. A federal appals court found that, while the statute in question was not facially unconstitutional, it was unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiff's behavior, or political meetings as occurred here. The statute was improperly applied in this case to a group's protest of a meeting of public officials and members of the public to discuss conditions in the skid row area. As to public meetings in which people assemble to consider "public questions," arrests of protestors are only allowable if a protestor engages in "threats, intimidations, or unlawful violence," not for non-violent political protest. CPR For Skid Row v. City of Los Angeles, #12-55289,779 F.3d 1098 (9th Cir. 2015).

Malicious Prosecution

****Editor's Case Alert****

     A $20 million settlement as been reached in a wrongful conviction lawsuit brought by a man who spent 20 years in prison on a life sentence for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl before DNA evidence pointed to someone else as the culpable party. The settlement will be paid by county law enforcement and law enforcement agencies from a number of towns involved in the investigation. The lawsuit claimed that a confession given by the plaintiff was not true and was coerced as a result of four straight days of interrogation, including one session that lasted 24 hours. The girl's blood soaked shoes, which had blood from the rapist/murderer, were ever introduced in evidence at trial, which the lawsuit pointed to as proof that the prosecution was a "frame-up." The plaintiff was convicted three separate times in jury trials before being exonerated. The settlement is reportedly the largest wrongful conviction settlement for an individual person in the U.S. Rivera v. Lake County Illinois, #1:12-cv-08665, U.S. Dist. Ct. (N.D. Ill. March 20, 2015).

     A man who served over 26 years on a conviction for secod degree murder was released after a federal court determined that falsified evidence had been introduced at his trial. The state dismissed the charges rather than retrying the case. The man sued, claiming that two police detectives fabricated photos of the crime scene, investigative notes, and police reports. A federal appeals court upheld an order denying the defendants motion for absolute witness immunity. The notes, investigative reports, and photographs fell out of the scope of absolute immunity, and the defendants plainly acted in an investigative capacity in producing them. These materials were not inextricably linked to the defendants' court testimony. Lisker v. Monsue, #13-55374, 2015 U.S. App. Lexis 4564 (9th Cir.).

     A D.C. prisoner was incarcerated for over two decades in both federal and state prisons on a conviction for raping and robbing a woman in 1981 when he was 18. After his parole, he was required to register as a sex offender, limting his employment, housing, and other opportunities. During his incarceration, he suffered multiple instances of sexual and physical assaults, and contracted HIV. In 2012, at the age of 50, he was exonerated and determined to be actually innocent of the robbery and rape, based on DNA evidence. He reached a settlement of claims against the fedeeral government under the Unjust Convictions Act, 28 U.S.C. Secs. 1495 and 25a3, and the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2671 et seq. of $1,128,082.19, based on $50,000 times the 22.56 years he was incarcerated. Continuing to pursue his claims against the District of Columbia inder the D.C. Unjust Imprisonment Act, D.C. Code Sec. 2-421 et. seq., he was awarded $9,154,500 in damages for wrongful conviction, unjust imprisonment, sexual and physical assaults, contracting HIV, lost income, and physcal and psychological injuries. A D.ZC. court found that his wrongful conviction and unjust imprisonment had been a proximate cause of all these damages. It also rejected an argument that D.C. was entitled to an offset from the award for the amount of the plaintiff's settlement with the federal government. Odom v. District of Columbia, #2013-CA-3239, 2015 D.C. Super. Lexis 2.

Return to the Contents menu.

Report non-working links here


AELE Seminars

Public Safety Discipline and Internal Investigations
Oct. 12-14, 2015 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Jail and Prisoner Legal Issues
Jan. 25-28, 2016 Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas

Use of Force:
Lethal and Less Lethal Force and the
Management, Oversight and Monitoring of Use of Force
Including ECW Operations and Post-Incident Forensics
In two 2-day modules Orleans Hotel, Las Vegas
April 4-5 and April 6-7, 2016

Click here for more information about all AELE Seminars


Resources

     Arrest Related Deaths: Arrest-Related Deaths Program Assessment: Technical Report, by Duren Banks, Caroline Blanton, Lance Couzens, and Devon Cribb, Bureau of Justice Statistics (March 3, 2015, NJCJ 248544).

     Arrest Related Deaths: Arrest-Related Deaths Program: Data Quality Profile, by Duren Banks, Caroline Blanton, Lance Couzens, Devon Cribb, and Michael Planty, Bureau of Justice Statistics (March 3, 2015, NJCJ 248543).

     Interrogation: Nonconfrontational Interrogation: Obtaining Confessions from Streetwise Gang Members, by John J. Guzman, FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (April, 2015).

     Racial Profiling: DOJ Review of Ferguson - Is it a blueprint? by Eric Daigle (March, 2015).

     Racial Profiling: Stop and Frisk in Chicago, ACLU of Illinois (March, 2015).

  Reference:

Cross References
Defenses: Absolute Witness Immunity -- See also Malicious Prosecution (2nd case)
DNA Testing and Issues -- See also, Malicious Prosecution (1st and 3rd cases)
False Arrest/Imprisonment: No Warrant -- See also, False Arrest/Imprisonment: Unlawful Detention
False Arrest/Imprisonment: No Warrant -- See also, First Amendment (2nd casee)
Medical Care -- See also, False Arrest/Imprisonment: No Warrant
Federal Tort Claims Act - See also Malicious Prosecution (3rd case)
Interrogation -- See also Malicious Prosecution (1st case)
Search and Seizure: Home/Business -- See also, Electronic Control Weapons: Dart Mode Cases

Report non-working links here

Return to the Contents  menu.

Return to the  monthly publications menu

Access the multiyear Civil Liability Law  Case Digest

List of  links to court websites

Report non-working links  here.

© Copyright 2015 by AELE, Inc.
Contents may be downloaded, stored, printed or copied,
but may not be republished for commercial purposes.

Library of Civil Liability Case Summaries

 Search the Case Law Digest