Case Law 4 Cops contains information on hundreds of court cases. These cases are important to officers and citizens alike. The cases cover what officers can and cannot do in several areas of law. Follow the links below.
Church v. Anderson, No. 17-2077 (8th Cir. 2018)-Ofc Anderson contacted Church in his vehicle early in the morning. The officer detected an odor of alcohol and burnt marijuana. The officer escorted Church to his patrol car. Church, who out weighs Ofc Anderson by 80 lbs, punched the officer in the head. Church continued to pummel him. Ofc Anderson was lightheaded and exhausted. He felt Church pulling on his gunbelt. The officer warned Church that he would shoot if Church did not stop hitting him. He did not. Ofc Anderson shot Church in the abdomen. Church approached the officer again. He fired two more times. Church lived and was found guilt by the jury for assault on a police officer. Church sued Ofc Anderson. The district court granted Ofc Anderson qualified immunity. Church appealed. Church claimed that the court should presume that Ofc Anderson used excessive force because he was issued audio/video recording equipment and did not use it. The court would not even consider this argument. Church further claimed that he was unarmed and the officer did not use a less violent means to subdue him. Finally, the officer did not give him a second warning after the first shot. The Court held that Church posed an immediate threat to Ofc Anderson's safety and was actively resisting arrest. Church out weighed Ofc Anderson and Ofc Anderson feared that he would lose consciousness and Church would use his gun to kill him. As to the officer's failure to use alternate means to subdue Church, the court said an officer need not "pursue the most prudent course of conduct as judged by 20/20 hindsight vision." Because deadly force was justified, Ofc Anderson did not need to give a second warning before shooting. Ofc Anderson's actions were objectively reasonable and is entitled to qualified immunity.
E.W. v. Dolgos, No. 16-1608 (4th Cir. 2018)-SRO Dolgos handcuffed a calm, compliant ten-year-old who was surrounded by multiple adults in a closed room for hitting another child three days earlier. Although not injured by the handcuffing and only being handcuffed for 2 minutes, the lower court and Circuit Court ruled that handcuffing a minor under these circumstances was an excessive use of force. The Circuit Court ruled, however, that E.W.'s right not to be handcuffed under these circumstances was not clearly established at the time it occurred. Dolgos, therefore, had qualified immunity.
Callwood v. Jones, No. 16-1745 (11th Cir 2018)-The suspect Illidge appeared to suffer from excited delirium. He was naked, covered in scratches, and was walking down the street. The first officer on scene contacted Illidge and asked him to stop and speak with the officer. Illidge ignored him and continued walking. Illidge then suddenly turned and approached the officer. The officer warned Illidge to stop or he would be tased. Illidge continued approaching. The officer tased him with no effect. Illidge walked away toward a nearby home. Illidge was tased a second time. He fell to the ground. The officer tried to restrain him. Illidge displayed super-human strength. He was tased three more times with no effect. Illidge threw the officer at least ten feet then ran away. Several officers arrived and assisted in restraining Illidge. He was handcuffed and hogtied. He continued to actively kick and resist. He was tased at least fourteen more times during the encounter. The officers repeatedly talked to Illidge telling him to calm down. Illidge suddenly went limp and died.
The officers were sued by a family member for excessive use of force. Both the lower court and the 11th Circuit Court found that the officers actions did not clearly violate established law and they were entitled to qualified immunity. The Circuit Court stated that Illidge resisted the officers' attempts to stop him, ignored their commands to calm down, appeared to suffer from excited delirium, and displayed "superhuman" strength. He struggled and kicked even after he was restrained. Given these facts the officers were entitled to qualified immunity.
Mitchell v. Schlabach, No. 16-1522 (6th Cir 2017)-A Michigan police officer stopped Mitchell on traffic on a report that he assaulted someone and was driving drunk. Mitchell stopped than sped away causing a car chase. Mitchell fled through neighborhoods and drove at speeds of 100 mph in the pouring rain. After a 10 minute chase, Mitchell crashed in a ditch. The officer drew his gun and approached Mitchell, who had exited his vehicle. The officer repeatedly ordered Mitchell to get on the ground. Mitchell, instead, turned and walked toward the officer. He had clenched fists, wide eyes, and walked quickly toward the officer. He refused to follow any commands. The officer was pointing his gun at Mitchell. The officer backed away from Mitchell, but Mitchell closed the gap and got within approx. 21 ft of the officer. The officer shot him once. Mitchell continued to purposely approach the officer. He shot again, killing Mitchell. A family member sued the officer for excessive use of force. The court held that the officer was alone in an unpopulated forest after a 100 mph chase. Mitchell disregarded a gun being pointed at him and charged the officer. The officer was justified in shooting him. The officer had qualified immunity.
US v. Sanchez, No. 17-4000 (10th Cir 2018)-Sanchez was stopped on traffic by a Utah Highway Patrol Trooper for speeding. Sanchez did not have a driver license with him and he was driving a rental car. The Trooper reviewed the rental agreement. The agreement showed a different person not in the vehicle rented the car. The Trooper contacted the rental company. The car was overdue to be returned and it was being driven by an unauthorized person. The company wanted the Trooper to impound the vehicle. During the inventory, the Trooper found 10 bricks of methamphetamine. Defendant argued Trooper Withers's subjective intent to uncover evidence of a crime invalidated the search. An inventory search is invalid only if it is undertaken for the "sole purpose of investigation." Colorado v. Bertine, 479 U.S. 367, 372 (1987) (emphasis added). "While mixed motives or suspicions undoubtedly exist in many inventory searches, such motives or suspicions alone will not invalidate an otherwise proper inventory search." United States v. Cecala, 2000 WL 18948, *2 (10th Cir. 2000) (unpublished). Here, Trooper Withers impounded the vehicle because Enterprise requested the impound when it learned no authorized driver was in the area. Although Trooper Withers stated he hoped to search the vehicle for drugs, searching for drugs was not the sole motive for the inventory. Once Enterprise requested the impound, Trooper Withers was required to conduct the inventory search of the car and its contents. As a dual motive does not invalidate an otherwise lawful impound and inventory, we hold Trooper Withers's subjective intent to uncover evidence of a crime did not invalidate the lawful search.