Use of Force/Mental-
Armstrong v. Pinehurst, No. 15-1191 (4th Cir. 2016)-Armstrong was mentally ill. He left a hospital to avoid being involuntarily committed. Police found him nearby. He sat on the ground and clung to a pole to avoid being taken into custody. There were several officers present. Officers tried to pry him from the pole. An officer then used a taser multiple times in drive stun mode with no effect. Armstrong was then forcibly pulled from the pole and handcuffed. He was held face down. Armstrong stopped breathing, and died shortly after.
The 4th Circuit Court held:
Where, during the course of seizing an out-numbered mentally ill individual who is a danger only to himself, police officers choose to deploy a taser in the face of stationary and non-violent resistance to being handcuffed, those officers use unreasonably excessive force. When officers encounter a minimally threatening mentally ill person, the officer is expected to de-escalate the situation and adjust the use of force downward.
Maresca v. Fuentes, No. 14-2163 (10th Cir 2015)-Fuentes, a new officer, ran the Marescas' vehicle tag on her in-car computer. She entered the tag number incorrectly. The tag she ran checked to a stolen vehicle that had a different description than the Marescas' vehicle. She did not check the vehicle description before conducting a high-risk felony traffic stop on the vehicle with other officers arriving to assist. The Marescas sued for false arrest and excessive force. Fuentes claimed that they were not arrested, but placed in investigative detention.
The Court held: Ordering people out of a vehicle at gunpoint and proning them on the ground, then handcuffing and securing them in a patrol car without any factual reason to believe they were armed and dangerous is beyond a Terry type investigative detention and is an arrest. Further, Fuentes could not rely on an unreasonable mistake of facts to develop probable cause. She had exculpatory evidence on her computer in the vehicle description which she failed to read. The arrest was unlawful and Fuentes was not entitled to qualified immunity.
Moore v. Pederson, No. 14-14201 (11th Cir 2015)-Under the Fourth Amendment, the home is a sacrosanct place that enjoys special protection from government intrusion. The government may not enter a person’s home to effect an arrest without a warrant, or probable cause plus either consent or exigent circumstances.
City of Los Angeles v. Patel, No. 13-1175 (SCOTUS, 2015)-The Court held that police, absent consent, must have a warrant or administrative subpoena to see a hotel's guest records.
Rodriguez v. US, 13-9972 (SCOTUS 2015)-The Court ruled that a traffic stop, absent reasonable suspicion or consent, cannot be extended even for a few minutes after the conclusion of a traffic stop in order to conduct a K-9 sniff of the vehicle. In this case the driver was stopped and issued a warning. He was then asked for permission to remain so the officer can conduct a K-9 sniff. The driver refused. The officer detained the driver anyway until another officer arrived. The officer conducted the K-9 sniff approx. 8 minutes after the stop was concluded. Drugs were found in the vehicle after the K-9 alerted. The driver was arrested. The Court held that the detention beyond the length of the traffic stop was an unreasonable seizure in violation of the Constitution.
Use of Force-
Aldaba v. Pickens, 13-7034 (10th Cir. 2015)-The justification for use of force on a mentally ill person with serious and deteriorating medical condition who needs treatment differs from a criminal who is a threat to the community. In this case the officers tased a patient at a hospital multiple times and forced him to the ground and handcuffed him. The patient died. The officers were not entitled to qualified immunity.