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.
US v. Shrum, No. 17-3059 (10th Cir. 2018)-Shrum's common-law wife died unexpectedly. She had a seizure and was taken to the hospital where she died. The police arrived and secured the residence. They did not allow Shrum to enter the house. After approx. 3 hours, the police obtained a consent to search from Shrum to enter the house to obtain the wife's medication in anticipation of an autopsy. The officer took this opportunity to also take over 50 pictures while inside. The officer saw in plain sight in a closet some ammunition. After the officer returned to the station, he checked Shrum and found that he was a convicted felon. The officer contacted a federal agent who used the information to obtain a search warrant. Shrum still had not been allowed in the home when the search warrant was executed. Firearms and methamphetamine were found in the home. Shrum was arrested. Shrum tried to get the evidence suppressed in the lower court, but was unsuccessful. The case was appealed to the 10th Circuit Court. The Court held that there was no probable cause to seize Shrum's house. There is also no "unexplained death scene exception" to the Fourth Amendment. The police had no information that Shrum had evidence of a crime in his home. The actions of the police were a fishing expedition with no facts to support their actions in seizing Shrum's home. The subsequent discovery of the evicence, although by consent, is tainted by the illegal seizure of the home from the beginning. The evidence was suppressed.
Montanez v. Carvajal, No. 16-17639 (11 Cir. 2018)-Officers were investigating a possible residential burgarly in progress. Two subjects were detained. The officers made a quick 10 second entry into the residence. They then searched and arrested the subjects. When additional officers arrived, they entered and conducted a sweep of the residence. During the sweep, marijuana and paraphernalia were found. The items were left in the residence. Officers re-entered the residence 4 more times in regards to the marijuana before obtaining a search warrant. A suspected residential burglary presents an "exigent circumstance" justifying a warrantless entry of the residence to search, justifying the second search. The Court further held that once a person's right to privacy is invaded legally by an officer, the person has lost his reasonable expectation of privacy to the extent of the invasion. The additional warrantless entries into the residence by additional investigators does not offend the Fourth Amendment.
Crocker v. Beatty, No. 17-13526 (11th Cir. 2018)-Crocker used his iPhone to photograph and video a vehicle accident. a deputy seized Crocker's phone. Crocker sued. The Court held that the seizure constituted a Fourth Amendment violation. It also held that the deputy was not entitled to qualified immunity. The deputy argued that the destruction of the evidence was imminent because the nature of cell phones make them easy to destroy or hide. The Court held that this argument was not sufficient to establish an exigent circumstance. The Court has made similar rulings and Crocker's rights were clearly established at the time.
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.