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    Police NOT Liable in Drowning Death of Handcuffed Escapee

    Hermann v. City of Louisville, 114 Fed. Appx. 162 (6th Cir. 2004) involved the death of Louis Hermann following his escape from police while handcuffed. Louis was arrested after being disruptive at a free outdoor concert in Louisville’s City Park, which is adjacent to the Ohio River. Louis had been acting up at the concert and was asked by an officer ...
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    Positional Asphyxia

    Another aspect of pepper-spray that leads to litigation is deaths resulting from positional asphyxia. Positional asphyxia involves the improper placement of individuals who have violently resisted causing physical exertion and sometimes exacerbated by the effects of pepper-spray which inhibits breathing. Many of these cases also involve the presence of narcotics that increases a suspect’s heart rate as well as other physiological ...
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    Presence of SRO Does Not Invalidate Interrogation

    J.D. v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 2004 Va. App. LEXIS 31 (Va. Ct. App. 2004). Following a clear trend the Court of Appeals of Virginia recently ruled that the presence of a School Resource Officer while a school official conducts an interrogation does not invalidate the interrogation. J.D. was identified as a possible suspect in some thefts occurring at his school. J.D. ...
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    Preparing a Defense in Law Enforcement Litigation: A Formula for Law Enforcement

    Any significant law enforcement event has the potential to develop in a claim made against the agency and the officers involved. The likelihood of a lawsuit is enhanced when individuals involved in the event are injured or claim a violation of their rights at the outset. Depending upon the nature of the event and the public interest involved, the media may ...
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    Procedural Time Limits In Administrative Investigations - Absolutes

    When you are involved with public employee disciplinary matters and have procedural time limits imposed on your case, failing to meet those time limits will normally result in losing the ability to discipline the employee regardless what the misconduct may be. In essence these limits are essentially a statute of limitations, in other words, bring your discipline within the allotted time ...
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    Probable Cause and Objective Reasonableness U.S. Supreme Court

    In Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S.___, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 8272 (2004), the United States Supreme Court examined a case where officers, with probable cause to arrest a subject, Jerome Alford for impersonating a police officer, instead arrested him for tape recording the officers during the investigatory stop. A previous court decision held that it was not illegal to tape police officers ...
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    Qualified Immunity in Use of Force CasesUnited States Supreme Court

    An individual officer’s greatest shield in a lawsuit that alleges a violation of civil rights is qualified immunity. A decision by the United States Supreme Court in December, further clarified the strength of this immunity. In Brosseau v.Haugen, 543 U.S.___; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 8275 (2004), the United States Supreme Court examined a case involving the use of deadly force by Officer ...
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    Property Policies and the Release of FirearmsManaging Risks

    The best way for law enforcement agencies to avoid a lawsuit is to take steps to prevent liability. Not every injury is foreseeable, however as new experiences are observed with resulting lawsuits, steps should be taken to address the potential rather than waiting for the first time it happens to your agency. A survey of agencies has revealed that not many ...
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    Reasonable Training And Policy Direction On Handling Of The Mentally Ill And Emotionally Disturbed Persons?

    In Walker v. City of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit gave law enforcement some direction for determining what training officers must be provided with to do their jobs professionally and with lower liability exposure. Essentially the case indicated that if you know to a moral certainty that officers will confront a certain situation; and ...
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    Reasonable Suspicion In School Drug Cases

    In establishing reasonable suspicion to conduct the search of a student, school officials and police officers assigned to schools should provide complete details of the facts which justified their decision to search. A case from the State of Washington provides a good example of the detail which will support such a search. State of Washington v. Huff, 2004 Wash. App. LEXIS ...
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    Reducing Liability by Subscribing to the Law Enforcement Legal & Risk Management Update

    The Law Enforcement Risk Management & Legal Update is a new periodical that provides timely updates on the law and trends impacting the law enforcement profession. The focus of this bi-monthly subscription service is the critical tasks that create liability for officers and their agencies. In addition to case summaries the reporter also includes a roll-call training section to be used ...
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    Reasonableness of Handcuffing during a valid “Terry Stop”

    Does handcuffing during a “Terry Stop” transform the stop into a full-blown arrest, which requires the officer to have probable cause rather than the lesser requirement of reasonable suspicion? A case from the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut determined that the application of handcuffs does not automatically turn an otherwise valid “Terry Stop” into a full-blown arrest. ...
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    Restraint of Autistic Student doesn’t Seize “Excessive Force” Standard

    A difficult issue in the school setting is use of force to control students and maintain a safe environment. This issue is more difficult when dealing with students who have disabilities that place them in special education. A recent case from Mississippi provides an example of how courts will analyze such uses of force under state law. In Pigford v. Jackson ...
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    Renewed Challenges Based on Miranda

    Over the past couple of years courts have seen a renewed number of claims based upon allegations related to violations of the 5th Amendment self-incrimination clause as well as violations of the rule announced in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Two cases decided on June 28th 2004 provide some guidance for law enforcement agencies with respect to the reaches ...
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    Scary Drawings—Difficult Decisions Scary Drawings—Difficult Decisions

    “This case highlights the difficulties of school administrators charged to balance their duty to provide a safe school with the constitutional rights of individual students when violence in schools is a serious concern,” wrote a federal appellate court judge in a Louisiana case, the appeal from which, the Supreme Court recently declined to hear. At the age of fourteen, and in ...
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    Retention of ID During a Consensual Encounter

    Golphin v. Florida, No. SC03-554 (December 14, 2006) The Supreme Court of Florida recently decided an important case regarding consensual encounters. In Golphin v. Florida , two police officers were on patrol in an area of Daytona Beach that is known for prostitution and narcotics traffic. The police officers were specifically in that area to conduct field interviews with individuals in ...
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    Seizure at Gunpoint

    Robinson v. Solano County, 278 F.3d 1007 (9th Cir. 2002) In Robinson v. Solano County, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had an opportunity to review whether a police officer’s pointing of a handgun at a citizen without actually pulling the trigger may violate the Fourth Amendment under some circumstances. The plaintiff in this case was James ...
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    Startled Look and Hiding Your Purse are Insufficient to Establish Reasonable Suspicion

    In S.V.J. v. State of Florida, 2005 Fla. App. LEXIS 1037 (Florida App. Ct. 2nd Dist. 2005), the Court of Appeals for Florida considered a school search case where the only facts articulated in support of the search was a startled look coupled with the appearance of trying to hide a purse. S.V.J. attended an alternative school for disruptive students. On ...
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    Shooting At Non-Threatening Fleeing Vehicle May Violate 4th Amendment

    In Flores v. City of Palacios and Officer Kalina, 381 F.3d 391 (5th Cir. 2004), the United States Court of Appeal for the 5th Circuit considered a case where an officer shot at a vehicle that refused to stop upon his command. Officer Kalina was on patrol when he shined his spotlight toward a vehicle that was parked on the wrong ...
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    Statute of Limitation Thwarts Sex-Abuse Claim

    A former parochial school student who was sexually abused by a teacher cannot proceed with a lawsuit because a Nebraska state statute prevents the filing of claims after a specific time period. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that, although there was enough evidence to find that T. Mark Kraft was sexually abused by teacher Arlen Meyer in the ...
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