Imagine that your 62 year old father was driving late at night after 11 hours on the road. Would you worry that he would fall asleep? Hopefully he would just pull over somewhere and take a nap if he was tired. Right? Usually, yes. But not in Spokane County, Washington.
62 year old Kevin Hinton had just driven 11 hours into his road trip back from meeting his brand new baby granddaughter in Oregon. He was too tired to continue driving. He couldn’t keep his eyes open. So he pulled over into a parking lot at Terrace View Park, in Spokane, Washington, to take a nap. Shortly afterwards he would encounter Sgt. Clay Hilton with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. Within three minutes, Hilton would forcibly remove Mr. Hinton from his vehicle in such a way as to leave him with 8 broken ribs, a punctured lung, severe concussion, shoulder injury, and a disfigured lip. Why? Because Sgt. Hilton thought he was being rude.
Police officers in Northhampton, Massachusetts, pulled a 60 year old woman over for a defective headlight. Within minutes of the traffic stop, she was violently pulled out of her car, slammed to the ground and then pepper sprayed. All criminal charges were subsequently dropped. The woman, who speaks English as a second language and had some difficulty communicating with the officers, has now hired a lawyer and is threatening to sue. Let’s go over the dash cam footage and see whether any constitutional violations occurred.
Police charged Driouech with assault and battery on a police officer, attempting to disarm a police officer, resisting arrest and refusing to identify herself, in addition to the lights violation, according to court documents. In his arrest report, Sellew alleged she tried to roll up her window and put her car in drive during the traffic stop, then resisted arrest when Sellew ordered her to step out of her car and grabbed his baton as he tried to take her down.However, the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office soon dismissed all of those criminal charges against Driouech. She did admit to the broken headlight charge in court.
Vancouver Police Department Officer Andrea Mendoza allegedly pulled a man’s pants down and threatened to charge a Taser onto his exposed genitals. This occurred immediately after police were called to Walmart due to suspected shoplifting. The man had already said he was “done” resisting by that point, body camera footage shows. But she threatened him again and held the Taser against his skin for 24 seconds.
On Tuesday, the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office filed fourth-degree assault charges against the officer. The local police union has, of course, objected to the prosecutor’s decision. Apparently, all of the criminal charges against the shoplifting suspect were dropped.
Recently, a new sheriff was elected in Los Angeles County. He held a press conference about some bodycam footage that he had just become aware of, showing a deputy punching a mother in the face, in an attempt to take the baby from the mother over concerns that she had not properly transported the child in a carseat. Did the officer act reasonably?
By the way, this is the same agency that is also under investigation for another incident, wherein an elderly woman was slammed to the ground unnecessarily.
This video was submitted by Tyler from Coweta, Georgia, showing him being pulled over while pulling into a gas station over an alleged seatbelt violation. That quickly escalated into a violent use of force wherein Tyler was slammed to the ground and tased. He was then arrested and taken to jail. Although he spoke to the supervisor, he was repeatedly accused of having “fought” with the deputies. Subsequently, all criminal charges were dropped prior to trial.
In April we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Marshall County, as well as Deputy Jason Johnson for a vicious K9 attack against our client, Kandi Wood, that took place during her arrest for a probation violation. They filed a motion to dismiss all claims and asserted qualified immunity. The Court just ruled, depriving the deputy of qualified immunity and ordering the lawsuit forward, including the Monell (pattern/practice/policy) claim against the county for their K9 policy.
The Loveland Police Department has released bodycam footage for an incident in which former 28-year-old officer Russell Maranto hit a suspect who was in protective custody in May of this year. The rookie cop was fired three days later. Does it violate an arrestee/detainee’s constitutional rights to be hit by a police officer while handcuffed? What about if the person spits on the officer?
The driver of a black GMC Sierra, who led the Arkansas State Police on an absolutely insane high-speed pursuit, did actually have legs. However, dash cam video shows that his legs appeared to be injured and totally limp, as officers dragged him across the road, handcuffed, and shoved him into the rear of a police car. Was that a constitutional violation?
On May 20, 2023, at 3:21 p.m. Arkansas State Police Trooper Jackson Shumate initiated a traffic stop on a black GMC Sierra, at US Highway 67 South at the 3 mile marker along with Trooper T. Van Schoyck and Trooper A. Escamilla. The vehicle was known to be driven by 42-year-old Christopher Monroe. Arkansas State Police said before this chase, Monroe was already wanted for drug traffic charges out of Sherwood, Arkansas. On May 4th, 2023 he fled from ASP before doing the same on the 19th. Ten days prior, police in Rockwell County, Texas put out a warrant for his arrest for evading in a motor vehicle.
Police attempted to box him in, bur failed and the chase was on. At one point early in the interaction Trooper T. Van Schoyck attempts to PIT the vehicle but ends up failing and sliding into a concrete barrier instead. Despite that failure to stop the vehicle, the police continue to chase Monroe as speeds climb. Monroe and the police cars following him cross over the Arkansas River going around 120 mph (193 km/h). Monroe then turns around and makes it only a few blocks before being hit from behind by police, which causes him to roll his truck. The GMC eventually hits a brick wall and comes to a stop on its wheels.
Because of how forceful the crash is, the police car itself almost flips. Later, Monroe is removed from the car by police who had surrounded it. Police found 64 grams of ecstasy, 100 grams of meth, 436 grams of cocaine, 89 grams of fentanyl pills, 182 grams of marijuana, 12 grams of heroin, and 46 grams of Xanax. Along with a Taurus handgun and numerous drug paraphernalia, Monroe also had $8,612 in cash in the car. He was charged with trafficking fentanyl and cocaine, possession of narcotics and methamphetamine with intent to deliver, felony fleeing, simultaneous possession of drugs and a firearm, aggravated assault of law enforcement and criminal mischief.
An arrestee has a constitutional right to be provided with medical care if there was a known, serious need for medical care. A serious medical need is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment, or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention.
Deliberate indifference is established only if there is actual knowledge of a substantial risk that the arrestee required medical treatment and if the Defendants disregarded that risk by intentionally refusing or failing to take reasonable measures to deal with the problem. Mere negligence or inadvertence does not constitute deliberate indifference.
To determine whether a police officer applied excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, we instead examine officers’ actions “in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397, 109 S.Ct. 1865, 104 L.Ed.2d 443 (1989). Specifically, we examine “the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.” Id. at 396, 109 S.Ct. 1865.
This never-before-seen footage shows my client being attacked by a police K9 in Moundsville, Marshall County, West Virginia. Cops were looking to arrest her on a probation violation. She was scared and hiding under some clothes. The K9 was used, not only to search and find her, but to punish her by violently biting and attacking her. Today we filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.
When a K9 is deployed on a citizen, that individual is “seized” for Fourth Amendment purposes. Assuming the seizure itself was lawful, the issue is whether the seizure may be “unreasonable” due to being an excessive level of force. The deployment itself of a police K9 during the course of a seizure may be unreasonable, depending on the circumstances. Courts look to the Graham Factors: the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect is actively resisting or evading, and most importantly, whether the suspect poses an immediate safety threat to the officer, or others.
Here’s the police report:
Kandi Wood was severely injured on arm due to the K9 attack:
Repeatedly over the years, the Courts have held generally that the use of serious or violent force, i.e., disproportionate force) in arresting or seizing an individual that has surrendered, or who is not actively resisting or attempting to flee, and who does not present a danger to others, is an unreasonable excessive force violation.
The Fourth Circuit has also held that sending a police dog into a home that contained a burglary suspect, without warning, resulting in severe injuries to the homeowner, was an excessive force violation. Vathekan v. Prince George’s County (4th Cir. 1998). Furthermore, doing so where the suspect was surrounded by police officers is itself unreasonable and excessive, even where a warning is given. (Kopf v. Wing (4th Cir. 1991).
The 7th Circuit has denied qualified immunity to a police officer where he failed to call off a police dog that was mauling a “non-resisting (or at least passively resisting) suspect.” Becker v. Elfreich (7th Cir. 2016). That Court also denied qualified immunity to an officer who commanded a dog to attack a suspect who was already complying with orders, and where there were multiple backup officers present. Alicea v. Thomas (7th Cir. 2016).
The Fourth Circuit cited that last case in 2017 as providing “fair warning” to police officers that they will lose qualified immunity where an officer deploys a police dog against a suspect was was “not in active flight at the time he was discovered,” but was “standing still, arms raised….” Booker v. S.C. Dep’t of Corr. (4th Cir. 2017).
Where K9s are deployed, a warning should be given, along with an opportunity to surrender, where possible. Deploying K9s on suspects who have been already subdued, surrounded, or who are not actively resisting or evading arrest, is also likely excessive force, with or without a warning. Deploying K9s on suspects who pose no immediate threat is generally going to be unreasonable. K9s should only be deployed where there exists a serious immediate safety threat in a tense, fast-moving situation, where there’s some actual reason for doing so.
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