police4aqi

Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

PA woman is allowed to resist unlawful arrest

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Case: WATSON v. HAVERFORD TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT (E.D.Pa. 5-25-2012)

What happened:  A police officer believed that a woman was blowing leaves into her neighbor’s yard, and requested her id.  The woman promised her id, but called 911 instead to protest being asked for her id.  The policeman was allowed into the woman’s house by a relative and decided to arrest the woman for refusing to provide id.  When he tried to arrest the woman, she resisted with force.  The woman sued the policeman for false arrest, arguing that the refusal to produce id was not illegal and that there were no grounds to arrest her.

Decision:

Finally, with respect to the resisting arrest offense, the Haverford Defendants argue that Mrs. Watson “would not comply with Officer Pike’s command to put her hands behind her back so she could be handcuffed.” . . . “Instead she placed her arms in front of her in order to avoid being handcuffed and began to scream at Officer Pike. While she was resisting the officers’ effort to place her in handcuffs, one of her hands came loose and the handcuff swung around and hit Officer Pike.” According to Defendants, such facts are sufficient to create probable cause to believe that Mrs. Watson was resisting arrest. Again, accepting this version of the facts, the Haverford Defendants disregard the actual elements of the offense.

Section 5104 states:
§ 5104. Resisting arrest or other law enforcement
A person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if, with the intent of preventing a public servant from effecting a lawful arrest or discharging any other duty, the person creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to the public servant or anyone else, or employs means justifying or requiring substantial force to overcome the resistance.

Notably, the statute requires the individual being charged to act with “the intent of preventing a public servant from effecting a lawful arrest or discharging any other duty.” . . . Therefore, “[i]n order for a person to be guilty of resisting arrest, there must first have been a lawful arrest.” . . . As set forth in detail above, nothing in the facts suggests that Officers Pike and Gill were effectuating a lawful arrest, especially given their lack of probable cause to believe she had committed a crime. To the extent she resisted such arrest, she was entitled to do so.

(emphasis in original, citations omitted)

Written by Burgers Allday

June 24, 2012 at 9:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. [...] PA woman is allowed to resist unlawful arrest « police4aqi [...]


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