Policemen said that they smelled alcohol
Case: McALISTER v. TRUJILLO (D.N.M., August 11, 2011)
Decision: Police may end up being liable here.
Comment: It depends on whether the jury would believe the arrestee (who was a law enforcement officer herself) or the three policemen who said that they smelled alcohol.
Next, the Court must determine whether McAlister has alleged adequate facts to support a claim that her arrest was without probable cause. Here, she alleges that Trujillo refused to perform a field sobriety test on her, and that instead he detained or arrested her based upon reports from Goke and Harvey that they smelled alcohol on her, as well as his own stated observation to the same effect. McAlister alleges that these observations had to be false because she had not been drinking, and because she had not spoken to Harvey or Goke that evening. She alleges that she relayed that information to Trujillo. Further, although she does not expressly allege in her complaint that Trujillo knew that Harvey and Goke were lying, or that he himself was lying, she implies as much from her allegations that she had not been drinking, had not spoken to Harvey or Goke, and that various State Police Officers were attempting to intimidate her and her cousin as a result of her cousin’s domestic violence complaint against a fellow State Police officer. . . . Here, McAlister has alleged facts that, if true, would support her claim that Trujillo detained her on suspicion of DUI even though he knew that she had not been drinking that night. The Court concludes that at this stage of the litigation McAlister has alleged sufficient facts to support a claim of arrest without probable cause.