A marital spat and an aggressive police response
Case: STOREY v. GARCIA (D.N.M. 9-1-2011)
What happened: Husband and wife had an argument about a thirty-five dollar service charge on a credit card bill. Police were called and arrived some time later. Husband would not tell the police what the argument was about. The police officers responded by performing an arm bar takedown of the husband, arresting him and taking him to jail. After this happened, a police officer closed the wife inside her house. Under questioning, the wife reluctantly told the police officers what the argument was about. Police did not arrest the wife.
Decision: Police are liable. Jury decided and judge agrees.
Comment: Some of the dispute was focused on whether the police initially had the right to enter the house to check on everyone’s safety based on the 911 call about the argument. The opinion avoids this sticky issue by pointing out that the police officers did not show any concerns about safety of the occupants of the home after they arrested the husband. This suggests that the police may have been dishonest about their motives.