Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Man is arrested for being pushed by policeman on an escalator

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Case: BARKSDALE v. COLAVITA (N.D.N.Y. 10-5-2011)

What allegedly happened: Policeman wanted to get past the Plaintiff on an escalator, in order to get to the scene of a domestic situation, elsewhere in the shopping mall which apparently did not involve the Plaintiff. So, the policeman shoved Plaintiff. In response to the shove, Plaintiff lost his balance and his arms moved. When his arms moved, they came into contact with the policeman. The police took down Plaintiff and arrested him for obstruction.

[P]laintiff claims he was pushed from behind and heard a male voice say “move, move,” and plaintiff “kind [of] lost [his] balance and put [his] hand back.” Plaintiff testified that he then heard someone say, numerous times, that you “don’t touch a police officer.” After plaintiff heard this statement, he turned his head over his left shoulder and saw Officer Colavita. Plaintiff testified that he said to himself, “Oh, I touched a police officer.” Plaintiff testified that Officer Colavita was “grabbing, tussling and screaming and yelling.” Plaintiff testified that he was then “taken down” by Officer Colavita, while they were still on the escalator.

Decision: No liability for the police here because police officers cannot be expected to determine the difference between being touched as an involuntary response to being shoved and more purposeful kinds of touching.

Written by Burgers Allday

October 7, 2011 at 3:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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