Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Police officer makes bad application for warrant, bad arrest ensues

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Case: SMITH v. BESELER (M.D.Fla. 12-28-2011)


Matos omitted two categories of key facts from his affidavit. First, although the only evidence provided in the affidavit of Smith’s involvement [in a robbery] is Matos’s interview with Palmer, the affidavit omits a number of facts that would have seriously undermined Palmer’s credibility. Palmer was interviewed while in custody following his arrest for an automobile burglary which occurred in the vicinity of the later robbery under investigation. Although Palmer was not given a formal deal with law enforcement, he thus had an incentive to cooperate with the police. Moreover, Palmer fit the description given by Maynard of his assailants, and, as any reasonable officer would, Matos suspected that Palmer may have been involved in the robbery. Palmer also stated that he had been under the influence of illegal narcotics while the robbery took place, possibly impairing his recollection of the incident. None of these facts, however, were communicated to the state judge.

Lesson: This case shows one valuable aspect of the warrant requirement of 4a, specifically, the informational value of a warrant. Valuable information from the civil case was gleaned based on what the warrant said (and failed to say) here.

Written by Burgers Allday

January 1, 2012 at 8:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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