Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Police allowed to arrest despite photos showing they had the wrong suspect

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Case: HILL v. LEE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, Case No. 2:11-cv-242-FtM-29SPC (M.D. Florida, September 24, 2012)

What happened: A suspect tried to cash a fraudulent check using a driver’s license and social security card as id. The teller identified a suspect (who is the plaintiff here) from photographs and made out an affidavit that the plaintiff was the one attempted to cash the fraudulent check. Police arrested plaintiff on that basis. However, plaintiff claims that he was the victim of identity theft and that surveillance photos taken during the attempted cashing of the check show that he was not the one who attempted to cash the fraudulent check. Criminal charges were dropped and plaintiff was released.

Decision: QI for the police. It was deemed acceptable to ignore the surveillance photos when deciding to arrest plaintiff.

Criticism: Obviously much depends on the quality of the photos and the amount of divergence between the photos and the plaintiff’s appearance. Under Judge Steele’s reasoning, however, the police were entitled to ignore the photos, regardless of how exculpatory they were. Bad, bad, bad, bad.

Another criticism: Those surveillance photos should have been reproduced right in the body of the opinion. Scanners are cheap and plentiful these days.

Written by Burgers Allday

September 29, 2012 at 5:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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