police4aqi

Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Weapons and exigency — blunt objects don’t count much

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Case: GARAY v. LIRIANO, Civil Action No. 11-1207 (JEB) (District of Columbia, May 3, 2013)

Quote:

Defendants contend that the first factor — the gravity of the offense — supports the urgency of the officers’ response. . . . Arriving on the scene of the assault, they observed [a woman] bleeding profusely from the face and called an ambulance to respond. . . . In speaking with [woman] and [an] eyewitness . . ., the officers learned that [the woman] had been “jumped” by two ladies, who pushed her to the ground, kicking and punching her. . . . Officer Sarita believed that some type of object had been used in the assault due to the amount of blood he observed. . . . The officers were then led by [the eyewitness] to the apartment where the alleged assailants lived. . . .

Even accepting the officers’ account of the gravity of the injuries, the facts here essentially support a misdemeanor assault — conceivably, an assault with a dangerous weapon — and do not approach the level of violent crime that has justified exigency. . . .
The officers’ claim of exigency is further weakened by the second factor. While they concede that there was no reason to suspect that any type of firearm had been used in the assault, they argue that this factor nonetheless tips “slightly” in their favor because two of the officers believed that some type of object had been employed in the fight. . . . Even if they so believed, this “object” was not a knife or other inherently dangerous weapon. The courts that have justified warrantless entries based in part on this factor have focused on the heightened threat and risk that result from the presence of a weapon. . . . Here, exigency cannot be justified by the conceivable use of an unknown blunt object, which every dwelling is assuredly full of.

Written by Burgers Allday

May 11, 2013 at 7:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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