Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Judge Pooler holds that refusal to stop for police is not resonable suspicion

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Case: US v. Freeman, No. 12-2233-cr (2d Cir. Nov. 7, 2013).


As the police lacked reasonable suspicion, Freeman certainly had the right to ignore the officers and continue on his way. Freeman merely continued walking in the same direction, and ostensibly at the same pace, as the police never contended otherwise. If we accepted the government’s argument that such a simple refusal to comply could create reasonable suspicion where none existed before, we would create a truly paradoxical class of individuals: individuals who cannot be stopped by officers, but who can be stopped if they refuse to stop. Such a conclusion would gut the Court’s repeated determination that an individual approached by the police need not answer any question put to him; indeed, he may decline to listen to the questions at all and may go on his way. He may not be detained even momentarily without reasonable, objective grounds for doing so; and his refusal to listen or answer does not, without more, furnish those grounds. [internal quotation marks omitted]

Comment: It is nice to see the Second Circuit shut down this oft-played police gambit. By the way, this is not a qualified immunity case, but, rather a criminal case. That means that it took some fortitude for the Second Circuit panel majority to free the armed felon. The opinion does not state whether NYPD Officers Joseph Walsh and Ryan Conroy were subjected to any discipline for violating defendant Freemnan’s 4A rights.

Written by Burgers Allday

November 16, 2013 at 8:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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