Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Apparently selective law enforcement: Is there a problem with this?

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Case: Miles v. McNamara, Dist. Court, ND Illinois 2014

What happened:

On June 26, 2011, Miles and Brian Walsh were each driving in the same direction on Western Avenue in Chicago. Miles was in the right lane and Brian Walsh was in the left lane about 15 feet ahead of Miles. Brian Walsh turned into an empty parking lot on the right side of the street, cutting off Miles. Miles then pulled into the same parking lot, exited his car, and walked over to Brian Walsh’s car. He proceeded to give the “much younger” Brian Walsh a “high volume lecture” about “proper driving.” (Dkt. 15, Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”) ¶¶ 16-17.)

After the encounter, Brian called family friends employed by the Chicago Police Department (“CPD”) and reported the incident. He also told his father, Tim Walsh, about what had transpired. Tim Walsh, a Chicago firefighter, “recruited” his “friends and/or acquaintances” within the CPD to help. (Id. ¶ 19.) CPD employees visited the Walshes’ home on or about June 28, 2011, presenting Brian Walsh with a photo array of suspects.[3] Brian Walsh implicated Miles, who was arrested on September 8, 2011, despite defendant officers’ possession of a video that allegedly “absolved Plaintiff of any criminal culpability.” (Id. ¶ 20.) He was indicted for one count of attempted robbery, two counts of aggravated battery in a public place, and one count of unlawful restraint. Following a bench trial in March 2012, Miles was found not guilty of those three offenses but was found guilty of reckless conduct, a misdemeanor that the criminal court judge explained was a lesser included offense of the other crimes charged.[4] (Dkt. 18, Ex. 1; dkt. 24 at 4; dkt. 26 at 9.) Miles was fined $200, placed on court supervision for 18 months, and required to take anger management classes. (Dkt. 18, Ex. 1 at 3.)

Miles brought suit about a year later against the Walshes, the CPD officers he alleges were involved in his arrest, unknown officers, and the City of Chicago . . .

Decision: The police did just fine — the officers get qi on their arrest of Plaintiff Miles.

Comment: I am not sure whether I have a problem with this or not. Is it acceptable that police had discretion to charge Plaintiff Miles with battery, while not charging Defendant Brian with reckless driving (or perhaps vehicular battery, or some such)? Perhaps what bothers me a bit about this case is the fact that the apparent selectivity in law enforcement was pretty clearly based upon Defendant Brian’s family connection to the Chicago Police Department. Then again, maybe what happened here is an acceptable outcome — I am just not sure.

Written by Burgers Allday

March 15, 2014 at 8:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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