Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Just wow.

with one comment


On March 29, 2007, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Chelsea Bechman was issued a traffic citation for failing to carry proof of insurance. She failed to appear or pay the fine, and a warrant was issued for her arrest. Bechman eventually appeared, and the Linn County District Court recalled the warrant on September 26, 2008. The Linn County District Court faxed the warrant recall information to the Cedar Rapids Police Department that same day.

On the evening of March 29, 2009, Cedar Rapids Police Officer Mitchell A. Magill was on duty as a patrol officer. Around 9:00 p.m., Officer Magill observed Bechman’s husband, Timothy Bechman, commit a traffic violation, and Officer Magill initiated a traffic stop. Timothy Bechman was driving Chelsea Bechman’s car. From information gleaned from his squad car computer—referred to as a “hit”—Officer Magill learned about what he later described as a “possible” Linn County arrest warrant for Chelsea Bechman. Officer Magill’s squad car computer identified the charge on the “possible” warrant: failure to carry proof of insurance. Timothy Bechman informed Officer Magill that Chelsea Bechman was at home.

After parting company with Timothy Bechman, Officer Magill called Officer Eric D. Butler to accompany him for assistance. Officers Magill and Butler proceeded to the Bechman home in separate squad cars. Officers Magill and Butler knocked at the door, and Chelsea Bechman (hereafter, Bechman) answered the door with her ten-month-old baby in her arms.

Officer Magill explained to Bechman the officers were there “in relation to a possible warrant.” Officer Magill told Bechman the warrant was for “a failure to appear for fines for insurance.” Bechman correctly advised Officers Magill and Butler the matter had been resolved and the warrant had been recalled. Officer Magill called the Cedar Rapids Police Department to “check through dispatch to learn whether [the warrant] was still valid.” The dispatcher did not verify the warrant was still valid. According to the transcript of the call, the dispatcher told Officer Magill, “Linn County is going to go ahead and fax over the hit confirmation to the Hinzman Center and the jail will go ahead and take her there and then they’ll double check with. . . the Clerk’s office on Monday morning reference [sic] the warrant, but they’re going to fax over the hit confirmation to the jail so you can go ahead and take her there.” In Officer Magill’s words, “the Sheriff’s office would confirm the existence of the warrant with the Clerk of Court the next morning.” Officer Magill did not have any reason to arrest Bechman other than the unverified “possible” warrant.

While the officers were in Bechman’s home, Bechman told the officers she was breast feeding her infant daughter and she needed to use the bathroom because she was menstruating. The officers refused to allow Bechman to use the bathroom without the door open and one of the two male officers watching. Bechman had no choice but to use the bathroom with Officer Butler observing her from the hallway. In addition, these male officers would not allow Bechman to exchange her breast milk soaked shirt for a dry one, or to put on a bra, unless one of them watched her change her clothes. She declined to do so.

Leaving the baby with Bechman’s husband, Officer Magill handcuffed Bechman, led her to his squad car, and drove her to the jail. At the jail, Bechman was strip searched and given a body cavity search. Bechman was detained at the jail overnight—the first time she had been separated from her nursing infant. The jailers released Bechman the next morning.

Case: BECHMAN v. Magill, Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit 2014

Written by Burgers Allday

March 15, 2014 at 8:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I wish I had the ‘WoW’ reaction, but this is so typical of the army of incompetent LEO’s we have commissioned in America. These dolts receive all of 4 months training before being issued a gun, a badge, a uniform, and a license to kill. Is this a great country or what?
    – amicuscuria.com/wordpress –

    Amicus Curia

    March 15, 2014 at 6:44 pm

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