Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Alegedly poor announcement leads to police slaying

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To me, one of the biggest, yet least remarked upon, problems with modern police conduct is what I call “poor announcement”  — that is, police either fail to announce their presence, or else announce in such a way that the person who needs to hear the announcement can’t hear and/or understand it.  What follows is a blurb from an apparent poor announcement case that ended in tragedy.  By the way, the police officer in this case was refused summary judgement in his favor (good!), so the case will probably settle.

Case:  ESTATE OF SAUCEDA v. City of North Las Vegas, Dist. Court, D. Nevada 2015


On the night of the incident, Plaintiffs and several other individuals were at Plaintiffs’ home celebrating New Year’s Eve. (Id. 1:15-2:19). Officer Pollard and another special operations officer of NLVPD, Michael Harris, were patrolling the neighborhood around Plaintiffs’ home in Officer Harris’s unmarked pickup truck. (Id. 2:1-2). The officers were wearing the NLVPD special operations uniform, consisting of an olive green fatigue-style shirt with subdued-colored NLVPD insignia patches on each arm, olive green fatigue-style pants, and a duty belt. (Id. 2:2-5). Before and after driving past Plaintiffs’ residence, the officers heard gunfire from somewhere in the surrounding area, and while driving past the residence they observed one individual holding what the officers believed was a rifle.[1] (Id. 2:8-13).

The officers informed dispatch they were responding to gun fire. (Id. 2:15-16). They then exited the truck several houses down from Plaintiffs’ residence, un-holstered their guns, and approached Plaintiffs’ residence on foot without activating their handgun-mounted flashlights or announcing their presence. (Id. 2:15-19). Someone standing in the driveway of Plaintiffs’ residence noticed the officers as they approached and asked who they were. (Id. 2:20-21). At that point, the officers activated their flashlights and rushed onto the property. (Id. 2:21-22). The officers also claim that they identified themselves as police, but the other witnesses testified that the officers did not identify themselves and that in their camouflage uniforms, they did not recognize the officers as police. (Id. 2:21-26).

While Officer Harris approached several individuals standing in the driveway, Officer Pollard pursued other individuals who had run toward the residence. (Id. 3:1-7). The residence includes a porch that is enclosed with a tarp, except for an opening that allowed for ingress and egress through the front door. (Id. 3:8-9). Chasing the runners, Officer Pollard ran up to the porch and pulled back the tarp, looking into the porch. (Id. 3:9-10). At this point, Officer Pollard noticed movement to his left and turned to find Fernando Sauceda (“Sauceda”) pointing a gun at his face. (Id. 3:11-13). Officer Pollard responded to this threat by holding down Sauceda’s right arm and firing twelves shots. (Id. 3:12-14). Officer Pollard’s shots hit Sauceda nine times — five in the front and four in the back — and he died soon after while attempting to flee from Officer Pollard. (Id. 3:14-21).

Written by Burgers Allday

December 10, 2015 at 8:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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