You be the judge! Exigent circumstances?
Here are the alleged facts:
Just after midnight on December 26, 2009, while on duty, George received a call regarding complaints of a shooting in the area of Snow Hill Road in Brooksville, Florida. George responded to the call and remained in the area for approximately half an hour but did not make contact with anyone at the time. Soon after George left the area, Plaintiffs’ neighbors Eugenia and Joseph Simpson called the police department, complaining that they heard explosions coming from Plaintiffs’ residence at 22315 Snow Hill Road. George was again dispatched to the call, but this time he spoke with Eugenia Simpson, who told him that she heard multiple loud explosions coming from Plaintiffs’ residence. Simpson reported that she heard the explosions following a verbal argument between her husband and Bratt.
After speaking with the Simpsons, George decided to contact Plaintiffs to discuss the complaint their neighbors made. George walked directly to the front door of Plaintiffs’ residence. Once there, he knocked and then heard Bratt ask, “Who is there?” In response, George identified himself as a deputy with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and said that he needed to speak with Bratt. Bratt requested to see George’s badge. So George illuminated his police badge with his flashlight and again identified himself as a deputy. At the time, George wore a standard green uniform issued by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
Bratt opened the front door approximately one foot, turned on the lights inside his house, and asked, “What’s the problem?” Again, George identified himself as an officer of the Hernando County Sheriff’s office. In response, Bratt opened the door a little wider.
By this point, Bratt’s wife, Marjorie Youmans, had come to the front door. Bratt and Youmans both began yelling at George to “get off of their property.” As Youmans yelled at George, she began to move toward George. But Bratt put his arm across her chest to prevent her from approaching George. Immediately, George yelled “domestic violence” and began pushing on the door. Bratt attempted to shut the door in George’s face, but he was unable to do so. Then George reached in through the crack of the open doorway and deployed his Taser on Bratt’s leg.
According to Plaintiffs, the front door then burst open, and George came “flying in.” But as he did so, George slipped on the wood floor, fell, and hit his face against the living-room floor. George sustained a broken nose, a laceration to the left side of his nose, and two other cuts to his face. As a result of these injuries, George began to bleed heavily while lying on the floor of Plaintiffs’ living room.
Eventually, George got to his knees. Bratt picked up George’s Taser, which was lying on the floor of the living room, and handed it to George, asking him to please not tase him again. But as Bratt began to hand George the Taser, George tried to tase Bratt again. So Bratt ripped the Taser out of George’s hand and threw the Taser to the ground.
A physical struggle ensued, with George attempting to handcuff Bratt and Bratt resisting George’s attempts. After a 20 to 25-minute struggle, George prevailed and handcuffed Bratt in his living room. A backup officer arrived, entered the residence, and escorted Bratt outside. Although Bratt was charged criminally for his actions on December 29, 2009, he was acquitted of all charges arising out of the incident.
Quiz: Does the 4A exception of “exigent circumstances” justify Officer George’s entry of the residence if the alleged facts are true?