Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

Officer David Ramsay Moses said, “stop fighting,” but was there really any fighting?

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This case arises out of a confrontation between Mr. Glasscox and Officer Moses on July 24, 2014. The parties do not dispute the fundamental facts of this case, but they greatly dispute their interpretation.

On that day, Mr. Glasscox was driving erratically on Interstate 59 South near the city of Argo. Mr. Glasscox is a Type I diabetic, and his doctor stated in an affidavit that he believed was suffering from a hypoglycemic episode during the incident. The Argo City Police dispatched Officer Moses to intercept Mr. Glasscox after they received reports of a reckless driver on the freeway. Officer Moses located Mr. Glasscox’s vehicle and engaged his emergency lights and sirens, signaling for Mr. Glasscox to pull over.

Mr. Glasscox did not comply. Officer Moses pursued Mr. Glasscox for nearly five miles. During the pursuit, Mr. Glasscox swerved his vehicle, often straddling the shoulder of the road and the median. Eventually, Mr. Glasscox drove completely onto the median, crossing towards the northbound side of the interstate. The vehicle stopped right alongside the northbound left-hand lane.

Officer Moses exited his police car and approached Mr. Glasscox’s vehicle with his weapon drawn. Although Officer Moses had called in the vehicle’s license plate number, he had not received any information concerning Mr. Glasscox’s identity or whether any outstanding warrants for his arrest.

Officer Moses opened Mr. Glasscox’s driver side door and ordered Mr. Glasscox to lift his hands, unbuckle his seatbelt, and get out of the car. Mr. Glasscox raised his hands but did not comply with the other two instructions. Mr. Glasscox told Officer Moses, “I’m sorry, man.” Officer Moses repeated his instruction to unbuckle the seatbelt and get out of the car. Mr. Glasscox unbuckled his seatbelt. Once again, Officer Moses told Mr. Glasscox to “get out.” Mr. Glasscox responded, “I’m going to get out. Shut up. . . .” Officer Moses then fired his taser, shooting the electric probes into Mr. Glasscox’s body. Officer Moses states he deployed his taser because Mr. Glasscox’s right arm reached out of view towards the middle seat console and he feared for his own safety.

A tase conveys electricity into the target’s body for five seconds. Mr. Glasscox attempted to pull the probes out of his body. Officer Moses ordered him to “stop it” and fired his taser a second and third time, during which he warned Mr. Glasscox that he will “give it to him again” and once again ordered him out of the car. Officer Moses testified he tased Mr. Glasscox again because he was “actively resisting my ability to take him into custody.” (Doc. 31-1 at 80). Officer Moses also testified that he could see Mr. Glasscox’s hands after the first tase.

Officer Moses then reached into the vehicle and grabbed Mr. Glasscox’s wrist. Officer Moses repeated his instruction for Mr. Glasscox to get out of the car and Mr. Glasscox said, “I will.” Approximately two seconds later, Officer Moses again ordered Mr. Glasscox to “stop it.” Officer Moses appears to place the taser against Mr. Glasscox’s leg to administer a contact tase. Mr. Glasscox placed his hand on the taser as Officer Moses tased him for a fourth time. Officer Moses told him to “stop fighting” and to “get out.” Officer Moses testified that he tased Mr. Glasscox a fourth time because he “was trying to take the taser out of my hand when it was pressed up against his leg.” . . . Mr. Glasscox contends that he was not actively resisting arrest, but that his physical reactions were a natural reaction to being tased.

Mr. Glasscox then said, “Okay,” and exited the vehicle as Officer Moses was holding Mr. Glasscox’s left wrist. The total time elapsed from when Officer Moses opened the vehicle door until Mr. Glasscox exited was approximately one minute. Officer Moses then took Mr. Glasscox into custody without incident.

Officer Moses cited Mr. Glasscox for reckless driving, eluding a police officer, and resisting arrest. An Argo Municipal Court convicted Mr. Glasscox on all three offenses. Mr. Glasscox has appealed his conviction to Jefferson County Circuit Court.


And there is a companion opinion from the same case:

As a basis for those claims, Mr. Glasscox alleges the following relevant facts in his complaint. On July 24, 2014, Mr. Glasscox was driving on I-59 South. Officer Moses pulled Mr. Glasscox over after a several-mile pursuit. Officer Moses ran to Mr. Glasscox’s vehicle, opened the door, and ordered him to exit. Mr. Glasscox did not comply at first because he was having a diabetic episode and did not understand the situation. Officer Moses deployed his taser on Mr. Glasscox. Mr. Glasscox remained in the vehicle. Officer Moses tased Mr. Glasscox three additional times. At one point during the incident, Officer Moses had his taser in one hand and his firearm in the other, both pointed at Mr. Glasscox.

Mr. Glasscox also alleges that Officer Moses was employed by Alabama police departments in the past and was disciplined for exercising poor judgment and failing to follow department policies. Specifically, Mr. Glasscox alleges that before being hired by Argo, Officer Moses had been disciplined for using a shotgun in a crowd control situation and destroying evidence.

Mr. Glasscox also alleges that a civil suit was filed against Officer Moses related to an incident where he, while off-duty, pursued two college students from Tuscaloosa to Calera. Moses arrested the two students, but no charges where filed against them. After reviewing Officer Moses’s file, the Tuscaloosa Police Department Disciplinary Board recommended that he be terminated. Officer Moses’s file included two informal counseling sessions, one formal counseling session, and documentation of two other incidents. In the Board’s view, “all of these incidents show that Officer Moses has grossly poor judgment.” One document in the file noted that Officer Moses was “showing a pattern of using bad judgment dealing with situations involving moderate levels of stress levels and tactics.” Officer Moses involuntarily resigned from the Tuscaloosa Police Department.

Mr. Glasscox claims Argo failed to contact the Tuscaloosa Police Department to inquire about Officer Moses’s employment there, or in the alternative, ignored the department’s disclosure. Further, Mr. Glasscox alleges that information concerning the civil suit against Officer Moses was publicly available.



Written by Burgers Allday

October 1, 2016 at 5:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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