Constitutional Law

This summary also appears under Civil Rights

 

Issues: Whether defendant-police officer was entitled to "qualified immunity" on the plaintiff's unlawful seizure claim; Pearson v. Callahan; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.; Whether the plaintiff suffered an unconstitutional "seizure" under 42 USC § 1983; U.S. Const. amend. IV; Terry v. Ohio; Illinois v. Wardlow; Florida v. Bostick; United States v. Beauchamp; United States v. Johnson; Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court; Whether a jury could find that the officer was "deliberately indifferent" to plaintiff's safety in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; U.S. Const. amend. XIV; Collins v. City of Harker Heights; Davis v. Brady; Stemler v. City of Florence; Lombardo v. Ernst (Unpub. 6th Cir.); Jurisdiction over the "interlocutory appeal"; Johnson v. Jones; Gardenhire v. Schubert

Court: U.S. Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit

Case Name: Family Serv. Ass'n v. Wells Twp.

e-Journal Number: 59699

Judge(s): Sutton, Norris, and Donald

 

Defendant-police officer (Kamerer) was not entitled to qualified immunity on the plaintiff-guardian's ward's (Coil's) claim for an unlawful seizure because "a reasonable jury could find that Kamerer unconstitutionally seized Coil without reasonable suspicion" based on the testimony of Coil's friend, S. The only uncontested facts were that Coil and S were pedestrians stopped at the side of the road and sitting on a guardrail when Kamerer pulled his car over and questioned them. At some point, Coil and Kamerer were involved in some type of altercation, Coil was handcuffed and left on the ground in the street, and Kamerer and Coil were struck by an SUV. According to S's "account of the evening, Coil never committed a crime or gave Kamerer any reason to think he had. Sitting on a guardrail is not illegal." Further, walking away from an officer "without answering his questions or revealing one's name does not establish reasonable suspicion for a Terry stop. And an individual's late-night presence in a high-crime area by itself does not establish reasonable suspicion . . . ." The court concluded that "no reasonable officer could find a basis to stop Coil, let alone probable cause to arrest him on this record." Because a jury "could reasonably believe that Coil did nothing suspicious that evening, Coil had a clearly established right to refuse Kamerer's questions." The court also upheld the district court's conclusion that "a reasonable jury could find that Kamerer was deliberately indifferent to Coil's safety" based on S's account "as well as the length of time Kamerer left Coil handcuffed and facedown in the road." The court also rejected Kamerer's jurisdictional argument regarding the interlocutory appeal - "[a]ppeals contesting whether the undisputed facts support reasonable suspicion or deliberate indifference do not run afoul of Johnson." Affirmed.

 

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