Sunday, March 2, 2014

Another story of false arrests in Austin, Texas

A few days ago I posted a comment on a story about the arrest of a woman in Austin, Texas.  Much of the discussion was about the police's conduct, but as I pointed out, there is a torts angle to the story because the Police Chief essentially admitted to a false arrest.

Now comes another story which is just as bad, if not worse!

A couple of days ago Res Ipsa Loquitur posted a comment criticizing Autin's police department's so-called "take no changes policy" which they apparently use to arrest citizens even though they have not committed any crimes just because the police wants to make sure they don't go on to commit crimes in the near future (I guess).  Sounds like the movie Minority Report to me ...  "you are under arrest for the future murder of so and so....",  But I digress...

In any case, the story is that Austin police pulled over a man for running a red light. No problem there.  But then the police asked the man to take a voluntary breath test.  He consented and blew a 0.0. He also agreed to a blood sample and was later cleared of drugs. Having shown he was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, he was arrested anyway and spent the night in jail.

The story does not state what he was arrested for, but I doubt that you can be arrested and "sentenced" to a night in jail for running a red light.  The police officers apparently claimed they had a reasonable suspicion that the suspect was under the influence of a drug not covered by the test and did not want to take a chance. Such is the "take no chances policy", apparently.  The police think you did something wrong, so they have the right to arrest you for it, even if there is no evidence of it other than a mere suspicion.  The story also states this is not the first reported incident under this "policy."  The cases are routinely dismissed but not after citizens have to spend the night in jail.  

If these allegations are true and if there really is a customary practice based on this so-called policy, someone should start a practice specializing in false arrests in Austin!  (Just make sure you don't mention you specialize, but that is another story.)

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