Sunday, January 17, 2021

Eighth Circuit Strips Qualified Immunity From Cop Who Pulled Over A Driver For Flipping Her Off

As reported in TechDirt, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest to add to a body of case law that holds that "engaging in any law enforcement response to a flipped bird is unwise, at best."  This decision reminds police officers that being rude towards them isn't a crime.  

In this case a police officer conducted a traffic stop after the driver extended his middle finger at her as he drove past her.  Other officers arrived later to assist the first officer and the driver was handcuffed and detained for a short period of time. The driver later sued the officers and the City under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming violations of his First and Fourth Amendment rights. 

The district court granted summary judgment to the officers and the City, finding that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because the original officer had probable cause to conduct the traffic stop.  In support of the argument regarding probable cause, the officer claimed she had probable cause because of the plaintiff’s “disorderly conduct.”  However, the court declined to grant qualified immunity to the officer on the disorderly conduct violation, and she did not challenge the district court’s conclusion on appeal.  On the other claims, the Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part.  The case is called Garcia v. City of New Hope, and you can read it here.

Go here for the full story and some commentary.

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