CA8: Ptf couldn’t overcome QI on his facts of consent

After a search warrant was executed with a flash bang device, a St. Louis building inspector came and got consent from the occupant to conduct a search. The building inspector was entitled to qualified immunity because they can’t show their factual allegations were sufficient to overcome qualified immunity. Estate of Walker v. Wallace, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2993 (8th Cir. Feb. 8, 2018)*:

We acknowledge that it appears that the occupant in Appel was evidently not in handcuffs when he gave his consent to search, but we have held that even a person who is arrested and handcuffed for two hours can voluntarily consent to a search, see, e.g., Comstock, 531 F.3d at 677-78; so the handcuffs are not enough to deny Wallace the protection of Appel’s shade and render Millbrooks’s consent obviously involuntary. The plaintiffs themselves acknowledge that the fact that Millbrooks was handcuffed is not “the hinge on which the immunity analysis turns.” But even if Appel is distinguishable on this ground or others and can somehow be made to say that the consent given in this case was involuntary, we still think that the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate how every reasonable official in Wallace’s shoes would have believed that he was violating the plaintiffs’ rights. A single case, which is not even a binding precedent in the district in which it was decided, seems hardly enough to count as one that establishes a clear legal principle. One swallow does not a summer make.

For these reasons, the plaintiffs have not carried their burden to show that the unconstitutional nature of Wallace’s conduct was clearly established. We therefore reverse and remand for further proceedings.

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