CA6: Seizing ptf out of her home for a psych eval without PC stated claim and overcame QI

Plaintiff stated a claim that she was unreasonably seized in her home without probable cause or a warrant for a psych evaluation. Qualified immunity denied. Rudolph v. Atkinson, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 28477 (6th Cir. Sept. 20, 2019)*:

Without any further evidence at the scene of the wellness check or inquiry into whether Rudolph tried to harm herself, the officers therefore lacked probable cause to execute this mental-health seizure. It is undoubtedly dangerous for a person to clean her gun while drinking an excessive amount of alcohol, and if Rudolph had been doing that when the officers arrived, then they would have probable cause to believe that Rudolph was a danger to herself. But everyone in this case was concerned only about the gun, which had been taken away from Rudolph. Once the danger—i.e., the gun—was removed from the equation, there was no longer an unacceptable risk of Rudolph harming herself. Unless, of course, she exhibited suicidal behavior. But without the gun, what is left to support probable cause at the scene of the wellness check that Rudolph was suicidal? Based on this record and in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, we do not see much of anything.

. . .

Finally, the officers were under no legal duty to intervene, DeShaney v. Winnebago Cty. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 489 U.S. 189, 196-97, 109 S. Ct. 998, 103 L. Ed. 2d 249 (1989), though the law surrounding mental-health seizures encourages them to do so. Once officers decide to intervene, however, certain constitutional requirements kick in—in this case, the officers needed probable cause to believe a person was suicidal. Although qualified immunity grants officers leeway for mistakes on probable-cause determinations, based on the facts of this case, the probable-cause question is better left to the jury.

This entry was posted in Community caretaking function, Qualified immunity. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.