CA8 again grants QI to stopping innocent persons at gunpoint

The Eighth Circuit again holds that stopping innocent persons at gunpoint with almost any reason at all almost always results in qualified immunity for the officer. Irvin v. Richardson, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 37110 (8th Cir. Dec. 16, 2021):

Here, the officers were investigating a disturbance involving a handgun. Although neither officer observed Bates or Irvin with a gun, they “lacked the personal knowledge to rule out [Irvin and Bates] as suspects.” Pollreis, 9 F.4th at 748. Nor did the officers “point a gun at a compliant suspect for an unreasonably long period of time after [they had] taken control of the situation.” Id. at 747. Though Irvin and Bates acknowledged Officer Richardson’s initial command to “Stop,” they continued walking away despite repeated commands to stop. They finally stopped but did not immediately comply with a command to “Get on the ground now.” Their actions did not negate the risk that one or both might be armed and dangerous. In response to this refusal to cooperate with a lawful directive to stop and to answer reasonable questions, Officer Richardson and then Officer Jupin drew their guns, pointed them in Irvin and Bates’s direction, and then handcuffed the two when they finally lay on the ground. Although Irvin acted calmly throughout the stop, Bates was agitated and argumentative. In these circumstances, the force used by the officers did not turn the lawful Terry stop into an arrest. See Smith, 645 F.3d at 1002-03; Fisher, 364 F.3d at 973-74; United States v. Raino, 980 F.2d 1148, 1149-50 (8th Cir. 1992), cert. denied, 507 U.S. 1011 (1993).

Irvin and Bates further argue that the officers turned the Terry stop into an arrest by extending the detention for an unreasonably long time. We disagree. In assessing this issue, the Supreme Court “examine[s] whether the police diligently pursued a means of investigation that was likely to confirm or dispel their suspicions quickly, during which time it was necessary to detain the [suspects].” United States v. Sharpe, 470 U.S. 675, 686 (1985). “[A] suspect’s actions may contribute to the added delay about which he complains.” Id. at 688. “There is no bright line rule.” United States v. Morgan, 729 F.3d 1086, 1090 (8th Cir. 2013).

Pollreis cited is posted here and discussed the same day as Irvin in Reason: Cops Held Two Innocent Boys at Gunpoint, Forced Them to Lie on the Ground, Handcuffed Them, and Searched Them. That’s Fine, the 8th Circuit Said. by Jacob Sullum

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