Post details: CA11: Fourth Amendment protects arrestees against gratuitous uses of force

03/29/13

Permalink 09:34:25 am, by fourth, 351 words, 830 views   English (US)
Categories: General

CA11: Fourth Amendment protects arrestees against gratuitous uses of force

The district court properly denied summary judgment on qualified immunity that officers were at best negligent in running his head into a door while carrying him into the jail while he was in a hobble restraint. The Fourth Amendment protects against gratuitous uses of force against arrestees. Here, it was all on videotape. Runge v. Snow, 514 Fed. Appx. 891 (11th Cir. 2013):

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... Here, we agree with the district court that, construing the facts as we must in favor of Runge, the evidence establishes that both Officers Snow and Pratico used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Although it is undisputed that Officer Snow had probable cause to arrest Runge, this fact alone is not dispositive for Fourth Amendment purposes. See Lee, 284 F.3d at 1198. The alleged crimes were not relatively severe, and Runge at all relevant times was either in handcuffs or in a full hobble restraint device. Runge posed very little, if any, immediate threat to the safety of the officers at the jail. Additionally, Runge posed very little, if any, flight risk as there were at least two officers in the vicinity of Runge at all relevant times. Despite these facts, and viewing the record again in light most favorable to Runge, at least one officer intentionally led Runge's head into a metal door. As noted above, Officer Snow was located near Runge's head, holding him up at his left arm, while Officer Pratico was holding up Runge's feet as they hit the door with Runge's head.

Appellants argue that Runge's head hitting the metal intake door was an accident and was at most negligent. They argue that videos of the incident support that this was an accident and that there was no constitutional deprivation. We disagree. A reasonable juror, after viewing the incident from the various camera angles and the events immediately preceding and following, could find that one or both of the Appellants intentionally led Runge's head into the jail intake door. As we have held on numerous occasions, the gratuitous use of force when a criminal suspect is restrained and not resisting arrest constitutes excessive force.

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