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  • Good Faith?

    Long story short, briefly saw two parties in a car driving excessively fast. Pursuit ensues, they bail into a house, get permission from home over (I know not needed in pursuit) to go in, get two guys I think are the guys in the car. Witness pulls up says he believes they are the right guys, confirm it with him several times....Take them to jail, witness calls later says one of the guys wasn't involved and that he saw the real guy later in the day and realized we had locked up the wrong guy. We take steps to release the parties immediately, the guy who wasn't in the car was furious, claims he is going to sue. Question is, I believe we were acting in good faith seeing how I think I have the right guys and a witness says they are the right guys. When we find out the mistake we don't try to cover it up and take steps to get it taken care of immediately. Obviously I know its not a good situation, do I have anything to worry about?>
    Last edited by WLC135; 07-18-2005, 11:54 PM.

  • #2
    trouble?

    Originally posted by WLC135
    Long story short, briefly saw two parties in a car driving excessively fast. Pursuit ensues, they bail into a house, get permission from home over (I know not needed in pursuit) to go in, get two guys I think are the guys in the car. Witness pulls up says he believes they are the right guys, confirm it with him several times....Take them to jail, witness calls later says one of the guys wasn't involved and that he saw the real guy later in the day and realized we had locked up the wrong guy. We take steps to release the parties immediately, the guy who wasn't in the car was furious, claims he is going to sue. Question is, I believe we were acting in good faith seeing how I think I have the right guys and a witness says they are the right guys. When we find out the mistake we don't try to cover it up and take steps to get it taken care of immediately. Obviously I know its not a good situation, do I have anything to worry about?
    Who knows what (if it comes to that) a jury would believe. As far as the LAW, you acted in good faith with a reliable (at the time) witness. How do you know the witness wasn't threatened into recanting his story? Lots of things can happen to change a story. Any other evidence like in the vehicle to connect the suspect jailed? Even without as an officer you acted in good faith and in my opinion did what any of us would do. I wouldn't talk to anybody about it except the brass or IA and let it die a quiet death. Most people threatening to sue are looking for loose lips and are acting on anger. It will probably pass. If not let the attorneys and brass fight it. You did nothing wrong.
    Last edited by 72na55; 07-18-2005, 09:34 PM. Reason: why

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    • #3
      Originally posted by WLC135
      Long story short, briefly saw two parties in a car driving excessively fast. Pursuit ensues, they bail into a house, get permission from home over (I know not needed in pursuit) to go in, get two guys I think are the guys in the car. Witness pulls up says he believes they are the right guys, confirm it with him several times....Take them to jail, witness calls later says one of the guys wasn't involved and that he saw the real guy later in the day and realized we had locked up the wrong guy. We take steps to release the parties immediately, the guy who wasn't in the car was furious, claims he is going to sue. Question is, I believe we were acting in good faith seeing how I think I have the right guys and a witness says they are the right guys. When we find out the mistake we don't try to cover it up and take steps to get it taken care of immediately. Obviously I know its not a good situation, do I have anything to worry about?
      Sounds like you did the right thing all the way around to me. I would not lose any sleep over this one.

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      • #4
        you had probable cause to make the arrest..form info later you find out it was wrong oh well you did the right thing..I agree no worries.
        Happy to be here proud to serve

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        • #5
          Thanks guys, helping me feel better!!

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          • #6
            Long story short, briefly saw two parties in a car driving excessively fast. Pursuit ensues, they bail into a house, get permission from home over (I know not needed in pursuit) to go in, get two guys I think are the guys in the car. Witness pulls up says he believes they are the right guys, confirm it with him several times....Take them to jail, witness calls later says one of the guys wasn't involved and that he saw the real guy later in the day and realized we had locked up the wrong guy. We take steps to release the parties immediately, the guy who wasn't in the car was furious, claims he is going to sue. Question is, I believe we were acting in good faith seeing how I think I have the right guys and a witness says they are the right guys. When we find out the mistake we don't try to cover it up and take steps to get it taken care of immediately. Obviously I know its not a good situation, do I have anything to worry about?
            "Good faith" has nothing to do with it. The "Good Faith" exception to the exclusionary rule only applies when the 4th amendment violation was accidental, and when the officer took proper steps to avoid the violation. You going into the house was not an accident. Either you had a good entry or you didn't, or you had probable cause for the arrest or you didn't. If fleeing and eluding is a felony in your state, you don't need permission in hot pursuit to enter. If it's NOT a felony, you need permission to enter. What made you think the guys you arrested were the ones in the car? Did you see them very well? Were you basing your probable cause on a vague clothing description? Could you describe their faces?
            Even if you DIDN'T have permission, the arrest would still be valid as long as it wasn't their own residence that they ran into. And even if it WAS their residence, the only thing that would be excluded at trial would be any evidence you seized while in the house. A bad entry doesn't necessarily mean that the arrest was bad. You could have civil trouble, but the case would be OK (assuming you had a case to beging with). I'd sue you if I were them.

            The witnesses that came up after you made the entry have NOTHING to do with the validity of your initial entry or detention. You already entered the house and grabbed the guy before the witness pulled up. Your initial entry and detention is based ONLY on the knowledge you had at that time. The arrest can be based on what the witness said, but not the initial entry and detention.
            Last edited by Frank Booth; 07-18-2005, 11:06 PM.

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            • #7
              We are allowed to force entry in hot pursuit. I was in hot pursuit, however knocked on the door after backup arrived, the homeowners came out and said yes you can go in and search the house. The entry into the house isn't in question, it was the wrong id/arrest of the subject that worried me. I had a brief view of the parties, well enough for me to pick out the parties in the house who looked like the guys in the car and not the other people in the house.

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              • #8
                Just be glad you don't fall into the 9th Circuit.
                If you won't stand behind our troops, PLEASE, feel free to stand in front of them.

                If you won't get an *** whoopin' with me, you're gonna get one from me---stolen

                www.sportbikes.net

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                • #9
                  We are allowed to force entry in hot pursuit.
                  For a misdemeanor? Not saying that fleeing and eluding in your state is a misdemeanor, but you made the blanket statement that you have a right to enter for hot pursuit. I don't think you do if you're chasing for a misdemeanor.

                  As far as your probable cause for the arrrest. You obviously DIDN'T get a good enough look to pick him out if the witness is telling the truth and it wasn't the right guy. That's not a problem if you had a reasonable description. If I was the suing guys lawyer, I'd take this:

                  I had a brief view of the parties, well enough for me to pick out the parties in the house who looked like the guys in the car and not the other people in the house.
                  And say: Well if you saw them well enough to eliminate the other people in the house, and you're saying you reasonably arrested the wrong guys, where did the REAL suspects go? Didn't you search the house, or did you grab the first two guys who fit a "brief view" description and then leave? What do you mean "looked like the guys"? Did they have the same clothes on? Similar clothes? Did you get a look at their faces? Or are you basing your arrest on something as general as a similar height, weight, race, sex and a clothing description that half the males in that age group would probable fit. And if you didn't get it in writing or on tape, don't be too sure that the buddy of the guy who is suing you suddenly forgets that he gave you permission to enter. It's not a big deal getting sued, but imagine how you'd feel if a couple cops barged in on you and dragged you out of your house to jail for nothing at all, assuming you did have the wrong guys to begin with. Would YOU sue the guys who did that to you?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Frank Booth
                    As far as your probable cause for the arrrest. You obviously DIDN'T get a good enough look to pick him out if the witness is telling the truth and it wasn't the right guy. That's not a problem if you had a reasonable description.
                    Permission to enter the home was secured from the owners, so that is a non-issue.

                    Please correct me if I am wrong. The officer obviously had reasonable suspicion to to detain the suspects based not only on the fact they matched the descriptions he was given, but the fact that they attempted to elude the police (Illinois v. Wardlow). After they were detained he investigated further and a positive ID was made by a witness and therefore the subjects were arrested. It sounds like a solid arrest to me.

                    I am not to sure where the Good Faith Exemption comes into play, I thought that dealt with evidence obtained and not arrests.
                    No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency. - Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses (1900)

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                    • #11
                      Please correct me if I am wrong. The officer obviously had reasonable suspicion to to detain the suspects based not only on the fact they matched the descriptions he was given, but the fact that they attempted to elude the police (Illinois v. Wardlow).
                      I'm assuming the detention was OK based on reasonable suspicion, but I don't know what kind of a description the officer was relying on because we never got that far. He said he had a good enough description to eliminate the other people in the house, right? And the guys he was after went into that house, right? And they were presumably there when the officer went into the house, right (they didn't leave out the back window)? Well, if the guys he detained weren't the actual guys he chased, but the actual guys WERE in the house, HOW could he have gotten a good enough look at them to eliminate the rest of the people in the house???? See what I'm getting at? The actual guys who fled were part of the "rest of the people in the house"!! Did the guys they grabbed look more like the real suspects than the real suspects did? UNLESS, they didn't look through the whole house and grabbed the first two guys who looked anything like the guys they were chasing.

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                      • #12
                        The fourth amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizures. Seizures can be made on both property and people. An arrest is a seizure. That is why the good faith exception was mentioned. I.E. he didn't arrest the guy just for kicks, he arrested him because he believed he was the suspect he was looking for.

                        Probable cause: A set of facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime has been committed and the person in question committed it.

                        You had probable cause for the arrest. You followed the subjects into the house and entered with permission that I don't believe you needed. You reasonably believed the suspects were still in the house. You spot two subjects that looked like the suspects and detain them. You get what was at the time 100% identification from witnesses. =Arrest

                        Question, based on the original post, I guess the other POS was one of the suspects you were looking for? Was he willing to shed any light on the situation? Without a positive ID on #2 there is always the posibility that you DID have the right guy and for whatever reason your witness purposely @$#%$ your case.

                        Just because we arrest someone does not guarantee that they are guilty. It means that we have evidence to believe that they are.
                        Last edited by haus409; 07-19-2005, 06:17 PM.
                        "He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still"

                        -Lao Tzu

                        "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

                        -Reinhold Niebuhr

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                        • #13
                          That is why the good faith exception was mentioned. I.E. he didn't arrest the guy just for kicks, he arrested him because he believed he was the suspect he was looking for.
                          The "good faith exception" does not apply in this case. The exception does not mean that you were not acting "maliciously" in your seizure. In order for the exception to apply, you had to make the otherwise unlawful seizure "accidentally" and had to have taken step to avoid it. For instance: You arrest someone on a warrant that turns out to be invalid. You had no reason to know the warrant was invalid because it was still listed in the computer. You took steps to see if the guy had any warrants before you arrested him, ie. you ran him through the computer. The warrant popped up, but it shouldn't have been there in the first place because the guy already took care of it, but someone forgot to take it out, and you arrested him (the accidental part).

                          Your investigatory detention at the house was presumably made based at least on reasonable suspicion. Then when the witness confirmed that was the guy, the arrest was based on probable cause. It was NOT an unlawful seizure, because you had probable cause. The "good faith" exception applies to seizures that were otherwise unconstitutional.

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                          • #14
                            The Good Faith Exemption, so far as I can tell, pertains specifically to the introduction of evidence into a trial that was obtained with a mistakenly issued warrant or a warrant improperly completed by the judge. I do not see how it could be applied to an arrest.

                            In United States v. Leon the Supreme Court held that evidence seized on the basis of a mistakenly issued warrant could be introduced into trial since the police had no reason to suspect that the information they presented to the judge that issued the warrant was not sufficient. For example, a warrant is obtained using evidence from a stake-out and another judge later decides that probable cause did not exist. The evidence obtained by police is still admissible because they thought the warrant was proper.

                            Later in Massachusetts v. Sheppard the Supreme Court ruled that evidence obtained using a warrant that the police believed covered the scope of their investigation was admissible, despite the fact that the warrant did not allow for the search. For example if a the police seek a warrant for weapons and the judge signs one for narcotics. Any weapons found are still admissible because the police believed the warrant was for weapons.
                            No man is justified in doing evil on the grounds of expediency. - Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses (1900)

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                            • #15
                              Don't worry

                              Sounds good to me, the entry, the detention and subsequent arrest. You may lose the case due to a lack of positive ID, make sure you reflect on the incident and obviously make sure the report has sufficient detail. Otherwise, good chase. Be safe.

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