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Do I have a suit against the department

Discussion in 'Constitutional Law & Civil Rights' started by Jeremiah A Halvorson, Mar 17, 2019 at 12:46 AM.

  1. Jeremiah A Halvorson

    Jeremiah A Halvorson Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Back in July I was arrested for terroristic threats. I was at a gas station and on my way out a woman pulled in and almost hit me. I turned around to pull in 2 spots down from her. I went to roll down my window and accidently rolled down back window as I was pulling in. I parked and turn towards the window and noticed the front window was still up so I rolled it down. as I turned my body towards the window I slipped my left arm behind the seat and placed it on my duty belt that was sitting on top of my bullet proof vest which was on my lunch box which was on my backseat. I was holding the belt on the right side. I said to her M "Hi, is there something I can help you with?" H "No, can I help you with something?" M "yeah when you were coming in you almost hit me." H "you were too far over, maybe you should move over more." M "I was already almost on the curb, its a 2 way road. cars come in on the left and go out on the right. when you come in you need to give the cars coming out room by coming in on your side of entrance." H " where does it say that?" M "where does it say what?" H " that its 2 way, if its not posted it isn't that." M " no, it doesn't need to be posted 2 way. that's common sense." H "its not common sense, its called common courtesy." M "that makes no sense, you need to give people room to come out of the parking lot." M "I can call Burnsville and have them come over and explain the law to you." H "go ahead." at this point she got out of her car, and opened the back door. she looked at me nodded towards my back window and said "whats that?" I held up the right side of my duty belt, just high enough that she could see it over the window then put it back down, (I have child safety windows and they are tinted) and said "my duty belt." she responded "what does that mean?" I said " that you're arguing the law with someone that works\\deals with law enforcement everyday." she bent over and starting searching through her backseat on drivers side. she then shuts the door and opens her trunk. IM NOT IN FEAR BUT I AM VERY CURIOUS AND PAYING ATTENTION TO WHY SHES IN THE TRUNK AT A GAS STATION. shes messing around in trunk for a little while and then shuts it. I realize that nothing is going to get solved in this situation by talking and decide that its time to go. I say " have a nice day" and I hear her tell her kid to take a picture of me before I leave. (thids whole time the kid is kinda hanging out the window on his phone with it kinda pointed at me. I couldn't tell if he was playing a game or recording me.) I start to back up and she yells " you don't know who youre messing with!" I responded " yes I do, white trash." she responds back by flicking me off with both fingers and yelling "fuck off!" I pulled out of the lot and went home. About an hour and a half later, I get a call from burnsville police saying I'm under arrest. I asked what I'm being arrested for and was told brandishing a firearm. I told them I didnt brandish a firearm and that I would be right out. I followed there instructions exactly with now incident. The office that did the interview with the woman at the scene also interviewed her son who said he never seen a gun and that he wasnt scared. This information was withheld from the arrest report and the arrest warrant request. Without even speaking to me about what happened the police has a warrant for my arrest and about 15 officers at my house.
    Because of all this I was jailed for 3 days and was suspended unpaid from work for 6 months till the end of my case. If there is anymore info needed please ask. Sorry for being so long
     
  2. Jeremiah A Halvorson

    Jeremiah A Halvorson Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I forgot to mention . The woman told 911 I pulled a gun on her. When the officer showed up to interview her she told him the same thing. Then after I was arrested and in the back of the squad at my house, the officer went for a more detailed narrative. During this, he was informed by her that I never pointed a gun at her or even took my gun out, but that I just had it in my holster on my duty belt in the back seat. I was still arrested and charged but was found not guilty by a jury
     
  3. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Active Member

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    Although you didn't say it directly, I assume that you did show her the gun, although you didn't point it at her. That may well have caused her some degree of fear. In any event, she told the police you did pull the gun on her and that prompted the the initial arrest. That would certainly be enough for probable cause for the arrest. After the arrest, it is the prosecutor that decides what charges to bring, if any. Again, the standard for that is probable cause. Probable cause is not a very high standard. The much higher standard of beyond a reasonable doubt applies at trial. Under that standard, the jury acquitted you. The acquittal doesn't mean the police did anything wrong. It does not mean there wasn't probable cause. If you want to see if there is any potential for a lawsuit against the police you need to see a lawyer who litigates civil rights violation cases. Perhaps with all the facts of the matter presented to the lawyer there might be something worth pursuing. Just from what you have said here, however, there isn't any obvious claim to make against the police out of this.

    It is my experience that confronting other drivers about their driving is not a wise thing to do. That's the sort of thing that leads to road rage incidents. Either you or the other person, if ticked off, may end up doing something that causes you or him/her serious legal trouble and might leave one of you injured or dead. Indeed, your experience illustrates one way that occurs. She didn't hit your car. You were apparently a bit ticked off by that. You confronted her and the end result was that you ended up in jail for a few days and had to defend against criminal charges. But as no harm was done to you when she pulled in and missed your car, the better thing to do would have been to simply let it go and move on. There was really nothing to be gained from that conversation.

    And if you have gun, bullet proof vest, or other items associated with firearms, displaying those to the other person can provoke wildly different reactions, a lot of them not good. While you may think that doing that will get them to back down or make them think you aren't someone to mess with, it may also either lead to them calling the police (as the woman did here) or cause them to escalate the situation, making it more dangerous.

    That's just a little food for thought for the next time that a driver ticks you off.
     
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  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I've got nothing for you, buddy.
    You made your bed.
    If you have a lawyer, you should be talking ONLY to your lawyer.
    You've illustrated precisely why lawyers tell clients NOT to talk.
    You've laid out a prima facie case of brandishing, perhaps terrorism.

    I doubt seriously that you'll ever work as an armed security guard, be allowed to own firearms, or be a sworn LEO.

    I wish you well.
     
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  5. hrforme

    hrforme Active Member

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    I have to agree with the other two..... If you truly are in law enforcement, you should have known better that to get into an altercation over something so very minor. And yes, I suspect the child was taping the whole interaction.
     
  6. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    No.... According to the information you have provided there is no reasonable action for you to take against the arresting agency.
    Nothing you said here indicates anything improper was done. In fact, most of what you said is completely irrelevant.
     
  7. Jeremiah A Halvorson

    Jeremiah A Halvorson Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Ok so No I did not present my gun to her. No it is not brandishing (Minnesota law qualifies brandishing as removing and pointing a firearm at a person) yes I am already working federal armed security again. From what I can tell from most of the answers here so far, is that I came to a place where random joe likes to comment without any legal reasoning behind it. I have talked to multiple former and ex cops and all have said that the situation was handled improperly. The woman herself informed the officer that I never presented a firearm at all. As far as everything being irrelevant, 1st problem is knowing there was no firearm presented and continuing with arrest when at that point there is no PC. 2nd problem is an officer withholding evidence in my favor from both the arrest warrant and arrest report. Exculpatory evidence. Is there any one that has an education in law that can give an answer
     
  8. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Active Member

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    Whether the cops followed department policy might be an issue, but the cop failing to follow policy does not create any legal cause of action for you. The question is whether the cops had probable cause to make the arrest. Probable cause is not a terribly high standard and what he woman told the cops could itself be sufficient. There is nothing in the Constitution that mandates the cops do a thorough investigation before making the arrest, although of course that might be the better thing for them to do. Apparently the prosecutor thought there was probable cause, too, or the prosecutor would not have filed the charges against you. You (or your lawyer, if you had one) could have challenged the probable in a hearing before trial if thought the cops lacked the probable cause necessary for the arrest. If you did that and the court held there was probable cause then that pretty much answers the question of whether the cops violated your rights.

    It is the obligation of the prosecutor to turn over any exculpatory evidence to you or your lawyer before trial. You'd have a remedy for that if it was not done and you'd gotten convicted as a result. But you were acquitted so that extra evidence would not have changed the outcome of the trial.

    The arrest warrant application by the officer has to provide the relevant facts on which the court can decide whether there was probable cause. Whether the evidence you say the cop left out would have made any difference is impossible for me to say since I've not seen the application nor what information you say was left out. But remember, the arrest warrant decision is not where the court decides whether you might be guilty. So if there is information there that supports probable cause the court will issue the warrant even if there is conflicting information that might point to you being innocent. It is up to the jury to sort out the various evidence and decide what to believe.

    Ultimately if you want a good opinion on whether you have anything for which you could sue you need to see an attorney who litigates civil rights cases and have/her review all the available information. Most will give you a free initial consultation so you have nothing to lose but a bit of your time.
     
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  9. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    I haven't looked at the MN statute but would be surprised if pointing the weapon is a required element. Usually brandishing only requires some threatening display of the weapon, which could be something as simple as lifting a shirt to reveal a concealed firearm in its holster.
    Since you were acquitted, this detail really doesn't matter now.

    Their opinions of what may be improper does not mean anything illegal occurred. You have offered no information indicating the police acted unlawfully. In fact, by first obtaining a warrant they are pretty well covered in the matter.

    According to what you wrote, this information was provided after a warrant was obtained, and after you had already been arrested.

    The police did not KNOW a brandishing did or did not occur. They apparently did have probable cause to believe it happened, and so did the judge who authorized the warrant. Again, you apparently had already been arrested before the woman went back on her statement. The details get sorted out in court.

    Again, from what you provided here, the additional information you think should have been included in the warrant was obtained after you had already been arrested on the warrant. That doesn't make much sense.
    If the information was not included in the police reports, how do you have the information now? Did it come out in testimony? What matters is that the information did come out. Unless you can prove the police knowingly withheld information with intent to cause you harm you really have nothing to work with.

    If anything, you may have a complaint against the woman who reported you if you can show she deliberately lied, but even that can be hard to prove. If there was anything to work with I suspect it would have already been dealt with.

    You might wish to make a formal complaint to the department about how things were handled, but I don't see that you have any footing for a successful lawsuit. Perhaps if you visit a local attorney who can peruse the facts you might get a better outlook, but the details you provided here simply do not support it.
     
  10. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    You decided to confront a woman with her child in tow over a complete non-incident and purposely tried to intimidate here for what? So you could feel superior? There was zero reason to mention her not hitting your car. Or that you work with law enforcement. Or showing off your duty belt/weapon. Or trying to "school" her on the law/common courtesy. Or calling her white trash.

    I can't imagine what you were trying to accomplish otherwise. She didn't break any laws and didn't hit your car so there was nothing to apologize for. There was literally nothing she could do at that point as there was no damage to either vehicle and the other driver is not responsible for your reaction to the non-event. Confronting her was clearly a mistake even if you were acquitted of any criminal charges. Instead of looking at this and seeing how you were in the wrong and could and should have avoided the whole situation, you seem to want to put the blame with everyone else. If you can't see how confronting a stranger out of the blue while making it clear you have a gun and bullet proof vest is threatening and bullying behavior, expect to find yourself in this same spot again in the future, possibly with less favorable results.
     
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