The Mercury News is reporting that The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allows a lawsuit to proceed. A former California resident filed suit against the city of San Carlos and two police officers. The officers had appealed the filing as having no basis to proceed against them as officers.
In 2003, the resident, Bruce Hopkins, was involved in a traffic accident. It was a low impact accident and he apparently just left the scene without stopping. According to the factual account, the other driver followed Mr Hopkins to his residence and called the police.
When the officers arrived, they knocked on a screen door but got no answer. They then cut through the screen and entered the house with their guns drawn. According to the officers, as listed in court documents, they entered the home “because they had been trained that what a layperson might describe as an odor of alcohol (according to the other driver) might be a ‘fruity smell associated with a diabetic emergency. The officers found Hopkins on the floor of his bedroom and handcuffed and arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, after he failed a Breathalyzer test. No mention as to whether the officers tested his blood sugar.
County prosecutors dropped all charges after Hopkins’ attorney had filed a motion to suppress the evidence as illegally received, after they had entered the residence to “rescue” Mr Hopkins. Then, Mr Hopkins filed a civil rights action against the officers. Based on the Supreme Courts’ ruling, a trial in the case is expected to be scheduled in the next few months.
The officers have left the police department and are working as officers in other cities. I wonder if they think that it would be ok to break into an ice cream store and take the ice cream, to make sure it doesn’t all melt. Just a thought.