Articles Posted in Constitution – Bill of Rights

Published on:

A man named Robert Lawrence was shot by a police officer in front of his wife and children after an incident that began when took a stray dog to the animal shelter in Dothan, Alabama. Lawrence and his family found a stray dog in a Walmart parking lot and decided to take the dog to the shelter. When he arrived there with the dog, he was asked to show some identification and to fill out some paperwork before leaving the dog. He felt that he should not have to do that and out of frustration he told the official he would leave and just let the dog out along the road leading to the shelter.

When people who are at the shelter threaten to abandon an animal, their policy is to have a police officer follow them to their vehicle to write down their tag number. That happened when Lawrence left the shelter. The police officer asked for his driver’s license when he arrive at his car, and he told her he did not have to show her one.   The officer called for a backup officer and detained Lawrence at his car where they argued while waiting for the backup.

Continue reading

Published on:

Stryker filed a federal lawsuit against three officers of the Homewood Alabama Police Department for excessive force in violation of the Constitution and for state law claims for assault and battery. The incident resulted from his arrest for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and failing to comply with a lawful order of a city officer. Stryker was a commercial truck driver. After he who arrived at Walmart Store at 2:00 a.m. with his delivery, he was approached by a Homewood Police Officer who told Stryker a woman called the police accusing Stryker of hitting her car on the highway.

Stryker’s version of what happened next was drastically different from the police officer’s version. Under Stryker’s version, he took out a camera to take photographs of the woman’s car, something his company required him to do in the event of an accident. The defendant officer told him not to take photos and to put away the camera. As went to return to his truck, without warning the officer tased him and kicked him when he fell to the ground. As he tried to get away the officer struck him multiple times in the face breaking his jaw. Stryker managed to get into the cab of his truck but the officer broke into the cab, and with other officers that had arrived, they removed him and continued to beat and kick him.

Continue reading

Published on:

Toddrey Bruce appealed his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Bruce was arrested when he was found in the possession of a firearm which was illegal under federal law for him to possess. In this appeal he claimed the trial court erred by not granting his motion to suppress the evidence of his gun possession because the seizure was a violation of the Fourth Amendment violation. Here are the facts leading to his seizure and arrest.

A 911 call came to the police at 3:00 a.m. by an anonymous person about a disturbance in the front yard of a “drug house” and that one of the men involved had a gun. He told the 911 operator that while he was speaking to the operator, they we were arguing and the person holding the gun he described as a black man standing next to a white car in front of the house. The tipster warned that the police should use caution because there might me shooting any minute. The dispatcher quickly related key parts of the call to the police and several officers who were nearby arrived on the scene with flashing police lights. The approaching officers saw two men in the white car at the address given by the tipster and for officer safety they drew their guns as they approached the car. The police approached Bruce while he was sitting in parked in front of a house. When the police approached the car, they told the men to exit the car, and Bruce tried to make a break for it. When one of the officers grabbed him, a semi-automatic pistol dropped from his waistband.

Continue reading

Published on:

Plaintiff James Tracy held a tenured position at the School of Communication as Florida Atlantic University (F.A.U.) when he ran a personal online blog called the “Memory Hole Blog” which began attracting news media attention for publicly questioning whether the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut had in fact occurred. The University did not ask Tracy to stop blogging but did request that he post an adequate disclaimer on his blog and that he report his blog as an outside activity. Both were required under the faculty’s collective bargaining agreement. Tracy did post a disclaimer by he refused to report his blog arguing that the blog did not qualify as a reportable outside activity under the definition of a “conflict of interest/outside activity. After he ignored two years of repeated requests to submit outside activity reports, F.A.U. fired him for insubordination.

Continue reading

Published on:

Nikola Cruz shot and killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. Fifteen students who were bystanders suffered traumatic harm and psychological injuries from the shooting. In their lawsuit against Broward County, Robert Runcie, Scot Peterson, the students allege that the Parkland tragedy was exacerbated by government blunders before and after the shooting because Broward County Sheriff’s Office failed to act on the many dozens of calls it received that warned of Cruz’s dangerous propensities. Sheriff Scott Israel and Superintendent Runcie knew that Cruz might be dangerous, and Runcie was warned that the school had inadequate security, but neither official attempted to improve it. After Cruz started shooting, Scot Peterson, the police officer in charge of school security, stood outside the school with three other officers and did not enter or attempt to stop the shooting.

They claimed that the failure of Broward County and the officials to protect the students violated their rights to substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court dismissed the claims, and the students took this appeal.

Continue reading

Published on:

Latecia Watkins was a supervisor at the Boca Raton, Florida, Post Office when she was arrested on for importing more than five kilograms of cocaine into the United States. Here is how it unfolded.

Two packages from Trinidad and Tobago addressed to the Boca Raton Post Office were intercepted at the international mail facility and found to contain cocaine. Law enforcement agents removed the drugs and placed a GPS tracking device with sham cocaine into the packages and put both packages into the mail stream headed to the original destinations.

The agents monitored the GPS and the Post Office’s internal tracking system. They set up surveillance of the Boca Raton Post Office the morning of August 11, 2017 when they expected the packages to be delivered. The GPS device stopped working but they were able to track the packages by the Post Office tracking system. They began to realize some strange occurrences because one of the packages addressed to a Boca Raton post office which did not have a P.O. box number was accepted without the number. Normally a package could not be received unless the addressee had a rented a post office box. The agents then suspected an inside job and the suspect was most likely a supervisor and not just an employee because a postal employee would not have access to certain aspects of the scanning system to manipulate the tracking history of the package.

Continue reading

Published on:

Bobal was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of using a means of interstate commerce to attempt to persuade a minor to engage in sexual activity in violation of 8 U.S.C. sec. 2422(b) and committing a felony offense involving a minor after being required to register as a sex offender in violation of 18 U.S.C. sec. 2260A. Bobal had a prior conviction in Florida for using a computer to solicit a child to engage in sexual activity. His trouble began when he sent a picture of his penis to a man posing as a 14-year old girl. The F.B.I. got involved and an agent posing as the 14-year-old girl began exchanging text messages with Bobal which were sexual in nature and eventually arranged a meeting. When Bobal arrived at the meeting location he was arrested.

Continue reading

Published on:

Ricky Hinkle died in a Birmingham City jail after being shocked twice with a taser and his son Hunter filed federal civil rights lawsuit against Deputy Dukuzumuremyi under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for a violation of Hinkle’s constitutional right to be free from excessive force. Hunter also claimed that Sheriff Hale and Captain Eddings were liable as supervisors for the deliberate indifference for policy or custom implemented by the officers. The officers moved to dismiss on grounds of qualified immunity and the district court denied their motions, and they took this appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. Dukuzumuremyi’s qualified immunity claim was rejected but the court found no supervisory liability by the Sheriff and the Captain.

This is how the facts unfolded. Hinkle was arrested while “visibly intoxicated” and taken to jail where he began suffering from alcohol-withdrawal symptoms and exhibited delusional behavior. When officers found him in the corner of his cell wearing only underpants and shoes telling them he wanted to die, they decided to move him to a padded cell. As they walked him toward the cell and asked him to remove his shoes, he began running down the hallway and grabbed a shower curtain. As the officers attempted to pull Hinkle into the new cell Dukuzumuremyi fired his taser hitting Hinkle on the left side of his chest. As a result of the shock Hinkle fell to the floor and urinated on himself. Dukuzumuremyi ordered Hinkle to roll over to be handcuffed by Hinkle remained unresponsive. Dukuzumuremyi tased him again on the front left side of his neck eight second after the first shock. During that time Hinkle remained motionless on the ground. Shortly after the second shock Hinkle went into cardiac arrest and was later pronounce dead in the hospital.

Continue reading

Published on:

Dismissal of inmate’s Eighth Amendment claim was incorrect

Sears filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights lawsuit for excessive force and deliberate indifference as a result of a physical assault and having been pepper sprayed after he was handcuffed and compliant. This incident happened while he was an inmate in Polk Correctional institution in Polk City, Florida. The district court ruled in favor of the correctional officers based on the Eleventh Circuit’s precedence in O’Bryant v Finch. The court of appeals reversed because it found the district court misread that decision and misapplied it by crediting the defendants’ version of the events over the Sears’ sworn allegations.

Sears had a dispute with another guard and tried to see the captain to lodge a complaint. The guard with whom he had the dispute told two other guards, the defendant, who tried to place him in handcuffs. When he resisted, he was forced to the ground and handcuffed. While he was restrained one of the defendants began punching him on his body while the other choked him. through it all a third defendant kept spraying him in the face with the chemical agent. They continued beating him. Sears estimated the entire physical altercation lasted about 16 minutes.

Continue reading

Published on:

In U.S. v. Johnson the Eleventh Circuit court of appeals reversed a panel decision which held that an officer conducted an unconstitutional search and seizure when he removed a round of ammunition from the defendant’s pocket after conducting a pat down of the defendant who was a burglary suspect. The en banc court decided that the seizure of the ammunition was a constitutional search under Terry v. Ohio. The facts show the Opa-Locka, Florida, Police Department received a 911 call about a potential burglary in progress at a multifamily duplex. Behind the duplex was a fence that separated the duplex from the adjacent property. The 911 caller described a black male wearing a white shirt trying to get through the window of a neighbor’s house.

Soon after officers arrived, the defendant was seen coming from the back of the complex through an alley. He fit the description of a black male wearing a white shirt. He was ordered to the ground and handcuffed and detained until they could figure things out. Because of the nature of the call and the high crime nature of the area, the officer conducted a pat down of Mr. Johnson for officer safety. The officer felt a nylon piece of material and then underneath it he felt a hard-like, oval-shaped object which led him to believe it was ammunition. He removed it thinking that there might be a weapon nearby or another person in the apartment that may come out with “something.” It was a black nylon pistol holster and one round of .380 caliber ammunition.

Continue reading

Contact Information