Circumstances of Stop and Frisk Get Immunity for Officer

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By Bernie Pazanowski

A police officer is entitled to immunity in a civil rights suit stemming from a stop and frisk while investigating a suspicious person complaint outside a store that previously had been robbed, an appeals court held ( Green v. Newport , 2017 BL 293946, 7th Cir., No. 16-1536, 8/22/17 ).

Looking at all of the circumstances, the opinion by Judge William J. Bauer of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found Aug. 22 that police had constitutionally justifiable reasons to stop and then search the man, who indeed was armed.

Officer Jonathon Newport received a dispatch that a suspicious car was casing an auto parts store in Milwaukee. Newport knew that an armed robbery occurred at the store recently.

When he arrived, Newport saw the car, a Mercury Grand Marquis, parked next to a Chevrolet Malibu. The driver of the Marquis was allegedly leaning into the Malibu. Newport told both men to put up their hands.

The Malibu’s driver, Davin Green, only put up one hand. When Newport pulled the other hand up, he found a gun in his waistband.

Suit Filed

Green sued, claiming an unreasonable search and seizure. The district court said Newport wasn’t entitled to qualified immunity, or immunity from civil damages as a public official.

But Green didn’t show the right at issue was clearly established at the time he was arrested, the appeals court said.

Police may conduct a stop as part of an investigation when they have reasonable suspicion a crime is afoot, the court said. Based on the facts, Newport had enough information that criminal conduct was afoot and he is entitled to qualified immunity, it said.

Judges Michael S. Kanne and Gary S. Feinerman, sitting by designation, joined the opinion.

Peterson Johnson & Murray SC represented Green. Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office represented Newport.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bna.com

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