Cops Lose Qualified Immunity After Arresting Man For A Snarky Facebook Comment

from the no-time-for-facts!-move-move-move! dept

Three cops have just had their qualified immunity stripped by an appeals court for turning an innocuous, snarky Facebook comment into an arrest. It wasn't all the officers' fault. A "helpful" citizen playing internet telephone forwarded the comment to someone who happened to be married to a police officer and everything went from bad to worse to unconstitutional from there.

Here's how the whole thing started, as related by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals decision [PDF]:

On January 25, 2015, James Ross was a 20-year-old resident of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and an active user of the social media website, Facebook. Facebook allows users to connect with each other by establishing “friend” relationships and posting items to a personal feed that can be viewed by the user’s friends. That evening, one of Ross’s Facebook friends posted an image (or meme) that showed a number of different firearms below the title “Why I need a gun.” Above each type of gun was an explanation of what the gun could be used for—e.g., above a shotgun: “This one for burglars & home invasions”; above a rifle with a scope: “This one for putting food on the table”; and above an assault rifle: “This one for self-defense against enemies foreign & domestic, for preservation of freedom & liberty, and to prevent government atrocities.” Ross interpreted this post as advocating against gun control measures. Ross, an advocate in favor of gun control measures, commented on the post: “Which one do I need to shoot up a kindergarten?” Ross then logged off Facebook and went to bed.

This post -- along with Ross' response -- was deleted shortly thereafter by the original poster. But another user forwarded a screenshot of the post and comment to a cousin of the poster. The court notes "no annotation or additional commentary" accompanied the forwarded screenshot. The cousin receiving the screenshot was married to Officer Ryan Medlin of the Jackson Police Department.

Medlin then forwarded the screenshot to two other cops and they all decided to find Ross and arrest him when they started their next shift. This was handled as badly as possible by all three officers. Ross was approached at work by a plainclothes officer presenting himself as a customer. When he stepped out from behind the counter to speak to this person, he was arrested.

Ross attempted to explain himself but was instead read his Miranda rights and taken to the station. There, he wrote a statement explaining his snarky response to the Facebook post. This should have ended everything. Even the cops felt they had nothing to pin on Ross. Nevertheless…

According to Ross, several officers at the station told him they did not think the case was likely to go any further than the prosecuting attorney’s office. However, Ross was not allowed to leave. He was held at the Jackson Police Station until the next day, during which time he was served with a warrant for “Peace Disturbance.” The next day, he was transferred to the Cape Girardeau County Jail where he was held for another two to three days, until he bonded out by paying $1000 in cash. At some point during that period, Ross was formally charged with the class B misdemeanor of “Peace Disturbance” under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 574.010(1)(c) (2015).

This charge was dropped and Ross sued the officers. The district court granted the three officers qualified immunity, theorizing Ross' right not to be arrested on bullshit charges following zero investigative effort prompted by a Facebook screenshot was not "clearly established."

The Appeals Court disagrees

The officers were justified in their efforts to investigate Ross’s post. In current times and in light of current events, the statement demonstrated, at a minimum, questionable judgment. But the state statute at issue does not apply to any speech that is not a “true threat,” and—under Missouri precedent—a reasonable officer would have understood that.

[...]

[I]f any further investigation had led the officers to believe there was an immediate or imminent danger, they would have been justified in acting on that information. Here, however, no exigent circumstances prevented the officers from gathering additional information before making an arrest.

There was no reason to bypass this step just to effectuate an arrest of someone whose post didn't fit the state law definition of a "true threat." But that's how these three do-gooders chose to handle it. Apparently, investigative efforts just gum up the wheels of justice.

In this case, even a “minimal further investigation” would have revealed that Ross’s post was not a true threat. See Pulaski, 306 F.3d at 623. The officers conducted no investigation into the context of the statement, Ross’s history of violence, or Ross’s political beliefs about gun ownership or gun control measures.

[...]

In sum, it is beyond debate that—had the officers engaged in minimal further investigation—the only reasonable conclusion was that Ross had not violated § 574.115.1(3).

This unconstitutional situation was further aggravated by the officers refusing to listen to anything Ross had to say until they had booked him and then deciding -- after coming to the conclusion charges likely wouldn't be pursued by the DA -- to charge him anyway and keep him locked up until he made bail.

No one's arguing law enforcement would have been wrong to engage in an investigation. What's being stated here is exactly the opposite: that it's wrong to arrest, book, and charge someone without engaging in any investigation at all in circumstances like these. And that was definitely clearly established long before these cops decided to get themselves sued.


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 3:36am

    out_of_the_blue's not going to like this, is he?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 4:11am

      Re:

      Would you be so kind as to stop spamming that comment into (apparently) every single article which so much as mentions a subject which that poster might be expected to object to?

      It doesn't add anything to the discussion, and at *best* it's an attempt to wind him up - and not even a particularly effective one, as he rarely if ever even responds to it, as far as I've seen.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 4:56am

        HA HA! Even PIRATES are stepping up to defend me!

        Where will your cop-hating Cushing be, Masnick, when even your zombie accounts shun you? HA, I say! A pox on your attempts to challenge authority and copyright! You loopy loop person!

        Dotcom, Voksi -- soon the police will be coming for YOU, Masnick. And I'll be laughing!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 7:50am

          How’s your John Steele defence fund going brah?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Bergman (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:03am

          Re: HA HA! Even PIRATES are stepping up to defend me!

          If that happens, Masnick will be laughing too. After all, he'd be able to sue the cops just like Ross. Laughing all the way to the bank.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            ECA (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:13am

            Re: Re: HA HA! Even PIRATES are stepping up to defend me!

            including suing the person who SENT the police to his home..
            And with the Illogical posts ONSITE, he has lots of other proof.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 9:05am

            *sigh*

            I was hoping no one would respond to him (feeding the trolls never helps), and that if anyone did, they would at least have the courtesy to delete or replace the Subject line...

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Thad, 30 Jul 2018 @ 10:00am

              Re:

              I used to replace the unhinged, rambling subject lines with random song lyrics, but eventually decided I was better off writing a script to replace every subject line over 50 characters with "tl;dr".

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 30 Jul 2018 @ 4:00am

    Just following government rationale...

    If we can put a man on the moon, clearly we can put a man in jail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Darkhog, 30 Jul 2018 @ 4:05am

    Sometimes I wonder, why there is a "stupid American" stereotype

    And then I read article like this one and I wonder no more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 30 Jul 2018 @ 4:20am

      Re: Sometimes I wonder, why there is a "stupid American" stereotype

      Well, not every Internet troll has an English language degree from Moscow university to fall back on. Some need a job in the U.S. to make ends meet, one matching their talents and education.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 4:36am

    "We in the police don't make mistakes. EVER."

    This unconstitutional situation was further aggravated by the officers refusing to listen to anything Ross had to say until they had booked him and then deciding -- after coming to the conclusion charges likely wouldn't be pursued by the DA -- to charge him anyway and keep him locked up until he made bail.

    So in short they jumped at the chance to make an arrest and look like Big Damn Heroes, and then after realizing that they had nothing rather than back down and admit to having screwed up they doubled-down and decided to punish him for their screw-up by charging him and keeping him in jail.

    Medlin then forwarded the screenshot to two other cops and they all decided to find Ross and arrest him when they started their next shift.

    I feel it's also worth pointing out their timing, and what they did and more importantly didn't do. They thought he was enough of a threat to arrest him, but not enough of a threat to get someone else to do it as soon as they were 'alerted'. Oh no, clearly nothing else would do but to get together and do it themselves.

    With their qualified immunity striped hopefully the victim can go after their personal bank-accounts. It won't undo the damage that's been done to him, but it would give them a reason to think about what they do before they do it in the future.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 6:21am

      Re: "We in the police don't make mistakes. EVER."

      That. Maybe when this starts to become common and hurt bad cops eough the trend will shift. Then there won't be any damages to 'undo' or relief.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ed (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 7:47am

      Re: "We in the police don't make mistakes. EVER."

      One of the biggest problems is that when LEOs are held accountable (which is rare), it is the taxpayers who pay the price of the LEO's actions. This needs to stop. Hold the LEOs personally responsible. Seize their pensions! Seize their homes! Take everything they have and maybe, just maybe, other LEOs will finally get the message that they, themselves, are NOT above the law. Until this happens, I stand by my belief that one should never, EVER, trust a LEO.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Oblate (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 12:08pm

      Re: "We in the police don't make mistakes. EVER."

      I get the impression (i.e. not doing actual research, now that the precedent has been set) that the cops realized they screwed up and decided to (over) charge him with something so they could reduce it to a misdemeanor plea. I think a plea deal would have left him unable to proceed with a civil rights case.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 4:47am

    If this was a blotter of bad police behavior there would be interest but this is advertised as being Techdirs ie bad teck things. Just how does this fit into a technical paradigm?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 4:56am

      Re:

      Did you miss the part where the “investigation” started because of a Facebook post?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 5:36am

      Re:

      It's obvious isn't it? It's yet another example of how nefarious the magic coding employed by TD is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 5:52am

      Re:

      "Just how does this fit into a technical paradigm?"

      It's literally in the headline of the article that you're whining about. I mean, you can always tell when you guys can't defend authoritarian tactics because you start complaining that articles don't fit a version of the site that only exists in your head. But, even so, you usually make it past the headlines.

      "being Techdirs ie bad teck things"

      Maybe you're just illiterate and that's why you're unable to read correctly.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 7:52am

      Re:

      Well you almost tried *sad trombone*

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 30 Jul 2018 @ 4:53am

    At least they didn't shoot him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Advocate (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 5:02am

      Re:

      ...yet

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 5:35am

      Re:

      The fact that that was a very real possibility rather than a 'funny because it wold never happen' joke is a sad testament to how low the police have fallen.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeDetroit (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 7:38am

        Re: Re:

        I've rarely disagreed with TOG but.... "how low the police have fallen"? They've not fallen as the implies they used to be "better". Everyone carrying around a video recorder all the time has only shined a much needed light on law enforcement. Where I grew up, police brutality was common & they would do it right in front of a crowd, with many other officers watching or even helping. They would dare you to try to do something to stop it. File a complaint would mean getting stopped & harassed by every cop in the precinct for weeks. & the complaint would go nowhere.

        Just as with any profession, there is a bell shaped curve, the very good, the large portion of average, then the bad. Unfortunately this profession has very well armed individuals that have the power to ruin lives & take lives. The "bad cops" have been around for as long as there's been law enforcement.

        If anything, in my own opinion, the police are currently on a improvement swing rather than "falling". They have to be. We are all watching. Maybe the cult of protection of their fellow officers will crack & they will start to police themselves.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Christenson, 30 Jul 2018 @ 1:50pm

          Re: Re: Re: Police Improving?? Maybe....

          But I have to admit, that, as with rape statistics, all the numbers I know of are nearly useless due to frequency of reporting problems and changes of atmosphere, as in #metoo. But there are some rays of hope:

          Some datapoints "in the news":
          Minneapolis Chief of Police says he heard stuff he shouldn't in the report on the ketamine to prisoners scandal.
          Chicago PD signs another consent decree. (of course FOP thinks its a waste)
          Miami PD arrests rookie deputy after she kicks pregnant woman in the stomach.
          And in texas, two off-duty officers jump a guy leaving a bar. They are at least charged.
          Philadelphia mayor terminates data sharing with ICE, which has been abusing it to terrorize immigrants.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 31 Jul 2018 @ 3:24am

          Re: Re: Re:

          'How low the public perception has fallen' work better?

          Before it was 'the word of a cop' vs 'the word of an accused criminal' and people would always trust the former and see them as sterling examples of all that is good, with anyone who said different dismissed as clearly having nefarious/criminal motivations, vs now when it's 'the word of a cop' vs 'one or more videos showing a different thing altogether' and everyone gets to see who's telling the truth.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          JOHN COKOS, 31 Jul 2018 @ 1:25pm

          The cops, what elese

          I've been to Federal Court, and won a out of court settlement in New Jersey.Compared to Ross's ordeal, mine was a piece of cake.
          It's a 6 figure out of court settlement with the land shark Attorney.
          No. things have not improve in a any real sense.The Bell Curve not withstanding, the Institutional AND SYSTEMIC CORRUPTION is still alive and well in Law Enforcement.
          The Qualified Immunity thing is a Legal fiction with no real basis in Law. It is a creature created out of Mission Creep of The Supreme Court. It has it's historical beginnings in the 17 and 1800's Sovereign Immunity concept brought over from England'
          The 5 or MAYBE 10% wins in Court against Cops is false bravado, the other 90% that never even get a chance to make it to trial pay the price. Not much as changed...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Advocate (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 5:02am

    Just another isolated incident.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Smith, 30 Jul 2018 @ 5:44am

    These are the same cops who used to say "it's just the internet" until people started posting about them.

    Same for the taxi drivers who used to laugh at their passengers who complained about the internet harming their livelihood but now protest uber and lyft.

    Next up: the NFL, and the tv stations and newspapers who cov er them, wonders how its league went bankrupt when all the revenue they generated for Big Internet was used to start a new league (the IFL), revenue helpe dby all the free advertising given to them, in a classic case of feeding the beast.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 6:02am

    The victim (and he is a victim) can proceed with his lawsuit, but the outcome will likely be just a settlement: a simple cash payout from the taxpayers of Jackson to make him go away. The officers themselves will not suffer any consequences of note, certainly nothing that would prevent it from happening again or make up for the harassment and this guy's time in custody.

    The morons who post the kind of inane gun-lust crap that got this ball rolling will also continue failing to see the irony of their support for jackbooted law enforcement officers unconstitutionally terrorizing this victim at gunpoint over a Facebook post.

    Meanwhile, if the victim stays around that area, he has to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life, because he can't count on police protection from any other gun-lusting morons who decide to give him a hard time. I hope he uses the settlement money to move somewhere truly safe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 7:15am

      Re:

      Thats unfortunately true. Whats the point of them losing their qualified immunity? Why the hell cant they be held personally liable!?!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re:

        In this case, losing their immunity means they go from ZERO percent chance of being held liable to 0.1% chance. It's not much, but it's also not zero.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:10am

        Re: Re:

        The loss of qualified immunity means that the police officers can be held personally liable for financial damages.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:24am

      Re:

      The morons who post the kind of inane gun-lust crap that got this ball rolling will also continue failing to see the irony of their support for jackbooted law enforcement officers unconstitutionally terrorizing this victim at gunpoint over a Facebook post.

      Which morons do you mean? The original poster of the base meme posted nothing legally actionable or even in particularly poor taste. Moreover, that person deleted the entire thread when Ross made his post, presumably because of the poor taste evidenced by Ross's post. Nothing in the story indicates that the original poster has any particular love of the police, particularly the elaborate caption about "self-defense against enemies foreign & domestic, for preservation of freedom & liberty, and to prevent government atrocities." That reads to me more like an individualist, not a hard-liner who believes the government and the police can do no wrong.

      The person who forwarded the screenshot is barely described at all, so it's not fair to assume that person is pro-firearm. It might be fair to call that person a moron, though.

      Meanwhile, if the victim stays around that area, he has to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life, because he can't count on police protection from any other gun-lusting morons who decide to give him a hard time.

      Do you think these things through before posting them?

      • Winning a suit against these officers doesn't necessarily make the entire department permanently hostile to him. We are routinely told that bad officers are a tiny minority, and a good officer would be cheering him on in this suit. So if you believe that bad officers are as rare as the police claim, most cops will not hate him for this. Conversely, if you believe bad officers are common, they would probably give him a hard time for even filing the lawsuit, regardless of whether he won.
      • Legally, he can't count on police protection even if he were the police's favorite person in the county. They are not obligated to protect him, even if they know he's in danger.
      • Practically, he can't count on police protection even if the police like him: the police very often are not close enough to intervene in a surprise altercation. This is especially true if you want to theorize that the attack is a "gun-lusting moron" who comes up and shoots Ross with no warning.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 7:22am

    And to top it all off...

    ...He didn't even get an answer to his question!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 7:58am

    If we locked up every young adult who said something seriously stupid, we'd have to dedicate entire states to our overflowing jails.

    Sheesh, once we had the "Red Book Squad" of deputized citizens fighting communism in colleges, now we have the "Facebook Squad".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:17am

    All this for??

    Who do you Sue, because no one taught Police to use abit of logic, and psychology?? No one talked to him and asked him a few questions.

    Who do you sue? Its a fun question.
    Police,
    Individual?
    City?
    county?
    State?
    All the above?
    Who gets Hurt because the TRAINING OF OFFICERS, is not Though..or even 1/2 what it should be..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:24am

    If we locked up every young adult who said something seriously stupid, we'd have to dedicate entire states to our overflowing jails.

    There are 2.3 million people incarcerated in the USA. Were "prison" a state, it would be just above New Mexico in population (more than Wyoming + Vermont + DC). There are 14 states with fewer people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:46am

    The entire doctrine of qualified immunity needs to be declared unconstitutional and outlawed. There should be no shield from the personal consequences of officers' bad actions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeff Green (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 10:29am

      Re:

      I can see a genuine use and need for qualified immunity, what seems to me totally absurd is the presumptions US courts appear to base it on.
      There are laws where the interpretation could conceivably be debated, in those cases a police officer should not be held personally responsible for making a reasonable interpretation of the law (that does not mean his employer should not be responsible!).
      However courts should always assume that (save in dire emergency split-second cases) that police officers know the laws they are applying. If they don't know the law what the fried-cucumber-sausages are they doing pretending to be officers of the law?
      These people are PAID TO KNOW THE LAW! It should be assumed they do under almost all circumstances and if they know the law and break it that should not entitle them to nice treatment as police officers it should be a reason to treat them more harshly than a non-police officer would be treated in the same circumstances!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 10:34am

        Re: Re:

        Police officers are paid to enforce the law, not to know it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 5:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Never mind the fact that one rather necessitates the other, as without knowledge of the law a cop is left in the position of basing their actions on what they think the law is, with things like 'qualified immunity' and 'good faith exceptions' giving them both incredible wiggle room and a very real incentive to know as little about the law as possible.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ECA (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 4:56pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So,
          You wait to be TOLD what and who to arrest..Even if THEY ARE WRONG??
          Funny..

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 12:07pm

    Low hanging fruit

    I'd like to think this is a symptom that this indicates there's too little crime for our precincts to justify their current size.

    More likely, though, they're terrified of real criminals doing real crimes that might be really armed, and are instead going for people who aren't committing crimes but one can argue it looks criminal enough from a Jedi point of view. People who think they're law-abiding aren't armed to resist law enforcement.

    It's much the way the FBI doesn't go after real terrorists with real bombs and real guns, but people they can trick in to behaving kinda-terroristy enough to entrap them and secure a conviction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 1:02pm

    "not "clearly established." "

    Meet the replacement for "Good Faith" exceptions.
    Because the arrestee was sodomized with a cattle prod, we keep the qualified immunity in place b/c there has been no case to clearly establish that sodomizing with a cattle prod is a violation of his rights.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 3:35pm

      Splitting hairs on the atomic level

      Because the arrestee was sodomized with a cattle prod, we keep the qualified immunity in place b/c there has been no case to clearly establish that sodomizing with a cattle prod of this particular brand and model is a violation of his rights.

      Given how generous some courts have been when it comes to qualified immunity and what police should and should not know I get the feeling that they'd absolutely split hairs fine enough that just because a ruling had been handed out before it still didn't count because the details weren't exactly the same(and besides, it's completely unreasonable for police to keep on top of the various cases that might impact what they're allowed to do).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 4:14pm

        Re: Splitting hairs on the atomic level

        Then there is the amount of charge in the device, the handle pattern....
        I'd laugh but we've seen this actually happening.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:18pm

    Lawrence’s Law Of Gun-Control Debates

    No discussion about the harms of guns can go on very long without somebody trying to conflate guns with cars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:43pm

    Random Quote

    "Even though there is no evidence, the seriousness of the charge is what matters. The seriousness of the charge mandates that we investigate this."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 10:19pm

      Arrest, charge and jail first, investigate... eh, later... maybe

      If that's a quote by one of the police trying to defend what they did it's extra funny considering what the court called them out on not doing.

      In this case, even a “minimal further investigation” would have revealed that Ross’s post was not a true threat. See Pulaski, 306 F.3d at 623. The officers conducted no investigation into the context of the statement, Ross’s history of violence, or Ross’s political beliefs about gun ownership or gun control measures.

      [...]

      In sum, it is beyond debate that—had the officers engaged in minimal further investigation—the only reasonable conclusion was that Ross had not violated § 574.115.1(3).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JustOneMoreQuestion, 30 Jul 2018 @ 9:02pm

    Seems like we need some sort of pre-crime department..

    That way we can find all the "bad-apples" in law-enforcement and pre-arrest them, and hold them until they violate another citizen's rights.

    Seems like win-win-win-win-win-win.....(600+ Million-wins-later)-win-win! Whoa, that took the wind out of me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Violated, 31 Jul 2018 @ 10:14am

    No sympathy

    I fully disagree with TD on this one when Ross was an idiot who should not have said what he did.

    This is the same type of thing as telling people in an airport you have a bomb.It may be obvious it is only a bad joke but TSA will take the matter very seriously.

    Again here is Ross in front of concerned parents asking what gun is best to use on young kids. In light of all the school shootings people would be concerned.

    The Police have a duty to investigate where detaining Ross for questioning was correct. TD saying no investigation was done is rubbish when Ross being charged with Disturbing the Public Peace was both the correct solution and shows they did not believe Ross was a serious threat to little kiddies.

    Now I don't know why they later dropped their charge but Ross is still the social moron.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 31 Jul 2018 @ 12:50pm

      The crime of being a social moron.

      Even if being a social moron justified laws against it (which it doesn't) there's the matter of proportional response, something the Department of Justice gives zero fucks about.

      As a reminder, the US is way over-concerned about rampage killings, and unconcerned about suicides, especially since rampage killings are essentially suicides with rage.

      Ours is a society that gives zero fucks also about health and welfare of the marginalized. As such rampage killings are a mere hazard of the Randian Utopia we live in.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 31 Jul 2018 @ 7:13pm

      Re: No sympathy

      The Police have a duty to investigate where detaining Ross for questioning was correct.

      See my comment just a little bit above, in particular the excerpt from the court. The court pointed out that they didn't perform any investigation, they merely arrested, charged him, and jailed him, almost certainly for CYOA reasons as they tried to find anything they could hit him with to avoid looking like chumps(at which they failed spectacularly).

      If you want the police jumping on anything and everything, arresting people at the drop of a hat before doing any investigation prior to that step have fun watching those arrest numbers skyrocket and the police being too busy chasing hay to notice any needles in time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Archie1954, 1 Aug 2018 @ 11:31am

    Te facts of this case are commensurate with a police state. The first judgement also supports such a belief. It is only when the appellate court looked at it that common sense prevailed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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