Qualified Immunity

Cops Accused of Stealing Over $225,000 Can't Be Sued, Thanks to Qualified Immunity

A court ruled that officers did not have enough information to know whether or not stealing violates the Constitution.

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The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Fresno police officers accused of stealing more than $225,000 while executing a search warrant are protected by qualified immunity and thus cannot be sued over the incident.

While the unanimous panel acknowledged that "the City Officers ought to have recognized that the alleged theft was morally wrong," it concluded that they "did not have clear notice that it violated the Fourth Amendment." In other words, the cops weren't equipped with enough information to deduce that robbing people is a violation of their constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures—a bizarre interpretation of the law, to say the least.

In 2013, the Fresno Police Department carried out a raid on Micah Jessop and Brittan Ashjian, who were suspected of operating illegal gambling machines. (Neither man was ever charged.) Upon completing the search, officers provided both with a ledger maintaining that they'd seized $50,000; Jessop and Ashjian allege that, in reality, the cops made off with $151,380 in cash and $125,000 in rare coins. Both men contend that the officers pocketed the difference between the funds reported with the warrant and the total amount they took, amounting to a $226,380 theft.

Even so, the panel granted qualified immunity—a legal doctrine that, in the words of Reason's C.J. Ciaramella, "allows public officials to violate a constitutional right" so long as that right has not been "clearly established" by current case law. In theory, it protects civil servants from undue harassment; in practice, it allows those officials to get away with behavior that would land a normal person in prison.

Writing for the panel, Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr. cited Brewster v. Beck, a Ninth Circuit precedent, as insufficiently applicable to the Fresno case. In that decision, the court ruled that officers who impounded a vehicle in an asset forfeiture seize—another repugnant practice—violated a woman's Fourth Amendment rights after she furnished a valid California driver's license and registration. (The police seized the car because she had a suspended license.)

But that doesn't pass muster here, said Smith. "Brewster," he wrote, "involved the seizure of property pursuant to an exception to the warrant requirement." But in Jessop v. City of Fresno, the officers "seized Appellants' property pursuant to a warrant that authorized the seizure of the items allegedly stolen." Smith also argues that the former case pertains to impoundment while the latter surrounds theft. That renders the decision a useless comparison, he says—notwithstanding the fact that outright stealing is arguably a more offensive transgression.

But the nail in the coffin is that Brewster was decided in 2017, four years after the Fresno officers allegedly robbed Jessop and Ashjian. Even if the precedent adequately aligned with Jessop, Smith argues, the officers didn't have that case law to guide them. Smith rejected the plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment claims on similar grounds, writing that the Ninth Circuit has "not held that officers violate the substantive due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when they steal property seized pursuant to a warrant."

Well, at least cops won't be able to use that excuse any more—right? I'm afraid not. The judges demurred at the opportunity to issue a definitive ruling on whether the Fresno police violated Jessop and Ashjian's rights, leaving the door open for another public servant to come along and do the very same thing.

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  1. Jesus Christ what assholes.

    1. This language is highly inappropriate. It should perhaps be pointed out that law enforcement authorities around the country would not be able to do their work if they did not have immunity. How, for example, would we have been able to secure the much-needed verdict in our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case, if prosecutors had had to operate under the shadow of the fear that they could be held liable for arresting the perpetrator and for charging him with a large array of extra crimes related to “speech” conduct that would turn out to be “constitutionally protected”? If that “speech,” and all of it, had not been skillfully criminalized at trial, it is likely no criminal conviction would have been secured at all. Here at NYU, we were aware of this difficulty at the time, and were able, at the appropriate moment, to assure prosecutors that they would be immune from any responsibility for assisting us in suppressing the unwanted “parody” that was impinging upon the reputation of our entire faculty and wreaking havoc in our classrooms. See the documentation at:

      https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

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    3. Fuckin’ progtard ninth circuit.

      1. I call it the Ninth Circus.

  2. While the unanimous panel acknowledged that “the City Officers ought to have recognized that the alleged theft was morally wrong,” it concluded that they “did not have clear notice that it violated the Fourth Amendment.” In other words, the cops weren’t equipped with enough information to deduce that robbing people is a violation of their constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures—a bizarre interpretation of the law, to say the least.

    Besides the constitutional aspect, isn’t theft also illegal by statute? I mean could anyone else really claim that they didn’t know theft was illegal?

    1. I don’t understand why the case swings on a 4th amendment violation. Unless it is about recovering more than stolen property.

      The city should at least be on the hook for the stolen property. Whether there is a case for punitive damages is another thing… although I’d posit that the city and courts defending the stealing of their property is a prima facia case for punitive damages.

      1. The cops committed theft but only the state can bring a criminal charge. And apparently they have no intention to do so. The only way the victim can force the issue is to claim the civil rights violation.

      2. There is no respondeat superior in section 1983 litigation, so the city can only be “on the hook” if the thieving cops were implementing official policy. Presumably there is no such city policy, so therefore the city cannot be liable.

        1. Joseph Heller wasn’t being ironic? And his commentary wasn’t limited to the military? Dang!

          (I poke fun at them… but it really does look like these idiots read Catch-22 and thought: “Hey, now there’s a great idea!!”)

    2. No! This claim clearly is reserved for the King’s Men, and the King’s Men alone!

  3. But the cops can be charged with grand theft, right? After all, if it wasn’t cop procedure, it must be personal behavior, and that’s just theft, right?

  4. It’s progressive CA. This was just income redistribution.

  5. The “Notable Decisions” section of Judge Milan Smith’s wiki page will have to be updated. If this doesn’t qualify as notable then nothing does.

  6. “The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Fresno police officers accused of stealing more than $225,000 while executing a search warrant are protected by qualified immunity and thus cannot be sued over the incident.”

    ” it concluded that they “did not have clear notice that it violated the Fourth Amendment.” ”

    ????

    So which is it ?

    When Reason starts writing consistent articles ,, they might be worth reading more !

    1. I don’t understand your question.

      The court found that because the officers did not have clear notice that stealing money from people while executing a search warrant violates their 4th amendment rights, they are protected by qualified immunity and cannot be sued.

      There is no either/or on those points.

    2. Reason is writing a consistent article, on a clearly (to right thinking people) inconsistent court decision. You do understand the difference, right?

  7. they “did not have clear notice that it violated the Fourth Amendment.”

    They’re only professional Law Enforcement Officers. Why should they be aware of the Supreme Law of the Land?

    1. Or, you know, the ubiquitous laws against stealing a quarter million bucks…

  8. Qualified Immunity isn’t going to save these dumb asses when someone takes it personally their property was illegally seized and the government closed all avenues of redress….

  9. Catch-22
    You can’t sue a cop for something not already specifically held to be “wrong”, regardless of obvious illegality. But nothing is ever specifically held to be “wrong” because the prior cops got off on immunity?
    Pitchforks and torches, guys; pitchforks and torches.

    1. Don’t forget the woodchippers, preferably the ones that are easy to clean.

      1. They can take our money, but they can never take our woodchippers.

  10. Ok, I read a chunk of the opinion.

    It is way more bizarre than reported on.

    The judges go out of their way to discuss the history of “seizure” as a legal standard. You see, in most cases a “seizure” is held to be an instantaneous act. They draw a distinction with continuous acts.

    So the “seizure” of the money was when the officers initially took it. At that instant. That is all.

    And here’s where the court gets too cute by half. You see, the initial seizure pursuant to a warrant and an investigation of possible gambling was deemed reasonable and lawful.

    Then, at some point after the seizure, the cops diverted the money for personal use. This was not part of the seizure.

    Therefore, they are entitled to qualified immunity.

    No lie, this is what the case hinged on.

    They seem to take issue with the other case mentioned – taking a car and refusing to give it back when given proof of a valid license. They are saying that keeping the property cannot be a violation of “unreasonable search and seizure” because a seizure is instantaneous, and has nothing to do with continuing to hold it.

    This court is way, way worse than you thought.

    1. This concurrence makes what they are doing more clear:

      Here, the City Officers obtained a warrant that
      authorized them “[t]o seize all monies . . . or things of value
      furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in
      connection to illegal gambling or money laundering that may
      be found on the premises.” Accordingly, the warrant
      permitted the City Officers to seize the money and rare coins
      that Appellants argue the City Officers stole from them.
      Under the reasoning of the Supreme Court and several
      circuits cited above, therefore, Appellants’ Fourth
      Amendment claim appears to fail. Because the City
      Officers’ initial seizure of Appellants’ property was lawful,
      and because a Fourth Amendment seizure is complete after
      the government has taken possession of the property,
      Appellants would not be able to state a Fourth Amendment
      claim against the City Officers for their theft of the property
      after its lawful seizure.

      1. So the court says they had a warrant that said they could take stuff. They took stuff. So that is completely covered by qualified immunity.

        What they did with it later does not raise any constitutional issues. Even though they diverted the money into their pockets on the way to the station, it is still all totally covered.

        These guys are mentally ill.

        1. Any evidence provided that what the criminals say was taken was, in fact, different in quantity from what the cops reported?
          I saw a lot of “alleged” theft referred to, but nothing to indicate these crooks were telling the truth.

          1. Everyone seems to be operating under the assumption that they did in fact steal the stuff.

            But the courts never get to that point. They ruled that the plaintiff has no right to complain about getting their stuff stolen because it was a perfectly legal taking under the 4th amendment.

            I’m not sure how the court thinks they are supposed to be made whole… they just say ‘yeah, that sucks. too bad for you’.

          2. “Any evidence provided that what the criminals say was taken was, in fact, different in quantity from what the cops reported?”

            It doesn’t matter when determining qualified immunity. When an government agent asserts qualified immunity the facts alleged are taken as true. Only if the facts, taken as true, demonstrate a violation of a clearly established right can the case proceed to an actual determination of the facts.

          3. By “the criminals” do you mean the plaintiffs, who were never charged with a crime?

          4. Qualified immunity protects the govt officers from being brought to court at all. Proving that the theft actually occurred would be a task for the plaintiff’s lawyers during the trial. Hence, for qualified immunity hearings, the facts the plaintiffs allege are assumed to be true.

            That’s what makes this ruling so goddamned bizarre. The judges have effectively stated that the officers couldn’t be brought to trial even if they actually stole the money, because cops wouldn’t have any reason to think that stealing from people is a violation of their rights. We can only hope that this case gets appealed and granted cert, so that there’s a hope of the Supreme Court slapping this nonsense down.

          5. I generally have nothing but respect for firefighters, but man is retiredfire a piece of human shit.

  11. As per the opinion of the 9th – any police officer serving a warrant that allows them to seize stuff as evidence is completely protected if they steal stuff.

    So if you are serving a warrant looking for evidence of burglary, you can take all of their TVs, video game systems, watches, jewelry, cash, computers, etc. And then you can simply divert whatever you want into your own collection.

    Unless your DA wants to come after you for stealing from the state, you are good to go. Because you didn’t steal from the citizen. That was all legal.

  12. Understand the hypertechnical point the court is making here. It is not saying that the officers did not know that theft was illegal. It is saying that it was not a clearly established legal theory that committing a theft while enforcing a warrant would be a fourth amendment violation, so the plaintiff could not sue the officers on constitutional grounds.

    Yeah, I know it’s ridiculous. But that is the basis of the decision.

    1. This is correct. At no point did the Ninth Circuit decide whether or not the police violated the Fourth Amendment because qualified immunity gives them a cheap out and they took it.

  13. What the pluperfect hell were the judges smoking, and can I get an ounce sent to my room?

    1. The judges were smoking prohibitionist laws against gambling. The right to bet money on facts and outcomes is structurally fundamental to freedom. The danger to rights comes primarily from weaponizing superstitious ignorance. If math users are not stopped from making bets, money temporarily held by opinionated socialists, mystics, prohibitionists quickly transfers to math-heads instead of government lotteries and political campaigns for Mitt, Bernie, Beto et ilkii. Funding of hate lobbies bent on making felonies of birth control and plant leaves might dry up. You wouldn’t want math-heads to thwart progress, would you?

  14. I think we’ve been through this discussion before. The police officers, acting within their official capacity and duly warranted, were completely legally justified in seizing all the money. If they then diverted this money into their own pockets, they weren’t stealing from the guy who was served with the warrant, they were stealing from the police department.

    1. No, that’s not what the Ninth Circuit held. As Number 2 explains, they merely held that it was not clearly established that the officers violated the Fourth Amendment so they were entitled to qualified immunity.

      1. No, he’s got it. That’s what the 9th held. As I describe above, they held that the warrant gave them every right to take it. So at the moment they took it they were acting legally.

        Then, when they didn’t put it in evidence, they were not taking it (from the plaintiffs). It was already taken. So there is no seizure at that moment. It was already seized. Hence, there is no 4th Amendment issue.

        1. Here is the salient quote from the concurring opinion:

          Because the City Officers’ initial seizure of Appellants’ property was lawful, and because a Fourth Amendment seizure is complete after the government has taken possession of the property, Appellants would not be able to state a Fourth Amendment
          claim against the City Officers for their theft of the property after its lawful seizure.

          1. No, you both are incorrect. As Number 2 explains, they merely held that it was not clearly established that the officers violated the Fourth Amendment so they were entitled to qualified immunity. If you were correct you would be quoting from the majority opinion rather than the concurrence. As in this case, concurrences are written by judges who agree with the result but not necessarily the reasoning.

            The judge who wrote the concurrence was willing to go beyond the majority opinion and hold that there wasn’t a Fourth Amendment violation, period. But neither of the other two judges on the panel were willing to sign off on that (either because they disagreed or because they didn’t need to address the issue because it wasn’t a clearly established violation).

        2. It is because there is no 4th amendment issue that qualified immunity attaches.

          That is the out – if they were violating your constitutional rights, they have no right to qualified immunity. But since the court ruled that there is no 4th amendment issue, then they are protected by qualified immunity.

          Luckily for the courts, they get that sweet, sweet absolute immunity. So they can just rubber stamp theft all day long and they can’t be touched.

          1. “It is because there is no 4th amendment issue that qualified immunity attaches.”

            Not really. If there’s no constitutional violation the government agent wins on summary judgment, with or without qualified immunity. But qualified immunity’s main role is to allow government agents to win when it’s not clearly established that what happened was a constitutional violation.

            “But since the court ruled that there is no 4th amendment issue”

            This case did not rule that there was no Fourth Amendment issue. It left that question open, with one judge saying it wasn’t and the other two remaining silent. Until a majority opinion says that it IS or IS NOT a Fourth Amendment violation, not just that whether it is or not is not clearly established, the question will remain open (which is one of the big problems with the doctrine).

    2. I thought the legal term was asset-forfeiture–at least when the cops do it.

    3. The issue with that ruling is that seized property does not transfer ownership. When the cops impound your car, it’s still yours, until the conclusion of civil assert forfeiture proceedings against it transfer that ownership to the state. Since the money in question here was seized but never forfeited, the money was indeed stolen from the plaintiffs, not the department.

      However, since theft of this nature isn’t a federal crime, but a state one, if the state declines to press charges (and after all, when do they ever prosecute police officers?) then one’s only recourse is a section 1983 suit against the officers for violation of constitutional rights.

      I agree that it’s less clear here that the 4th amendment rights have been violated – they did have a valid warrant. But I still believe the decision was made wrongly. Assuming the alleged facts to be true, the officers used a legal seizure as a vehicle for theft, which under any reasonable construction of the law is a clear violation of their rights as well as the sort of corruption that is clearly not deserving of qualified immunity.

  15. If I understand this correctly: Taking the money under the search warrant was either legal or not clearly illegal. The theft was after taking the money, so it was from the police agency rather than from the plaintiff. So the plaintiff has no standing to sue the cops as individuals.

    However, by that reasoning the agency failed to protect the plaintiff’s property while it was in their custody. That creates a cause of action against the agency and its supervisors.

    And if I’m on the jury hearing about something like this, I want to hear testimony that the thieves were fired and prosecuted. Otherwise, I’ll push for punitive damages. Supervisors and prosecutors that let cops get away with misbehavior are more guilty than the cops.

    1. No. As explained in the conclusion of the article, “[t]he judges demurred at the opportunity to issue a definitive ruling on whether the Fresno police violated Jessop and Ashjian’s rights.” The Ninth Circuit did not decide whether or not there was a constitutional violation because qualified immunity means they don’t have to if they don’t want to, and judges are lazy.

      1. Which means that you aren’t on the jury …. because no jury gets to hear it. This was a summary judgement for the defendants. They are not allowed to be sued. Qualified immunity attaches… no jury gets to stand in judgement of the kings men.

    2. Did I miss the part of the story where it was proven that any of the cops took any money, or property?
      All of this “theft by the cops” is just on the word of some guys, whose actions resulted in their money and property being seized, legally by the state.
      What’s the argument? “No, no. We had way more illegally gained money and goods than the cops reported on their forms.”

      1. “Did I miss the part of the story where it was proven that any of the cops took any money, or property?”

        No, but because of this ruling that will never happen.

        “All of this “theft by the cops” is just on the word of some guys,”

        That’s how summary judgment motions work.

        “whose actions resulted in their money and property being seized, legally by the state.”

        Remember when innocent until proven guilty was a thing? Pepperidge Farms remembers.

        “What’s the argument? “No, no. We had way more illegally gained money and goods than the cops reported on their forms.”

        No, the argument is that the money and coins weren’t illegally gained and that the officers stole money and coins under the color of law.

  16. Land of the free and the brave.

    Then we criticize, invade, and punish other countries because they are not like us.

  17. There has to be more to this story. Please tell me there’s more to this story.

    1. The part where it is proven that the cops really took more than they wrote down on the reports they filed.

      1. They’re cops, of course the lied.

  18. One hopes that IJ et. al. will appeal this to SCOTUS. Seems like the perfect case to take down qualified immunity.

    1. Actually, the issue that the 9th seems to be punting upstairs is the notion of “continual taking”

      They take great pains to point out that there is a long history that says that a seizure is an instantaneous event.

      There is a case from another court that deals with asset forfeiture. That court ruled that failure to return the property of a citizen after they showed that there was no crime was a 4th amendment violation. (in this case, they took her car because she didn’t have a driver’s license… when she showed up with the license, they didn’t want to give it back)

      The 9th clearly feels that this is wrong. They argue that a seizure only happens at the moment that the state takes control. So in the case of the car seizure, they would have ruled that the car was seized legally (because they thought she didn’t have a valid license at the time of seizure). When the citizen later proved that the seizure was in error, there was no seizure — because they already had the thing. Therefore, there is no 4th amendment violation.

      This 9th circuit opinion is much more odious than it appears. They want complete cover for the state to steal anything they want – as long as “procedures were followed” at the moment that the state took control.

      In this case they say that having a warrant gave them the right to take these folks money – so no 4th amendment violation. The fact that they didn’t enter it into evidence and kept it for themselves is irrelevant.

      In the case of asset forfeiture, they want to argue that taking stuff in good faith is all that is required. And by “good faith” i mean “having a legal pretext”. If the state can reach that burden, then you cannot raise a 4th amendment objection.

      They also argue that the 14th amendment is precluded by the same logic.

      They really are uniquely terrible.

      1. Here is the salient quote from the concurring opinion:

        Because the City Officers’ initial seizure of Appellants’ property was lawful, and because a Fourth Amendment seizure is complete after the government has taken possession of the property, Appellants would not be able to state a Fourth Amendment
        claim against the City Officers for their theft of the property after its lawful seizure.

        1. Again, the concurrence is not the majority opinion.

      2. WTF is this car seizure case about? I’m pretty sure that people without driver’s licenses are legally permitted to own vehicles.

        1. Some state’s asset forfeiture rules are …. well, they look pretty much exactly like some warlord taking whatever he wants.

      3. “There is a case from another court that deals with asset forfeiture. That court ruled that failure to return the property of a citizen after they showed that there was no crime was a 4th amendment violation. (in this case, they took her car because she didn’t have a driver’s license… when she showed up with the license, they didn’t want to give it back)”

        No, that is a case from the Ninth Circuit, the same Circuit that issued this ruling. There is another unpublished case from the Fourth Circuit holding that failing to return a watch violated the Fourth Amendment.

        “The 9th clearly feels that this is wrong. They argue that a seizure only happens at the moment that the state takes control. So in the case of the car seizure, they would have ruled that the car was seized legally (because they thought she didn’t have a valid license at the time of seizure). When the citizen later proved that the seizure was in error, there was no seizure — because they already had the thing. Therefore, there is no 4th amendment violation.”

        No, judge who authored the concurrence believes the Ninth Circuit’s decision is in error. The other two judges on the panel did not express any opinion either way.

        “In this case they say that having a warrant gave them the right to take these folks money – so no 4th amendment violation. The fact that they didn’t enter it into evidence and kept it for themselves is irrelevant.”

        No, that is not what they held. Please stop trying to explain a case you don’t understand. You are actively making people less informed when they read your posts. Knowing nothing about a case is better than having everything you know about a case be wrong.

  19. “While the unanimous panel acknowledged that ‘the City Officers ought to have recognized that the alleged theft was morally wrong,’ it concluded that they ‘cannot be expected to think like mature, mentally capable humans, as they are cops.'”

  20. I don’t see why police cannot do whatever they want. They represent the law. If they do it, it has to be right, by definition. For example, if a police officer rapes a woman in his custody, does he not have a right to do that? Otherwise, what does custody mean? To take another example, if police search a car and find $10,000 in cash, why should they not take it? Their supervisor would likely write them up if they did _not_ do so.

    To take a third and last example. Occasionally police shoot fugitives in the back as they try to escape. You cannot allow criminals to escape punishment simply because they turn the other way and run. That would not qualify as law enforcement. It would be mayhem.

    In each case, people who enforce the law illustrate they can take actions that ordinary people cannot. We know that because the criminal justice system does not prosecute or punish police officers who rape, steal, and kill. Occasionally, a murder is so flagrant, a police department cannot protect the perpetrator. A case like that is rare. The most severe consequence for flagrant killing is dismissal from the force.

    Theft is the easiest case, since civil forfeiture – as police departments call it – has support from law and common practice. Rape is the harder case, since the crime is easy to deny. What rape victim wants to bring a charge of sexual against a police officer? If an officer is on the right side of the law by definition, what is the point?

    The only difference between the Fresno case, and many others, is that the amount of money is so large. We have petty theft and grand theft. I do not see why police would take so much, all at once, when they have so many methods to take smaller, less conspicuous quantities. I suppose after a while you become over-confident.

    1. In response to this discussion, my brother told me about a case that he had a while back.

      A sheriff’s deputy slammed a prisoner to the ground after he wouldn’t leave his cell. He didn’t resist, he just wouldn’t cooperate. So the deputy slammed him to the ground. According to the witness testimony, his head sounded like a melon breaking.

      So his family sued for the wrongful murder of their family member.

      The burden of proof was that the police acted negligently. The court ruled that the officer and government were covered by qualified immunity. It apparently isn’t immediately obvious that violently slamming someone into a concrete floor as a method of encouraging compliance is dangerous.

      So the family got nothing. They didn’t even get to have a jury hear it. Qualified immunity attaches…. case dismissed.

  21. This legal schemata provides for never establishing whether such an act was illegal, and thus always allowing for qualified immunity.
    The theory that the police wouldn’t know that their actions are illegal, because it was never decided by a court to be illegal, is self-perpetuating, because qualified immunity prevents the court from ever deciding if it was illegal.
    Hence the police can continue to do it, and the little tail of qualified immunity effectively short circuits the whole statute from ever being useful or effective.
    Just the way the powers-that-be want it.

  22. Everyone involved in this clusterfuck of justice deserves to be fed into a running woodchipper, feet first.

    1. +1000

  23. In a heavily mixed economy, 150 grand tax-free will buy you the court decision of your dreams.

  24. I hope this goes to the SCOTUS because this won’t fly there.

  25. What kind of judges would rule that government officials acting by warrant could steal without being held to account under the Fourth Amendment?

    Two Republicans — one of whom went out of his way to defend uniformed thieves, the other picked for federal judge by Pres. Reagan 10 years out of law school — and a Democrat who worked as a prosecutor (and was made a judge by Gov. Gray Davis 11 years out of school).

  26. What Dirt Bags. With That being said. I’m surprised that kind of ruling came out of the Ninth Circuit of Appeals.

  27. It makes you want to strangle these people or at least slap some sense into them. It’s just insane. Shouldn’t these thieving cops have been arrested and prosecuted?

  28. Cops have been stealing from the targets of their criminal investigations since time immemorial. It’s probably one of the oldest manners of theft there is. I just cannot hide my contempt for these judges, these cops and this system of justice.

  29. We need to create a legal defense fund to specifically address this immunity scheme to fund lawsuits to build up our rights.

  30. The court has it right. This is not a 4th amendment violation. It’s a “grand theft” violation. The victims should not be able to sue the officers any more than you can sue a person who breaks into your house. Simply being on the job when they commit their crimes does not make them more liable than if they had broken into the victim’s house to steal the same things at any other time.

    THAT SAID… they should be arrested by the cops and charged with grand theft like anyone else would.

    1. I’m pretty sure that if you had a construction company doing a renovation in your kitchen and a couple of the electricians stole $250k while they were there, you’d have a case against the construction company as well as a criminal case against the individuals.

      Particularly if the construction company’s attorney defended the electricians at company expense.

  31. It seems to me that the city should have to make them whole. They should be able to sue the city for failing to maintain a proper chain of custody of their property.

    If the city had to pay out, maybe they’d take an interest in what their officers were doing. As it is now, the city seems to be able to make a wink-wink arrangement with the police union to provide some off-the-books fringes.

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