Qualified Immunity

6th Circuit: This Man Can Sue the Cop Who Arrested Him for Defending His Daughter Against a Feral Cat

Dwain Barton says Officer Dean Vann illegally entered his home and used excessive force while arresting him without probable cause.

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After a neighbor called 911 and falsely reported that Dwain Barton had killed a cat, a local police officer charged through a screen door into Barton's house without a warrant and injuriously manhandled him while arresting him for animal cruelty, a charge that was eventually dismissed. When Barton sued the officer, Dean Vann, for violating his Fourth Amendment rights, a federal judge concluded that Vann was protected by "qualified immunity," which shields police from liability when their actions do not run afoul of "clearly established" law. Last Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit overturned that ruling, concluding that Barton should have an opportunity to prove his claims against Vann.

The 6th Circuit's decision shows there are limits to the doctrine of qualified immunity, which too often lets cops off the hook for outrageous conduct. But because the case did not involve a dispute about what counts as a "clearly established" right, the ruling does not go to the heart of the danger posed by that doctrine.

The circumstances that led to Vann's assault on Barton began on a Monday afternoon in November 2014, when his daughter was attacked by a stray cat as she was jumping on a trampoline in the backyard of the family's home in Lincoln Park, Michigan. Barton scared the cat away by firing a BB gun at one of the trampoline's legs. Then he noticed Jill Porter, a neighbor he blamed for attracting feral cats to the block by leaving out food scraps for them, standing in her own backyard three doors down. "Hey, Jill," Barton called out, "the next cat that I see in my yard will be a dead one."

Porter responded by calling police and claiming that Barton had told her, "Your gray cat just peed on my furniture, and he got shot in the head." That report led to a visit about 40 minutes later by Animal Control Officer Adam Manchester, who spoke to Barton through his screen door. While declining to come outside or provide identification, Barton denied shooting any cats and explained what had happened. In his written report, Manchester nevertheless asserted that Barton had "shot [a cat] in the head" with a BB gun, although he also said he had not seen any weapons or injured animals. Manchester radioed the Lincoln Park Police Department, claiming that Barton had "admitted to shooting animals."

Ten minutes later, eight police officers in four patrol cars arrived at Barton's home. According to Barton's complaint, they took "what looked like assault rifles" out of their trunks and "surrounded" the house. Manchester again asked for Barton's identification, which he handed through the door to his mother-in-law, who was on the front porch and passed it along to the cops. Moments later, Vann, who said he was afraid that Barton was "grabbing a gun," tore through the screen door and entered the house, where he saw Barton standing, unarmed, in the kitchen.

Barton's wife testified that Vann "threw [Barton] up against the counter like a linebacker." Barton said Vann "lifted [him] up with his elbows underneath [his] body and [his] arm and literally picked [him] up and slammed [him] up against [the] kitchen cupboards, at which point all of the other officers, like ants, followed in" and "surrounded" him. When Vann told Barton to put his hands behind his back so he could be handcuffed, Barton said he could not do that because of a shoulder injury. According to Barton, Vann then "grabbed both of [his] wrists and took them both behind [his] back," "shoved them both together," and "put the handcuffs on [him] as tight as he possibly could."

At that point, by Barton's account, Vann "shoved" him out the door, down the front steps, and into a patrol car, which took him to the police station, where he was strip-searched and detained for three hours before he was released on bail. Barton testified that Vann's rough handling aggravated his shoulder injury and left him with cuts on his wrists for several days.

Barton sued Vann under 42 USC 1983, which allows people to recover damages when a government official violates their constitutional rights under color of law. Barton argued that Vann illegally entered his home without a warrant, arrested him without probable cause, and used excessive force during the arrest. Vann claimed he was protected by qualified immunity, and U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh III granted his motion for summary judgment.

Steeh concluded that Vann was justified in entering the home based on "exigent circumstances," since "it was reasonable for Officer Vann to believe that Barton was armed, and that he was willing to use his weapon to harm the officers or others." Steeh also concluded that "Officer Vann had probable cause to believe that Barton had violated a local animal cruelty ordinance" and that "Barton fails to create a genuine issue of material fact on his excessive force claim" because he did not present sufficient evidence that Vann injured him during the arrest.

A unanimous 6th Circuit panel of three judges saw things differently. "Based on the facts alleged and the evidence produced, viewed in the light most favorable to Barton, a reasonable juror could find that Vann violated Barton's Fourth Amendment rights to freedom from warrantless entry into his home, use of excessive force, and arrest without probable cause," Judge Julia Smith Gibbons wrote. "These violations were of clearly established law." The court therefore rejected Vann's claim of qualified immunity.

"Without additional evidence of a threat against the police or bystanders, a report of an armed suspect inside his home does not justify warrantless entry," Gibbons observed. "Here, the only threat Barton made was that 'the next time [he saw] a cat in [his] yard attacking [his] children, it [would] be a dead one.' And when Manchester questioned Barton about the incident, prior to Vann's warantless entry, Barton told Manchester that he had shot at a trampoline pole with a BB gun, not the marauding cat. Vann never heard Barton threaten the officers or any neighbors. Vann never observed Barton with a weapon. Vann never suspected that someone inside the house was in peril. And Vann did not see any evidence of an injured animal."

Regarding the arrest, "a phone call reporting criminal activity, without any corroborating information, does not provide probable cause for an arrest," the 6th Circuit said. "Information from a caller [who] is not an eyewitness to the events lacks indicia of trustworthiness and reliability….Based on the information Vann had at the time, including the exculpatory statement offered by Barton, no reasonable officer would have concluded that there was probable cause for arrest."

As for the claim of excessive force, "Barton has presented sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Vann's use of force was reasonable," Gibbons wrote. "It would be clear to a reasonable officer that the amount of force used by Vann against Barton was unlawful. First, Barton was being arrested for animal cruelty, not a crime that would justify the amount of force used here. It was contested as to whether Barton shot the cat, and even if he did, whether he would have been justified in doing so given the attack on his daughter. There was no threat to human safety from Barton's actions. Second, Barton did not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others….Third, the facts do not suggest that Barton was resisting arrest or attempting to flee."

After Barton was handcuffed, he claimed, Vann "tossed [him] down" the steps of his front porch toward Manchester. "Vann was on notice that his conduct was a violation of Barton's constitutional right to be free from excessive use of force," Gibbons wrote, "as it was obvious that Vann could not shove a handcuffed detainee off a front porch about three feet off the ground when there was no threat to the safety of the officers or others."

Many qualified immunity decisions involve disputes about whether a right was clearly established. As Fifth Circuit Judge Don Willett has observed, "qualified immunity smacks of unqualified impunity, letting public officials duck consequences for bad behavior—no matter how palpably unreasonable—as long as they were the first to behave badly." Worse, courts often rule that a right allegedly violated by police was not clearly established without deciding whether their actions were unconstitutional. That approach creates a "Catch-22," Willett said, because "plaintiffs must produce precedent even as fewer courts are producing precedent" and "important constitutional questions go unanswered precisely because those questions are yet unanswered."

In this case, by contrast, the disagreement between Steeh and the 7th Circuit hinged on the proper application of well-established law to the facts of the incident. Even if Vann had not claimed qualified immunity, Steeh might still have held that he was entitled to summary judgment under Rule 56 because Barton's allegations were insufficient as a matter of law.

If Barton ultimately persuades a jury that Vann violated his rights (or if the case is settled out of court), Vann almost certainly will not be personally on the hook for any payout. After investigating the practices of 81 law enforcement agencies, UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz found that "police officers are virtually always indemnified" in civil rights cases. During the period she studied, "governments paid approximately 99.98% of the dollars that plaintiffs recovered in lawsuits alleging civil rights violations by law enforcement."

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  1. “””Information from a caller [who] is not an eyewitness to the events lacks indicia of trustworthiness and reliability….””

    I guess there are a few here that would disagree with that statement.

    1. No orange men were involved.

  2. Shoots at the trampoline his kid was on but the cat is the problem. Christ what an asshole.

    1. The neighbor who was attracting stray cats to the neighborhood is the problem. Aiding and abetting feral animals should be a much higher priority for the police than killing feral animals. So, it turns out, in the event, that it is you who is the asshole. Why don’t you go back to hell where you belong, Dillinger.

      1. wow dude. check your meds.

      2. >>that it is you who is the asshole

        also i rarely deny this

        1. Are we related?

          1. i don’t tell people i post here so it *would* be funny

            1. The asshole branch of the Jerk clan is wide and varied.

              1. Ugh. Phrasing.

                1. that is a…. vibrant image. I need some brain bleach

      3. Fuck off SQRLSY

      4. No question the police were completely out of control. The neighbor claimed the cat as hers, that means it was not a “stray”.

        Cats are not as aggressive as some dogs can be, they do not attack people unless cornered and/or tormented and will exhibit violent tendencies against people only in an attempt to escape. Given the opportunity they will avoid any encounter with strangers and immediately flee every time. Clearly Mr Barton is not telling the truth.

        I saw no mention of what the fate of the cat actually was.

        1. “…Clearly Mr Barton is not telling the truth…”

          See:
          “…Information from a caller [who] is not an eyewitness to the events lacks indicia of trustworthiness and reliability….”

          1. The caller was Jill Porter, she also claimed the cat as her pet. She reported her conversation with Mr Barton to Animal Control. Did the cat show up safe and sound after this incident? If the cat turned up uninjured, that’s the best way to determine that he didn’t shoot it. If the was no attempt to determine the whereabouts of the cat afterward then the investigation was incomplete.

            1. Your approach to the truth is the same as the cops’ – and it’s lacking.

        2. Cut the bullshit. Feeding a stray cat does not make it yours, and there are plenty of feral tomcats that will attack people when ill, but not rabid. Especially if said cat was hiding under the trampoline when the daughter approached the trampoline.

          1. Bullshit. Feeding a domestic animal on your own property makes it yours.

            1. BS. If I take YOUR dog onto MY property and feed it, that makes it MY dog now by your definition.

              You’re an imbecile.

              1. You’re a pedant.

          2. Jill Porter claimed the cat, it was Mr Barton who labeled it a “stray”. If a cat is too sick to run it will attempt to defend itself from a perceived threat, just like any other animal including people. However, to be threatened or injured by this you have to be within reach of the animal.

            I’ve dealt with situations like this before, some people are just hateful to animals and have no compunctions about lying to authorities when confronted about their actions.

            1. Perhaps Ms. Porter should control her animal. The cat was on HIS property and HE perceived it as a threat to his minor daughter. Some people just like animals more than they value the rights of humans and are willing to lie to “authorities” and Reason.com commentariat…

        3. If it was her cat and not a stray, why was it in the neighbor’s yard?

          People feed stray or feral cats that that otherwise roam the neighborhood at will, killing birds and baby rabbits which upsets the neighbors’ kids. I’ve had to run stray or feral cats off my property. A responsible owner will keep their pet on their own property. My cat is a house cat but does not go out. I live in a neighborhood with both stray dogs, stray cats and wild possums and raccoons with occasional reports of outbreaks of rabies.

        4. Your comment about cats is untrue. I had a stray attack me without provocation. It let me come up to it and pet it, it even purred. When I turned to walk away, it leaped up and attacked me from behind, biting me in the back of the leg and causing multiple scratches and puncture wounds. I talked to some friends who were feeding strays, and they reported the same behavior in certain cats. They also had a cat they were feeding that would attack without provocation.

      5. What a friendly forum this is!

    2. A) There’s no indication the kid was still on the trampoline. B) Even if the kid was (and why would she be, if she was just freaking attacked by a feral cat there) it was a freaking BB gun, aimed at a leg *under* the trampoline.

      Christ what an asshole.
      Yep.

      1. >>There’s no indication the kid was still on the trampoline.

        of course not, have a sense of humor … there’s no reason to shoot at (near) an animal who’s not attacking your child who’s not on the trampoline anymore either if such was the case

        1. I dunno, to get it off your freakin property so your daughter can get back on, maybe?

        2. there’s no reason to shoot at (near) an animal who’s not attacking your child who’s not on the trampoline anymore either if such was the case

          Hundreds. The only one that a real libertarian would/should care about is if the cat owns the property, which it doesn’t. Lacking this libertarians should/would recognize their right to tell all the other slavers to fuck off with needing a reason to shoot a bb gun, for any reason, on private property.

          1. This. Neighbor’s pet comes on my property and menaces anyone the neighbor gets once chance to retrieve their animal and prevent any repeat. Any repeat and I solve the problem permanently.

            Feral or wild don’t get any courtesy, they get solved immediately.

          2. For all we know that cat had been coming to the property for decades and had his rothbard documents in hand.

        3. After a feral cat stops attacking my child it’s still going to be dead. The penalty for attacking my child is death, and there is no statute of limitations.

          1. More fundamentally, I decide the penalty for even threatening my child, on my property while you’re on my property and no one else.

            1. Can we all please just agree with the following:

              When assaulted by wild pussy, the ONLY / BEST thing, is to just surrender and enjoy it?

        4. Yes, clearly, because *of COURSE* an animal could *NEVER* come back and attack your child later…

          You talk like someone who:
          1. Doesn’t have family members, pets, or livestock you want to protect
          2. Have never been around animals who are likely to attack you, your pets, or your livestock
          3. Doesn’t understand managing risks for the future

          I had a raccoon on my property who was very clearly suffering from distemper or early stage rabies (complete lack of fear of humans, periodic seizures, etc.). I shot the thing, not because it was threatening my children while they were outside playing (they weren’t). I shot it because I had NO IDEA where that raccoon would be, or how it would act the NEXT time I let my kids out to play, and I’m not gambling with my childrens’ health and safety for the “wellbeing” of an obviously sick animal…

    3. He probably shot at the leg of the trampoline with the BB gun to get it to make a metallic “ping” to amplify the noise to scare the cat away.

    4. Shoulda used an arsenic rub on raw burger.

  3. I like the bit about “the other officers, like ants, followed in”. That’s all they are, ants following a trail, no intelligence, no thinking, and only brave in the aggregate.

    1. I’m too lazy to go dig up a link, but there was a lawsuit against a police department for discriminating against applicants that scored too highly on intelligence tests. The department won, and are allowed to only hire suitably dumb applicants. They don’t want anyone who will actually think about what they’re doing, just people who will follow orders.

      Keep that in mind when dealing with the police, whoever you’re dealing with didn’t clear the “too smart” bar for that department.

      1. I remember that. It was pretty hilarious.

    2. This is how cops get qualified immunity for a warrantless home invasion – it’s based on whether a reasonable cop would know he’s breaking the law and not on whether a reasonable person would know a warrantless home invasion is a violation of the law. “A reasonable cop” has to be placed in context, like a fat hippo or a tall giant or a fast race car, it’s “compared to others of its type” rather than a universal standard.

  4. The cops did not violently assault and arrest an innocent man because they believed he hurt a stray cat. Nor did they violently assault and arrest him for threatening his neighbor or a stray cat.

    No. They violently assaulted and arrested this man for not opening his screen door or getting on his knees and pleading for his life. They did this as retaliation for not respecting their authority.

    Both Dean Vann and Adam Manchester ought to be thrown in prison.

    1. The neighbor making the false complaint should join them.

      1. If this was my neighbor, they would end up deciding they should move.

      2. I’d make sure they all ended up in the extra ass-rape part of the prison, personally.

    2. Perhaps you’re correct. Or maybe the cop was a big animal lover and decided to enact some justice himself based on a neighbor bearing false witness of her neighbor.

      Regardless, I sure hope this cop gets fired, and cops stop treating people, even criminals, in such aggressive and harmful ways. It’s one thing if the person is resisting arrest, it’s entirely another thing if they’re asserting their rights.

      1. “Regardless, I sure hope this cop gets fired…”

        Well aren’t you adorable. I’m sure that’s exactly what’s going to happen rather than the cop getting the equivalent of a two week paid vacation.

  5. This seems like a clusterfuck.

    The officer is unlikely what congress had in mind when drafting that law. He isn’t using his office to abuse people he doesn’t like. He’s just overzealous in his enforcement office the law.

    It seems problematic to hold officers accountable for communication failures that occur up the chain. The real villain is the neighbor and the animal officer. And perhaps the dispatcher. How do we hold them accountable?

    1. Are you saying that piece of shit cop and his buddies all were robots, that they had no agency, no self-awareness?

      1. “that they had no agency, no self-awareness?”

        Those get surgically removed when rookie cops join the union.

    2. “It seems problematic to hold officers accountable for communication failures that occur up the chain.”

      Why? Let them make sure they have good info before running around kicking in doors and tazing people.

      And in any event, the cop won’t be held accountable. If the lawsuit succeeds the cop will be indemnified by his employer.

    3. It seems problematic to hold officers accountable for communication failures that occur up the chain.

      Did he have a warrant? Did he enter the property?

      Seems like a pretty solid failure is/was sitting right in his lap and while there may have been other failures up the chain, they’re extenuating or mitigating at best.

    4. Fire them. Give them a permanent mark in their file. Start maintaining a national registry of police officers who violate individuals’ civil rights.

  6. Serious question. Is it not legal to defend myself against wildlife in my yard?

    1. are the kitties armed?

      1. Feral cats can be mean and rabid.

        1. more likely they’re just cats. don’t be afraid. and call animal control if you are – shooting rabid animals yourself is not the better choice especially if you’re in a neighborhood and your daughter is on the trampoline

          1. Whether or not it’s a good idea to shoot them requires more info than we have; I don’t know what kind of marksman this guy is or what angles he has so I’m not inclined to believe he’s endangering his daughter without evidence. It’s also a BB gun, so calm down, it’s not going to do any real damage if he misses.

            Is he allowed to shoot these animals on his own property? I’m curious about where you think property rights end, if an animal attacking your daughter on your own property isn’t a justified shoot I’m curious where that line is drawn for you. Again, not stating shooting was the right move in this instance, just that he definitely has the right to do it if he decides to.

            1. I will remember to stay off your property at all times. please picture whether the child was *truly* being *attacked* by a kitty while *up on a trampoline* or if this guy was just a dick who hates his neighbor.

              1. You may be correct, but if you are I suspect it’s because these neighbors have had run ins with each other in the past and it has reached a boiling point.

                If the first time someone’s stray cat walks into your yard you shoot it, you’re an asshole even if you had the right. If her dozen cats keep coming over and fucking your property up and preventing your children from enjoying their trampoline, that’s a different story. We don’t know the history, but the smart money is that the latter is what has been happening.

                Too much unknown here for me to immediately assume the guy is an asshole.

                1. also this is a “cops suck” story so i’m on the dude’s side i was just making light

                  1. Feral cats suck too. They are worse than useless, and do major harm to other, truly native, wildlife.

                    Destroying them as humanely as possible is entirely appropriate.

                    1. You sound like a naive person that’s never had a rodent problem.

              2. I will remember to stay off your property at all times.

                Does the libertarian idea of property rights ask for anything more?

                1. nope. tried to rein it back in w/that.

              3. Irrelevant. It’s his property.

            2. It’s also a BB gun, so calm down, it’s not going to do any real damage if he misses.

              You’ll put your daughter’s eye out!

              1. This nation needs sensible BB gun legislation.

          2. I have feral cats feed them sometimes, no fear here and calling animal control is no safer than calling the cops. but when an animal is acting weird time to take action and not wait for animal control. BTW in my community animal control closes at 5:30 and weekends so thats useless at those times and the rest of the time there is one for the entire county.

          3. Yes, wait for the state to send inept agents to your property, while the possibly rabid animal leaves to go bite someone else…great plan, much responsibility.

        2. Feral cats can be mean and rabid.

          People are allergic. They torment ‘native’ pets. They torment native wildlife. They destroy property. They shit in places they shouldn’t shit. They shed. They steal. They make noise late at night…

          Poison milk will usually drive them away one way or another and whether you spilled milk on your rat poison or got rat poison in your milk, your neighbors can fuck right the hell off unless they’re going to enact an ordinance about putting milk out.

          1. Poison milk is also how I’ll reap your soul. I’m always looking for dark souls like yours to reap. Mmm delicious. See you soon.

    2. For the most part it’s legal to defend yourself against wildlife in your yard (try not to get attacked by a bald eagle or any other endangered species) but, as in this case, you’re leaving yourself open to questions as to whether or not you were actually defending yourself against wildlife. (“I swear the neighbor guy looked just like a bear so I shot him!” is probably not going to be an adequate defense.) And I’m sure there are jurisdictions that have specific laws against killing animals with no self-defense exceptions and “duty to retreat” laws that would simply make the argument that the guy should have just gone inside and called animal control.

      1. “I swear the neighbor guy looked just like a bear so I shot him!” is probably not going to be an adequate defense.

        Unless you’re a cop, where you can say “I thought he was going for a gun” based on nothing is always an adequate defense.

        1. He identified as a bear. Wasn’t taken any chances. The Blue Oyster Bar owner was a little upset.

    3. Serious question. Is it not legal to defend myself against wildlife in my yard?

      It’s funny that ‘defend’ is the line. Like state-mandated licensing of control and removal of nuisance animals is sensible or OK.

      When they haul me off for dead-trapping squirrels or chipmunks or shooting feral cats on my property, please punch Dilinger in the stomach for me.

      1. meds, dude. totes violates NAP

        1. Nope.

          Me storing my poisoned milk on my back stoop in no way violates the NAP.

          You or your cat stealing my poisoned milk off my back stoop absolutely violates property rights.

          Your insistence that somebody should arrest me for doing as I please with my property is an initiation of aggression.

          1. dude i never insisted on anyone being arrested i would never call the cops on anyone for anything. you farmed out punching me in the stomach.

            1. you farmed out punching me in the stomach.

              Explicitly conditional to my arrest.

        2. The NAP does not apply to non persons, you retard.

      2. also i put seed out on my back patio every day for birds and squirrels send them my way instead of killing them whaddya say?

        1. also i put seed out on my back patio every day for birds and squirrels send them my way instead of killing them whaddya say?

          Don’t get any seeds on my property and I won’t get squirrel blood on yours.

          1. Eat the squirrels. Gut ’em, skin ’em and fry ’em. Or gut ’em, then splay them out on a skewer or forked tree branch, and cook them over an open fire – skin, fur and all. The fur will burn and the skin will cook, and it will come off like chicken skin after cooked. Then you can eat the squirrel meat.

            I was deer-hunting in Central California when I saw some Hmong or Cambodians hunting squirrels and cooking the squirrels that way.

      3. Excessive force violates the NAP. If you park your car on my property, I can have it removed but not destroy it. Likewise, animals – you can have it removed but not kill it. Cassie, you seem to have a case of bloodlust. Just learn how to chill and live and let live. I only hunt what I will eat – deer, gamebirds, pussy.

  7. Seems like what this guy needs is a big dog that just happens to get off leash sometimes. Would probably keep the crazy cat lady in check.

    Who am I kidding, the cops would’ve just shot the dog.

    1. Probably why they roughed him up, 8 of them showed up expecting at least one dog to shoot.

  8. At least govt agent protector judge Steeh got bench slapped.

  9. Everyone knows only cops can shoot at cats and dogs – – – – – –

    1. Thanks to old ladies who think a stray cat is more important than their neighbors kids.

      1. How are stray cats hurting kids? Feral cats run from humans.

        1. Your presumption lacks evidence.

          It’s not a given that every stray cat on earth is a scared-y cat. I’ve seen many, especially around really young kids, that don’t run but instead hiss and scratch when the kids try to pet them.

          Frankly; the very fact the cat is an unwanted trespasser is enough justification for me to shoot it. We shoot skunks all the time but thankfully we don’t have a psychotic mob running around these parts pretending skunks have human rights out of their own feelings of boredom and uselessness.

  10. at which point all of the other officers, like ants, followed in

    What a bunch of myrmidons.

    1. How many cops does it take up respond to an unsubstantiated animal cruelty call?

      1. All of them?

    2. Don’t you know if rude to commune by flux shifting around people who’s vortal inputs are impaired.

      Abelist!

  11. Anyone else find it funny in an ironic sort of way that the cops who spend their free time shooting dogs are up in arms about someone supposedly harming a cat?

    1. Everything cops do is about dominance. This guy didn’t get arrested for hurting a cat. He was arrested because he didn’t show sufficient respect. The cop caused physical harm to show dominance. Cops are silver-back apes.

      1. Speaking of dominance… Hi dominee.

        1. *Angry gorilla noises*

  12. “governments paid approximately 99.98% of the dollars that plaintiffs recovered in lawsuits alleging civil rights violations by law enforcement.”

    Uh. No, they didn’t. “TAXPAYERS paid approximately 99.98% of the dollars that plaintiffs recovered in lawsuits alleging civil rights violations by law enforcement.”

    CB

    1. The taxpayers voted for the people who ultimately hired the law enforcement. Law enforcement are employed by the taxpayers who are ultimately responsible. If the taxpayers don’t want to pay damages, they can vote for less asshole law enforcement.

  13. I know the story is about qualified immunity, but this reminds me why I loathe the old ladies that insist on feeding the feral vermin.

    1. Unless the old ladies are calling the cops on you, what difference does it make? Feral cats run from humans.

  14. and into a patrol car, which took him to the police station, where he was strip-searched

    And why the fuck was he strip-searched? More revenge for “not respecting my authoritah”?

    1. why can’t a strip search be called rape. if a boyscout leader does it to a boy scout it would be so why not when cops do it when there is no call for it.

    2. Strip searches are policy for anyone who is going to jail. This is an attempt to stop smuggling of drugs, cell phones, and other contraband into the jail. There are plenty of low-level criminals that think the payoff for drugs or for bringing a cell phone to a gang chief is worth being arrested for a petty crime, so it’s worthwhile making sure arrestees don’t have something clenched between their butt cheeks or taped to their body.

      And it works well enough that most of the contraband is smuggled in by jail employees. Only a cynic would think that the strip searches are to protect this source of profits…

  15. The police department will settle.

    Throw some money at the lawyer to get their client to settle and never change police policy.

  16. Jill Porter, a neighbor he blamed for attracting feral cats to the block by leaving out food scraps for them

    I don’t know how reliable the studies are, but there are studies that show that feral cats kill many songbirds. I wonder if the people who feed feral cats ever give that a thought.

    1. They don’t, they just selfishly appreciate the few moments a day they’re dealing with the cats and ignoring the shit the cats get up to the other 98% of the day.

    2. I don’t know how reliable the studies are, but there are studies that show that feral cats kill many songbirds.

      Moreover, there’s little evidence that they actually eradicate or reliably drive away pests. A trained or conditioned cat may drive away pests in and around the home, but a decent population of feral cats will eliminate songbirds while freely allowing and potentially even attracting rats, opossum, raccoons, etc.

      1. Especially when the Krazy Kat lady neigbors start leaving out cat food.

        1. Recently was approached by a friend of the wife to help out with a raccoon problem (she heard I have a have-a-heart.). I asked if she knew why they were coming around, and she says they are coming to steal the food she leaves outside at night for her own pets. Turns out her own pets were losing weight because the racoons (and possums) were so aggressive, and her ‘solution’ had been to leave more food, and leave it out all night.

          Told her to start feeding her own pets once daily, in the garage, in daylight, then remove all the leftover food.

          Problem solved in a week.

          1. she heard I have a have-a-heart.

            I would avoid a mouse, rat, chipmunk, squirrel, cat, opossum, skunk, raccoon, coyote, wolf/wild dog problem rather than be forced to solve it. For some reason people insist on not just not avoiding but actively and directly creating cat problems.

    3. Hungry cats kill more birds. The songbird population is not threatened.

  17. What kind of cat attacks children on trampolines unless provoked? This whole story is bizarre. I suspect there was no cat attack at all. Maybe not even an actual cat, just a crazy cat lady in the neighborhood.

    1. Yeah it’s hard to say what happened, the whole thing reeks of this guy getting sick of the crazy cat lady in his neighborhood and it reached a point where cops were called.

      That said, between the two parties I’m far more likely to believe the dude who got Protected and Served over the crazy cat lady.

    2. Feral toms can be both territorial and aggressive. Same goes for females if they have a litter stashed nearby.

  18. “…charged through a screen door into the house and injuriously manhandled…” looks like the equivalent of rape to me.

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  20. Civil suits will do nothing to solve the problem of police violence. Cops don’t give a shit if the taxpayers have to pay a settlement. Only criminal charges against feral cops will affect their behavior.

    1. This. That lead cop committed multiple felonies.

    2. But maybe the citizens will get sick of paying for aggressive cops and remove qualified immunity. In this fair republic, the people are always and ultimately responsible.

      1. The public loves aggressive cops, until they become victims themselves.

        1. Yeah, I know. It’s hard to convince someone stupid enough to pay a cop to harass them in their own neighborhood that change is in order.

  21. So happy I never went to law school.

    Don’t know how the lawyers live with themselves.

  22. “That cat has qualified immunity when it attacks your children.”, screams the psychotic ??>animal rights<?? mob.

    Next year it'll be Spider Rights getting qualified immunity!

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  25. “U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh III granted his motion for summary judgment.

    Steeh concluded that Vann was justified in entering the home based on “exigent circumstances,” since “it was reasonable for Officer Vann to believe that Barton was armed, and that he was willing to use his weapon to harm the officers or others.” Steeh also concluded that “Officer Vann had probable cause to believe that Barton had violated a local animal cruelty ordinance” and that “Barton fails to create a genuine issue of material fact on his excessive force claim” because he did not present sufficient evidence that Vann injured him during the arrest.”

    This stuff pisses me off so bad. U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh III is a crook and a con artist.

  26. This is another example of overkill on a soft target. The arresting officer comes across as another Roid Raging goof in a UNIFORM.
    Officers with tactical weapons on a 2nd hand report that someone shot a cat with a BB gun, and this is how Police react?
    These 8 officers if the truth were known discussed amongst them selves if they could take out Barton by shooting him, The presence of his mothers in law, and his wife and kids was all that saved his life. Go back and read officers Vans account. What officer Van is saying is virtually identical to what other officers have said to Justify having shot unarmed people in their own homes. Thank God for a sane 6th circuit. The existing legal system leaves police completely unaccountable allowing officer to kill unarmed people just because they want to and are trained to give a whole bunch of suspiciously automatic justifications over the dead body.

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