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Police Officer's Qualified Immunity From Suit - Reasonableness is Key

NCJ Number
Crime to Court Volume: lice Officer's Handbook (February 1999) Issue: Dated: Pages: 1-13
J C Coleman
Date Published
13 pages
After money laundering and drug trafficking charges were unsuccessfully prosecuted by Richland County, South Carolina, officials against a defendant, the defendant sued three sheriff's deputies for arresting him and pressing charges against him without probable cause, and the district court denied the qualified immunity claim of deputies.
The case involved suspected drug dealing at a car dealership in which the defendant was reportedly involved. After monitoring a drug transaction that was not actually completed, sheriff deputies concluded they had probable cause to arrest the defendant for money laundering and cocaine trafficking. The defendant was arrested and later released on bond. Several months later, a grand jury indicted the defendant on one count of drug trafficking and two counts of money laundering, but he was convicted of only one count of money laundering. He successfully appealed his conviction, arguing the sheriff deputies acted unlawfully in arresting him. Nonetheless, the sheriff deputies appeared to be amply justified in believing the defendant was involved in criminal activity by attempting to sell a car for cash and drugs. The lawsuit against the sheriff deputies was dismissed because they were entitled to qualified immunity in their individual capacities. 3 photographs


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