Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Hunch" That Civil Rights Plaintiff Had More Info Did Not Provide Probable Cause to Arrest

Manzanares v. Higdon, -- F.3d --, #07-2156 (10th Cir. 8/10/09) - Albuquerque police officers went to Manzanares' home to get info re: an acquaintance of his that they suspected had committed a reported rape. Manzanares invited them in, gave them some info, then asked them to go. Instead they handcuffed him. He later told them he would show them where the acquaintance lived. Officers loaded him in handcuffs in the squad car, drove him to the suspect's home, and detained him in the car there for more than three hours.

The COA finds unreasonable the officers' excuse for failing to terminate the consensual encounter and leave--that they reasonably suspected Manzanares was obstructing an officer. Officers' unsubstantiated hunch that Manzanares knew more than he was saying did not constitute probable cause. Officers also lacked probable cause to detain Manzanares as a witness to prevent him from alerting the acquaintance of the investigation. Any reasonable officer would have known probable cause was needed to stay in Manzanares' home after he withdrew consent. The COA concludes Manzanares was arrested without probable cause while handcuffed and confined in the squad car outside the friend's home. Manzanares clearly established his constitutional rights were violated and no reasonable jury could have concluded otherwise. Case is remanded for entry of judgment for Manzanares and a new trial on damages.