Friday, June 20, 2014

Wrong house? No problem. Officer gets qualified immunity.

Wigley v. City of Albuquerque, 2014 WL 2503756 (6/4/14) (N.M.) (unpub'd) - The 10th affirms the district court's ruling that qualified immunity applied to an Albuquerque Police Department SWAT member. There was no clearly established law requiring that the officer, who did not initiate the search of the Wigleys' home, had a duty to read the warrant or affidavit he was executing and then assess whether he should detain and handcuff the Wigleys. The warrant was for robbery suspects, body armor and a gun. The affidavit indicated the confidential informant said the gun had been moved to some other house. It didn't matter that the informant had identified the wrong house and a deputy sheriff said he knew as soon as they got there that it was the wrong house, but the officers searched and detained for an hour or more. There was no evidence the particular officer in question knew about the deputy's assessment or played any role in deciding how long to detain people. Troubling but irrelevant to the holding: officers put a 5-year-old child in a patrol car with the child's handcuffed, baby-sitting grandparents, but refused to tell the child's parents for 45 minutes after they arrived where their child was.