Appellate Court Upholds Qualified Immunity for Police Officer
Successfully defended an appeal on behalf of a police officer before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. In this civil rights case, the plaintiff alleged malicious prosecution, a violation of §1983, in connection with his arrest in a shooting investigation. The arresting officer was the investigator of the shooting and during that investigation, the officer received information from an informant that the arrestee was bragging about having shot someone. Based on that information, the investigating officer created a photo array line-up of six individuals. The shooting victim identified the arrestee as the man who shot him. Later, in connection with a separate investigation, the arresting officer obtained information suggesting that the arrestee may not have, in fact, been the shooter, but suggested that another man was. The arresting officer created another line-up, which included this other man, and the victim confirmed that he was the actual shooter. Based on that identification, the arrestee was released and later filed the malicious prosecution action. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the District Court below, holding that, at the time the arrest was made, there was sufficient evidence based on the initial identification from the photo line-up, as well as the informant's information, to establish probable cause to arrest and that, therefore, the plaintiff had no viable case for malicious prosecution. Although the plaintiff raised issues concerning the validity of the photo line-up and other additional claims, the Third Circuit found none of them to be sufficiently viable to reverse the decision that probable cause existed and that, therefore, the arresting officer had the protection of qualified immunity.