The People Vs. Arrest and Seizures

michael-moore-alabama
Photo Credit: FOX10 News

The Case of Michael Moore

Four times. That’s how many times an off duty officer of Mobile, Alabama shot and killed Michael Moore. He was as young as nineteen years old and driving through the neighborhood with two of his friends. The off-duty officer stopped Moore for a traffic violation and discovered Moore did not have his driver’s license (Brantley, Knowles, & Peck). The officer proceeded to ask Moore to step out of his vehicle. The officer and Moore got into a confrontation while the officer noticed Moore had a firearm located in his waistband (2016). Moore stepped out the vehicle with his cellphone in his hand. That is when the officer fired his first shot at Moore. Moore then fell to the ground, and the officer believed he was reaching for his gun, so he shot him four more times. Once additional officers arrived, they handcuffed the victim. The police stated about this incident that it is standard procedure to handcuff and injured suspect.

Arrest, Seizures, and Stops

According to our textbook, the term arrest is defined as someone who commits a crime and is taken into custody by law enforcement (Harr, Hess, Orthmann, & Kingsbury). An arrest must be made if a crime is committed in the presence of law enforcement, if a felony has probable cause, or if there is a warrant for someone’s arrest. For someone to be considered “under arrest,” that person has to be detained by the police, and they will not be free to go (2014). Due to the Fourth Amendment, searches and seizures must dictate and correspond with the offense. A search is described as any examination of someone’s personal belonging. This may include a house, a car, or even the person itself (2014). The sole purpose of the search is to determine if there is any evidence that can be used in a criminal investigation. A seizure is when law enforcement confiscates anything that is relevant evident to a crime. Any search or seizure must be determined by probable cause(2014).

Chapter 7 describes a stop as briefly detaining someone due to reasonable suspicious activity. During this stop, someone’s liberty is temporarily infringed.  There are distinct differences between a stop and arrest. A stop is justified by reasonable suspicion, while an arrest is warranted by probable cause. A warrant is not required for a stop while it is preferred for an arrest. The officer’s intent for a stop is to investigate suspicious activity. On the other hand, an officer’s intent for an arrest is to make a formal change. A conducted search for a stop involves a pat down for weapons. A conducted search for an arrest requires a full search for arms and evidence. During a stop, law enforcement will scope your outer clothing. During an arrest, law enforcement will scope the outer area that is within a suspect’s immediate control. Minimal notes are included in an officer’s records during a stop. But for an arrest law enforcement will include records of the suspects fingerprints, photographs, and booking (2014).

Different Perceptions of Probable Cause

Each state has their own rules and regulations for making an arrest due to probable cause which is also known as a state’s statute. Every state has different restrictions determining if an officer can make an arrest for a misdemeanor if the crime is not committed in their presence. In some countries, the officer must have a warrant to make an arrest. In 2001 the case of Atwater v. The city of Lago Vista, the court banned cops from making an arrest without a warrant, for a suspect that committed a misdemeanor. But some exceptions allow law enforcement to have the authority to make an arrest if the crime is not committed in their presence. These exceptions include the suspect fleeing if they conceal or destroy evidence and if a traffic accident is involved. But states like Minnesota will allow you to make an arrest for unwitnessed misdemeanors like domestic assault, driving while under the influence, and shoplifting. An officer may also make an arrest if they suspect someone of committing the crime.

The Reasonableness of Force

            During a tense and rapidly evolving situation, police officers have the authority to make a judgment on the reasonableness of force used. This does not mean that officers must use the least amount of force possible. The courts believe there are only several reasons that apply to these circumstances. They include the severity of the issue, if there is a threat to the officers or other people, or whether the suspect is resisting or trying to escape.  The force is classified as “reasonable” if the need for is lawful. During an arrest, an officer can only use as much reasonable force to manage the suspect’s compliance and overcome resistance. If the force is excessive, it may cause the officer’s job and legal actions.

Use of Excessive Force

In incidents leading up today the “use of excessive force” is so common. There are so many cases where people are victims of excessive force from the police. From cases like the Michael Moore when the officer felt the need to shoot Moore four times even after he was already on the ground. To cases with Alton Sterling who was pinned to the grown by several officers for selling C.D’s at a convenience store, but was still shot in the chest several times. In these examples and more one of the most important factors that involved the death of these victims, was the amount of excessive force that the policeman used. I feel like the actions of these officers were uncalled for. In Sterling’s case, the officer was not present to make an arrest, and from the video evidence, it did not seem as though neither officer was in danger. Too many officers are shooting first and asking questions later, which is creating a negative stereotype for all policeman.

In conclusion, I believe for the safety of police and the community, law enforcement should review the terms of reasonable force. Too many lives are stake because the community already has this perception that we shouldn’t trust law enforcement or allow them to do their job. So we build up a guard and immediately become defensive. The lives of a policeman and the people in our community are being taken away from their families because everyone is in an uproar of these unnecessary incidents.

References

Harr , J. Hess, K. M., Orthmann, C. M., & Kingsbury, J. (2014). Constitutional Law and the

Criminal Justice System (6th ed.). Stamford: Cengage Learning. 195-233.

Brantley, M., Knowles, A., & Peck, L. (2016). MPD Chief: Michael Moore tried to gain

access to gun in waistband. Fox10 News.

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