Suing The Police Just Became A Bit Easier

Apr 15 2022

A New York man was living with his wife, newborn baby and sister-in-law. The sister-in-law had a history of mental illness, which was likely responsible for a 911 call she made. During the call, the sister-in-law claimed the man was abusing his child.

Emergency medical technicians arrived at the home, but the man believed they had the wrong address. He was not aware the sister-in-law had called the police. After temporarily leaving, the EMTs returned to the home with law enforcement officers. The man refused to allow the police to enter without a warrant, so officers arrested him.

Prosecutors drop charges

After the police arrested the man, EMTs took the baby to the hospital. The only diagnosable injury to the child was diaper rash, a common ailment among infants that typically has nothing to do with abuse. Prosecutors still charged the man with obstruction of justice and resisting arrest.

According to reporting from NPR, prosecutors offered the man a plea deal, which he rightfully refused to accept. Then, prosecutors dropped the criminal charges without explaining their decision. This led the New York man to file a lawsuit for malicious prosecution.

Supreme Court allows the suit

A lower court determined the man could not proceed with the lawsuit because a judge or jury did not affirm his innocence. In a 6-3 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed. The case is Thompson v. Clark.

Rather than requiring affirmed innocence, the law only demands a plaintiff show the prosecution concluded without a conviction. This precedent-setting opinion should make it easier for individuals to sue the police for misconduct.

Ultimately, if you believe you have been the victim of malicious prosecution or other official bad acts, you may have a more direct way to pursue financial compensation.

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