POLICE Magazine

MAY 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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40 P O L I C E M AY 2 019 I n 1986 the Supreme Court set a standard for officers with respect to arrest warrant affidavits. e standard set by SCOTUS in Malley v Briggs has re- mained with us for over 30 years and the case is still often cited to this day. In this case, the Supreme Court affirmed a First Circuit decision denying quali- fied immunity to a detective who had drafted an arrest warrant affidavit that was later found to be lacking probable cause. e Supreme Court determined that while Qualified Immunity generally protects "all but the plainly incompetent," it is still the officer's responsibili- ty—not the reviewing magistrate's or the prosecutor's—to bring forward an affidavit with the requisite level of facts to support probable cause. at 33-year-old case is still in effect. But now let's bring this discussion into the present by looking at a 2019 case out of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. is case provides precedent for those of you in the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin and should provide guidance to those of you outside of the Seventh Circuit. In Rainsberger v. Benner, the Seventh Circuit was faced with a case alleging that a detective had embellished inculpatory facts learned during a homicide investigation and failed to include exculpatory facts also learned during the investigation. THE CASE William Rainsberger was the primary caregiver for his 88-year-old mother Ruth, who was suffering from dementia. His brother Robert and sister Rebecca also helped to care for Ruth. On the afternoon of Nov. 19, 2013, the plaintiff went to his mother's apartment and found her lying on the floor with a blanket partial- ly covering her face and head. She was barely breathing and there was a circle of dried blood on the blankets and con- gealed blood on the floor by her head. William called 911, and when paramed- ics arrived, he explained that someone had "caved his mother's head in." Paramedics attended to the mother but she later died at the hospital. Wil- liam called his brother Robert and both spoke with Det. Benner who arrived on the scene. e detective noted that the front door and lock had not been dam- aged. He also noted there was some cash and a checkbook still in the apart- ment but medications and the victim's pocketbook were missing. Both brothers then went to the station where they gave statements and Det. Benner spoke with the sister the follow- ing day. A week later the detective asked all three siblings to come to the station to review the autopsy re- sults. However, when the three siblings arrived the detective accused them of killing their mother and requested they take a poly- graph. All three refused and left the station. A week later, after obtaining legal counsel, the two brothers returned to the station and submitted to being finger- printed and having buccal swabs taken. e detective submitted an arrest warrant applica- tion prior to learning the DNA results, and the pros- ecutor refused to pursue it absent additional informa- tion. Shortly thereafter, the DNA results came back. e DNA collected from PHOTO: GET T Y IMAGES JUST THE FACTS EMBELLISHING THE TRUTH ON AN AFFIDAVIT IS A GOOD WAY TO BE HELD LIABLE FOR DAMAGES IN A LAWSUIT. H ERIC DAIGLE POINT OF L AW

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