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Old August 11, 2014, 03:52 PM   #1
HarrySchell
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Creation by the state of imminent danger and failure to protect.

"On April 5, 2008, around 11:00 pm, Albert Vaughn, Jr. … was in the vicinity of 7033 South Throop Street in Chicago, Illinois when an altercation between two groups started in the street. Vaughn left the area before the four police officers who are named as defendants in this suit arrived at the scene.

While the police officers stood between the two groups trying to disperse the crowd, Vaughn returned to the scene in search of his younger brother. Vaughn was carrying a stick to protect himself and joined one of the groups. Upon noticing Vaughn, Officer Robert Cummings drew his gun and pointed it at Vaughn. Meanwhile, the other officer defendants ordered Vaughn to drop the stick. Vaughn complied.

When a man in the opposing group began yelling obscenities at Vaughn, he picked up the stick he had brought to the scene for self-protection. The officer defendants, who were standing within a few feet of Vaughn, once again ordered him to drop the stick. Vaughn complied.

The man who had been shouting obscenities at Vaughn then made his way through the crowd carrying a metal baseball bat. The defendant officers did not order the man to halt or drop the bat as he approached Vaughn. Instead, the officers simply watched as the man clubbed Vaughn in the head with the bat and then fled from the scene. Vaughn was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead."

The finding of the judge was to deny dismissal of the suit against the four Chicago policemen since they created a situation where Vaughn's safety was compromised and then made no effort to intervene when Vaughn was attacked and had no means of self-defense.

I guess this could play into circumstances such as Katrina, where citizens' self-defense was compromised by the seizure of legally held firearms under circumstances in which overall risk was heightened. Probably a stretch, but there is a limit to police interference with an individual's self-defense.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/v...onstitutional/
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Old August 11, 2014, 04:07 PM   #2
JimDandy
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How on earth do they let someone club another person?
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Old August 11, 2014, 05:18 PM   #3
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Kind of like living in Maryland. Only the criminals can carry.
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Old August 11, 2014, 07:39 PM   #4
dogtown tom
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That article seems to state that situation as factual, when its really just one sides view.

That's why its in court.
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Old August 11, 2014, 07:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
I guess this could play into circumstances such as Katrina, where citizens' self-defense was compromised by the seizure of legally held firearms under circumstances in which overall risk was heightened. Probably a stretch, but there is a limit to police interference with an individual's self-defense.
So a man flees the scene of an altercation and then returns with a stick? Sounds like he is coming to kick some but or get some revenge. He sounds much more like a combatant than a guy looking for his brother.

With that said, it in now way excuses the cops for allowing what happened to happen. It is just that these victim stories often portray the deceased as completely innocent do-gooders, rehabees, etc. and usually they are not as golden as claimed.
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Old August 11, 2014, 09:46 PM   #6
KyJim
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This was at the motion to dismiss stage, presumably a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted. The judge must assume all facts asserted in the complaint are true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Thus, the end result may be very different after some discovery.

Still, I'll have to admit I was unaware of any exception to the general rule that police have no duty to protect. The things I do not know . . .
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Old August 11, 2014, 10:49 PM   #7
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyJim
...I'll have to admit I was unaware of any exception to the general rule that police have no duty to protect. The things I do not know . . .
This could present an interesting twist to that.

Of course the general rule has been that the police have no duty to protect a specific individual. But here, at least based on what appear to be the allegations of the complaint, identified police officers took an action with respect to a particular individual which arguable exposed him to a particular, foreseeable risk of harm. He was, there and then, caused harm as a result of that particular, foreseeable risk. Or as Eugene Volokh quotes the judge:
Quote:
...Defendants stress that Vaughn faced substantial danger — namely, the risk that a member of the rival group would attack him — with or without a stick in his hand. This argument falsely assumes that the state-created danger doctrine applies only when state actors turn a safe situation into a dangerous one. In fact, the doctrine also protects individuals against marginal increases in risk — i.e., placing someone who already faces danger in even greater peril.....
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Old August 12, 2014, 08:43 AM   #8
artsmom
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I have always said that no one should be responsible for a problem unless they have the authority and resources to properly address it.

That means the inverse is also true. If someone is is given the authority and resources to handle problems, then they are to be held responsible for handling (or in this case, not handling) the problem. A big swing and a miss by law enforcement on this one.

That being said, no one should expect the police to save your life, health, or wealth. If the police disarmed one guy and not the other, than the unarmed guy should have moved out of harm's way, which is obvious in hindsight.
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Old August 12, 2014, 10:42 AM   #9
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I recall reading about a man arrested for some minor crime, placed in the back of the squad car, and while being transported to the station, the officer got involved in an armed robbery. The man was left in the back of the car. There was some shooting, and a car chase. Man was unhurt, but sued and settled for being placed in danger by the police. Don't recall where this was, but was probably 1980s.
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Old August 12, 2014, 12:23 PM   #10
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If he settled, it doesn't count right? If I sue the state for denying my right to corn flakes for breakfast and they settle, that doesn't actually establish a right to corn flakes for breakfast does it?
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Old August 12, 2014, 01:24 PM   #11
Frank Ettin
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Originally Posted by JimDandy
If he settled, it doesn't count right?...
That is correct.
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Old August 12, 2014, 07:55 PM   #12
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True, but deep-pocketed public attorneys paid by the year don't generally settle such cases without knowing what could happen if it goes to trial, cornflakes notwithstanding.
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Old August 12, 2014, 08:37 PM   #13
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kilimanjaro
True, but deep-pocketed public attorneys paid by the year don't generally settle such cases without knowing what could happen if it goes to trial, cornflakes notwithstanding.
How would you know?

First, the attorney doesn't make the settlement decision. The agency/defendant does, with input from the attorney. Second, even in the public sector there are costs and budgets to be considered. Third litigation takes people, both attorneys and involved agency staff away from other work that needs to be done. Fourth, there is always some level of risk.

So in general settlement decisions are largely economic. If the cost of the settlement makes sense in light of the cost and risk of defending the litigation, settlement is a very attractive prospect.

Sometimes a defendant will have a reason to draw a line in the sand. But most of the time a settlement decision is reached on basic cost/business principles.
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