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false arrest

Nurse Arrested for Not Drawing Coma Patient’s Blood for Police

National news outlets have been reporting the sensational story of a Salt Lake City, Utah nurse who was arrested after refusing the command of a police officer to draw the blood of a comatose patient for an investigation. Fortunately for Alex Wubbels, the nurse involved in the incident, police body cameras recorded the entire event. The nurse cited the hospital policy of requiring a patient's consent, a warrant, or an intent to arrest, before drawing blood for police. When the officer insisted on getting the blood draw done despite not satisfying any of these conditions, Wubbels refused and was then arrested on the spot. What Happened Here? Surprisingly, the coma patient, a truck driver, whom the police were seeking a blood draw from is an innocent victim. Police were chasing a fleeing suspect, when that suspecting crashed head on into the truck driver's big rig, resulting in a fiery crash. The suspect died at the scene, while the truck driver survived, but fell into a coma. The police, in conducting a thorough investigation, were seeking a blood sample from the truck driver to rule out any liability on his end (note: police may not have a legal right to this sample thanks to the Fourth Amendment's protections). The body camera footage clearly shows nurse Wubbels explaining the policy to the officer in charge, and then the officer losing his cool, grabbing her, cuffing her, and forcefully pulling her out of the hospital. During the ordeal, Wubbels can be heard yelling that she did nothing wrong, and that the officer is hurting her. Fortunately, when the superior officer arrived at the scene, she was released. It was explained to the officer that the hospital already took a blood draw, but that they would not release it without proper legal authorization. The city's administration has been extraordinarily embarrassed, issued apologies, and has stated that it is committed to changing policies to prevent this from happening again. The arresting officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation into his actions (though the report he filed asserts his superior instructed him to arrest Wubbels). What's the Claim? When officers of law cross the line in performing their duties, both the officers, individually, and the municipality, state, or other government entity can be held liable. Generally, under federal law, 42 USC 1983 protects individuals from police misconduct, including false arrest or excessive force. There may also be claims under state laws, depending on the state where the incident occurred. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) How Does the iPhone's New 'Cop Button' Work? (FindLaw Blotter) NY DMV Busts 4k Fraudsters With Facial Recognition Tech (FindLaw Blotter) Criminal Charges Following Violence, Death in Charlottesville (FindLaw Blotter)
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Man Arrested, Strip Searched for Photographing Cops Gets $125K

A man who was arrested and strip searched after taking photographs of New York City Police Department officers has reached a $125,000 settlement with the city. Dick George filed a federal lawsuit against the city for police misconduct after being arrested for disorderly conduct in 2012, reports the New York Daily News. According to the lawsuit, George was arrested for documenting the officers' "stop-and-frisk" search of three youths. Why was George's arrest likely a violation of his civil rights? Injured? Exercise your legal rights. Get in touch with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area today. Right to Videotape, Photograph Police on Duty Courts have generally found that citizens have a First Amendment right to videotape or photograph police activity occurring in a public place. Furthermore, police generally cannot confiscate or demand to see your footage or photographs without a warrant. In this case, George claims that he was in his car when he saw three young people being searched by NYPD officers. He began taking pictures with his cell phone from inside his car. After the officers had finished searching the youths, George claims he instructed the youths to get the officers' badge numbers next time they were searched. Overhearing this, the officers allegedly pulled George from his car and arrested him for disorderly conduct. The officers also allegedly deleted the pictures on George's phone. False Arrest, Police Misconduct Lawsuits Lawsuits against police for false arrest and other incidents of police misconduct are generally filed under the Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. Under Section 1983, a victim of malicious or unlawful police action can bring a lawsuit in federal court for deprivation of a constitutional right. Although these lawsuits can be brought against individual police officers, they often name the city as a party as well, since the police department itself cannot be sued directly. However, before a lawsuit is filed, victims typically must first file a tort claim to give the government entity a chance to respond. If you believe you have been the victim of police misconduct or false arrest, an experienced civil rights attorney can help explain your legal options. Related Resources: New York man wins $125,000 settlement after being arrested for photographing police (The Verge) Videotaping Police is Your First Amendment Right (FindLaw's Blotter) Journalist Arrested for Recording Police Gets $200K Settlement (FindLaw's Injured) For the Record, SCOTUS Won't Stop Citizens from Recording Police (FindLaw's U.S. Seventh Circuit Blog)
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Ryan Ferguson Files $100M Civil Rights Lawsuit

Ryan Ferguson's attorney has filed a $100 million civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Missouri man wrongly convicted and imprisoned for nearly a decade. As you may recall, Ferguson, 29, was freed in November after spending more than eight years in prison for the murder of Missouri newspaper editor Kent Heitholt in 2001. The court overturned his conviction because the case was rife with evidentiary problems. On the 10th anniversary of his arrest, Ferguson is at the center of a legal dispute again, but this time as a victim in a civil lawsuit. Civil Lawsuit Filed Ryan Ferguson's lawsuit takes aim at the unlawful way authorities conducted their investigation and case. Ferguson's attorney Kathleen Zellner filed the suit against 12 defendants -- including individuals (cops, investigators, and attorneys) as well as the Columbia Police Department, the city of Columbia, Boone County, and the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Among the lawsuit's numerous claims are allegations of: Destruction and/or suppression of exculpatory evidence, Fabrication of evidence, Reckless or intentional failure to investigate, Malicious prosecution, Conspiracy to deprive constitutional rights, Failure to intervene, False arrest, Defamation, and Indemnification. None of the DNA collected at the scene, or the footprints and fingerprints, matched Ferguson; however, jurors unanimously convicted Ferguson by relying on the testimony of two witnesses. Those two witnesses later confessed to lying under the oath, according to the suit. In addition, details surfaced that prosecutors repeatedly failed to disclose exculpatory evidence -- evidence that could have helped Ferguson and may have changed the outcome of the case. There are also reports that the wife of the key witness was intimidated and coerced by authorities who were overly zealous about obtaining a conviction, St. Louis' KSDK-TV reports. Different Types of Damages The lawsuit asks for actual damages of $75 million and punitive damages of $25 million. Actual damages are awarded to compensate for actual losses (also called "compensatory damages"). The amount awarded is based on the proven harm, loss, or injury suffered by the plaintiff. The actual damages award does not include punitive damages, which may be awarded when a defendant's actions are especially reckless or malicious. Punitive damages are awarded in cases of serious or malicious wrongdoing to punish or deter the wrongdoer or deter others from behaving similarly. Considering the level of misconduct alleged and the number of involved parties, Ferguson is certainly poised well to obtain a hefty settlement from his wrongful conviction. Related Resources: Attorney for wrongly convicted Ryan Ferguson files $100M lawsuit (CBS News) Ryan Ferguson vs. State of Missouri (FindLaw) Man Framed for Murder by N.Y. Cop Gets $6.4M (FindLaw's Injured) How Do You Get a Conviction Vacated? (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Woman Jailed for Recording Deputy Plans to Sue

A Florida woman plans to sue the Broward County Sheriff's Office after she was forced to spend a night in jail for recording a deputy during a traffic stop. Brandy Berning, 33, began recording Lt. William O'Brien when she was pulled over for driving alone in a carpool lane. After a dispute over the recording, in which O'Brien told Berning she'd "just committed a felony," Berning was arrested and spent one night in jail, the Sun-Sentinel reports. She was never charged with any crime. The case highlights an issue people often wonder about: Is it legal to record law-enforcement officers during traffic stops? And if so, can you sue when that right is violated? Recording Police at Traffic Stops Generally speaking, you have a First Amendment right to film an officer during a traffic stop. However, you can't stall or interfere with an officer's investigation. Shoving a camera or an iPhone in a cop's face during a traffic stop may be enough to get you arrested for obstructing an officer. In addition, Florida is a "two-consent" state, the Sun-Sentinel explains. That means both parties are required to know about the recording. In Berning's case, she recorded about 15 seconds of her conversation with O'Brien before informing him that she was filming their encounter. If you find yourself in a similar situation and wish to record an officer at a traffic stop, make sure you're in the legal clear and consider these tips: Before you hit the record button, tell the police you are recording them; Keep your camera out of the way (low and close to your body); and If necessary, calmly remind the officers of your right to film them. Again, if you're not interfering with the officers' investigation, you have a right to record police performing their duties. Suing Police Over Recording If officers confiscate your phone or camera, or if they arrest you for lawfully recording your traffic stop, it's best not to get combative (which can lead to charges if things get out of hand). Instead, remember the details of what the officers did, as you could potentially sue the police for violating your constitutional rights. (Note, however, that there is a legal process in place for suing law-enforcement officers and agencies.) In this case, Berning plans to file a lawsuit against the sheriff's office because O'Brien allegedly told her she was committing a felony, demanded she hand over her phone, grabbed and sprained her wrist, and placed her under arrest. The most extreme issue is her spending the night in jail. Berning could potentially claim a host of civil rights violations, including false arrest, false imprisonment, and excessive force. A spokesman for the sheriff's office declined to comment about the incident, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Related Resources: Woman who recorded traffic stop spends night in jail (Miami's WPLG-TV) Deaf Man Sues Over Police Beating, Taser Use (FindLaw's Injured) NYPD Interrogated Boy, 7, for 10 Hours: $250M Claim (FindLaw's Injured) Browse Civil Rights Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)
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