SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The 9th Circuit has issued an amended opinion agreeing to rehear claims against Internal Revenue Service agents who allegedly handcuffed an 11-year-old at gunpoint while executing an arrest warrant on his parents, both suspected drug dealers.
Ephraim Tekle and his mother, Lily Tekle, sued five IRS agents for false arrest, assault, battery and mental distress after he unwittingly stepped outside to take out the trash and found 23 agents surrounding his home.
An officer ordered the barefoot, T-shirt-clad minor to “turn around and put (his) hands in the air,” but Tekle fled back to the house through the garage, not realizing they were speaking to him. The agent repeated the order, and Tekle complied. Ordering Tekle to lie facedown on the driveway, another officer held a gun to his head, searched him, cuffed him and moved him to the sidewalk while agents arrested the boy’s father.
The circuit found that “the need for force, if any, was minimal at best,” since Tekle was young, unarmed, cooperative and “vastly outnumbered.” He also wasn’t the subject of the search warrant, nor did he pose an immediate threat, resist arrest or try to run. The court concluded that a jury could find his treatment and detention unreasonable. See ruling.