Cops May Be Held Liable for Outrageous Behavior

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A Bay Area man can advance civil rights claims that police officers roughed him up outside their jurisdiction, a federal magistrate ruled.
     Jonathan Linder sued the city of Emeryville, the Emeryville Police Department and its chief Ken James, as well as Officer Andrew Cassianos and two other officers earlier this year. The action stemmed from April 27, 2012, incident involving Linder and Cassianos at the Emeryville Marina.
     According to Linder’s complaint, Cassianos ordered Linder and his friends to leave the fire pit area of the marina, which is under the jurisdiction of the harbormaster and not the city of Emeryville. When Linder questioned Cassianos’ authority, the officer called for backup and a scuffle ensued.
     In the end, Cassianos and the other officers allegedly “violently assaulted and battered Linder and swiftly elevated the attack to include the use of multiple instances of lethal force and brutality, including assaults by multiple officers, several shootings with taser guns, pistol whipping and a willful and wanton attempt to maim Linder while he was handcuffed facedown in a hogtie position.”
     After nearly breaking Linder’s ankle while hogtying him, Linder officers then transported him to a hospital where he waited over six hours for an ankle brace, according to the complaint. Linder said police next charged him resisting arrest, three counts of battery on a police officer and vandalism and took him to jail.
     Linder allegedly spent 96 hours being shuffled from one detention center to another – including 15 hours in a courtroom holding cell – before being told the charges against him had been dropped.
     Linder sued for violations of his civil rights, assault and battery, and violations of federal anti-racketeering law. The Emeryville defendants filed several motions to dismiss and also objected to allowing the self-represented Linder to amend his complaint into a proper format.
     U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Laporte agreed last week that Linder’s RICO claims were improper, since “government entities cannot be held liable for RICO because they are incapable of forming the malicious intent required in a RICO action.” She also noted that immunity granted to police officers by California law essentially precludes Linder’s malicious prosecution claim.
     All defendants must nevertheless face Linder’s false imprisonment actions, Laporte ruled.
     “Plaintiff alleges that the officers were outside of their jurisdiction because the dock was leased to the Marina and under the control of the harbor master, who had given plaintiff permission to remain in the dock,” the 10-page opinion states. “Therefore, plaintiff alleges that there was no probable cause to arrest him. Furthermore, he alleges that he was imprisoned for four days, and that he suffered damages, including emotional distress. Although defendants disagree with these allegations, for the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true. Therefore, plaintiff sufficiently pled false arrest.”
     Additionally, while the magistrate dismissed several causes of action against Officers Thompson and Shepherd and Chief James – giving Linder the chance to amend – Cassianos, the city of Emeryville and its police department were less lucky.
     Laporte gave Linder until Aug. 19 to fix the issues with his complaint.
     Last month, the son of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton filed a federal complaint against Emeryville and Oakland Police Departments for harassment, battery and false imprisonment after officers allegedly detained them at gunpoint in a crowded Target parking lot. Police believed Fred Hampton Jr. and his friends were in possession of a stolen cellphone, but made no attempt determine if they had the cellphone at all after making the stop, according to the complaint.

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