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Monday, May 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Court Rules for Officers|in False Arrest Case

(CN) - Three Nebraska police officers did not violate the constitutional rights of a mildly mentally disabled man by arresting him on charges that he had sex with a 15-year-old girl and hit the girl's sister, the 8th Circuit ruled. The man sued after the charges were dropped.

Beemer resident Jeffrey Marksmeier sued officers Randy Davie, Mark Delmont and Lonnie Schultz, claiming the arrest violated his Fourth and 14th Amendment rights.

The 8th Circuit in St. Louis ruled unanimously that the officers had probable cause to arrest Marksmeier, because they believed he had sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl, "JP," and had hit her sister, "SP."

Marksmeier, then 23, was interrogated by Davie and Delmont at the local police department in early 2007.

His admission that he had sex with JP did not appear on a recording of the interview because of gap between tape changes. However, Delmont took a written statement and Marksmeier initialed it.

Circuit Judge Bobby Shepherd, writing for the three-judge panel, said the evidence demonstrated that Delmont did not fabricate the confession.

"Having reviewed the tapes of the interrogation and Deputy Delmont's notes taken during the interrogation, we cannot find that there is a genuine dispute over whether Marksmeier admitted having sexual contact with JP, a minor," the judge wrote.

"A considerable amount of the interrogation involved allegations of sexual activity, and Marksmeier demonstrated no difficulty in understanding the context of those questions."

Shepherd continued: "Marksmeier's repeated admissions to hitting SP, which were captured by the recording, also provided probable cause to justify the warrantless arrest."

The court threw out the rest of Marksmeier's claims, including his assertion that his civil rights were violated because he did not receive a probable-cause hearing until Jan. 25, more than 48 hours after his arrest.

But Shepherd ruled that an affidavit mistakenly listed the arrest date as Jan. 23 instead of Jan. 24, so there was no constitutional violation under the Fourth Amendment.

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