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COA rules police can act reasonably to control investigation scene

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Police were justified in handcuffing a woman who they felt was a safety risk inside her home during an investigation, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

In Marvelean Williams v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1105-CR-418, the court affirmed a decision by Marion Superior Judge Barbara Collins involving a woman arrested in January 2011. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers were dispatched to the home of Marvelean Williams to investigate a domestic disturbance. They arrested her husband for battery, and Williams became belligerent and refused to follow orders to stay seated. When she tried to go into the kitchen, police were concerned she might try to get a knife or weapon, so they placed her in handcuffs for their safety. She resisted and was charged with resisting law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor. At a bench trial she was found guilty.

On appeal, Williams argues that there is insufficient evidence that the officers were lawfully engaged in execution of their duties when they were inside the home. She doesn’t claim the police were unlawfully inside and doesn’t dispute their investigation of a domestic dispute, but she contends that they didn’t have the authority to order her to stop resisting and stay calm.  Although a previous Court of Appeals ruling from 2007 doesn’t discuss the extent of an officer’s power to control the scene while conducting an investigation, the appellate panel found this situation with Williams presented more of a safety risk than that case. The court found she was actively interfering with their investigation, and they had a right to restrain her.

“Williams has not cited any authority to convince us that the officers acted unlawfully when they handcuffed her for safety reasons while they conducted their investigation, and we are not aware of any such authority,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. “Police have a legal right to take reasonable steps to stabilize a situation such as this during the course of their investigation. This is so for both the safety of the officers as well as the citizens present.”

 

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  1. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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