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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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