Police responding to a domestic violence call weren’t legally exercising their duties when they entered the alleged perpetrator’s house without his consent, used a Taser on him and charged him with resisting law enforcement, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.
Dereck D. Hendricks was in his home he shared with Eteria Jackson, who had called police and told them Hendricks had choked her. She was outside the home, and police advised her not to return until they were on the scene of their Indianapolis home in the early-morning hours of June 2, 2015.
Hendricks refused to allow police inside when they arrived. He said they weren’t needed and asked them to leave. When Jackson arrived, she unlocked the front door, pointed at Hendricks and said “that’s him right there,” according to the record.
Police went inside and struggled with Hendricks before using a Taser on him and placing him in handcuffs. He was convicted of Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement in a bench trial before Marion Superior Judge Rebekah F. Pierson-Treacy.
The panel reversed Hendricks’ conviction in a memorandum decision that cited the “Castle Doctrine” enacted in I.C. 35-41-3-2 after the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision in Barnes v. State, 953 N.E.2d 473 (Ind. 2011).
Judge Paul Mathias wrote that there was no evidence that Jackson had been harmed, she was uncooperative with the arresting officer, and Hendricks was not charged with domestic battery. This led the panel to unanimously conclude that after the officers’ entry into the home, they were not lawfully engaged in the execution of their duties.
“Jackson was not inside the home when the officers arrived, and the officers did not need to enter the home to protect her,” Mathias wrote. ”The officers had no other information that some other person inside the home, either an adult or child, was in need of police assistance. The officers simply had no reason to enter the home without a warrant.”
The case is Dereck D. Hendricks v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.), 49A04-1510-CR-1558.