Sauceda v. City of San Benito, et al, No. 19-40904 (5th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
San Benito police officer Hector Lopez approached Plaintiff while Plaintiff was standing in the front yard of his property. Lopez pushed open the gate into Plaintiff’s yard. Plaintiff told Lopez he needed a warrant and pushed back. Within seconds, the parties physically struggled, with the fifty-year-old, disabled Plaintiff brought to the ground. Plaintiff was taken into custody and, after receiving medical attention for his injuries, was charged with several offenses. All were dismissed. He now seeks recompense from Defendants Lopez and the City of San Benito for false arrest and excessive force. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants.
The Fifth Circuit concluded that Plaintiff had raised genuine issues of material fact as to his claim for false arrest against Lopez. The court reversed and remanded concerning the false arrest claim. The court otherwise affirmed. The court explained that because the hot pursuit exception does not apply (and because Lopez has not identified any other applicable exception to the warrant requirement), Plaintiff has raised genuine issues of fact as to whether Lopez had the authority to enter his property to arrest him for disorderly conduct. Further, the court wrote that its conclusion that Lopez lacked authority to make a warrantless entry onto Plaintiff’s property applies equal force to Lopez’s argument that he could have entered the property to arrest Plaintiff or failed to identify. Moreover, a rational factfinder could determine that Lopez arrested Plaintiff before Plaintiff applied any resistance.