Peterson v. Kopp, et al., No. 12-3776 (8th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against a public transit officer and Metropolitan Council under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the officer violated plaintiff's constitutional rights when the officer arrested plaintiff at a downtown bus stop. The court concluded that the officer had at least arguable probable cause for the arrest based on plaintiff's nonverbal conduct and the officer was entitled to qualified immunity from plaintiff's unlawful arrest claim; though the court agreed that the use of force in this case may have been unreasonable, and acknowledged that plaintiff described being pepper sprayed as a painful experience, plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence that he suffered more than de minimus injury; therefore, the officer was entitled to qualified immunity on the excessive force claim; the officer was entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's retaliatory arrest claim because the officer had at least arguable probable cause for the arrest; but the officer was not entitled to summary judgment based on qualified immunity from plaintiff's retaliatory use of force claim where plaintiff's First Amendment right to make comments and to obtain the officer's badge number was not clearly established at the time. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.