Johnson v. McCarver, No. 18-1148 (8th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Defendants McCarber and LaLuzerne, alleging that defendants violated his constitutional rights by carrying out an arrest without probable cause and in retaliation for speech, falsifying a police report, using excessive force against him, and conspiring to violate his rights. The district court denied defendants qualified immunity.
The Eighth Circuit held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on the false arrest, retaliatory arrest, and due process claims, because defendants at least had arguable probable cause to arrest plaintiff. In this case, the night club was closed, the lead security guard told plaintiff that he was no longer allowed in the club and needed to leave, and plaintiff admitted that he did not leave promptly after receiving defendants' instructions to exit. Even if plaintiff initially had a right to wait in the lobby, the court held that a reasonable officer could have believed that the guard or defendants themselves revoked that right by asking plaintiff to leave. Furthermore, the court held that plaintiff was not deprived of liberty after his trial. Finally, the court held that defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on the excessive force claims involving pushing and applying pepper spray, but were not entitled to qualified immunity to use tasers where it was clearly established that it was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment to apply a taser to a nonviolent, suspected misdemeanant who was not fleeing or resisting arrest, and who posed little to no threat to anyone's safety.