Goffin v. Ashcraft, No. 18-1430 (8th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Based on a report by the burglary victim, Goffin’s uncle, Officer Ashcraft tried to arrest Goffin for burglary and stealing handguns, bullets, and prescription pain medication. Before the arrest, several witnesses told Ashcraft that Goffin was armed, possibly intoxicated, and dangerous. When Goffin broke free from arrest, fled toward a group of bystanders, and moved as though he was reaching into his waistband, Ashcraft shot him once in the back. Goffin claims (and Ashcraft disputes) that he was patted down by another officer (Hines) just before he fled. The pat-down removed nothing from Goffin; the officer failed to discover that Goffin was carrying a loaded magazine and extra bullets. Officer Hines claims that Goffin fled before he completed the pat-down. Stolen guns were discovered within reach of where Goffin had been sitting in acar, but Goffin did not have a weapon on him.
In Goffin’s suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants. Officer Ashcraft is entitled to qualified immunity because it was not clearly established at the time of the shooting that a pat-down that removes nothing from a suspect eliminates an officer’s probable cause that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm.
Court Description: [Kobes, Author, with Smith, Chief Judge, and Kelly, Circuit Judges] Civil case - Civil rights. The defendant police officer was entitled to qualified immunity on the facts presented because it was not clearly established at the time she shot plaintiff that a pat down search which removes nothing from a suspect eliminates a shooting officer's probable cause that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm. Judge Kelly, dissenting.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on October 15, 2020.