Bell v. Neukirch, No. 19-1713 (8th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against his arresting officers and others, alleging claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Fourth Amendment, after the officers seized him without probable cause.
The Eighth Circuit held that the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff, would support a finding that the arresting officers violated plaintiff's clearly established right to be free from an unreasonable seizure without probable cause under the circumstances. In this case, about seven minutes after a black juvenile male with a gun fled from police in Kansas City, officers arrested plaintiff a mile away from the scene. Plaintiff and the suspect shared only generic characteristics in common: black, juvenile, and male. However, plaintiff had several characteristics distinct from the suspect: he was taller than the suspect; had distinguishable hair from the suspect; and wore shorts, shoes, and socks that differed from those donned by the suspect. Furthermore, these distinctions are depicted on a police video recording that the arresting officers reviewed. Plaintiff was in custody for three weeks before a detective reviewed the video and concluded that plaintiff was not the offender. Therefore, the district court erred in granting qualified immunity to the arresting officers where no reasonable officer could have believed that probable cause existed to arrest plaintiff based on the plainly exculpatory evidence available to them. The district court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the remaining defendants and remanded for further proceedings.