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Supreme Court to Hear D.C. Police Case that Held Officers Liable for Damages
Police Argue to Supreme Court Against Personal Liability
The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a District of Columbia case that tests the immunity from prosecution of police accused of making a wrongful arrest.
The case resulted from the arrests of 21 people during a raucous 2008 party at an unoccupied residence in Anacostia that appeared to have been turned into a strip club.
Lawsuits filed by 16 of the partygoers resulted in a nearly $1 million judgment against the city and police officers Andre Parker and Anthony Campanale.
The partygoers said they were invited to the house by a woman they thought was the owner who used the name Peaches. D.C. prosecutors did not file charges against them.
In addition to the immunity issue for the police officers, the Supreme Court said it would decide whether there was probable cause for the arrests.
A U.S. District Court judge’s ruling against the police said the partygoers did not know they were trespassing.
The partygoers won a $680,000 damages award and the police officers were ordered to pay their attorneys fees. A divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the award.
Conservative appeals court Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, who disagreed the officers should be held liable, said they made an honest mistake while carrying out their normal duties.
D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine wrote in his petition to the Supreme Court that making the officers liable did not reflect the real world in which police officers function.
The case is District of Columbia v. Wesby.