Under the Fourteenth Amendment, a law enforcement official must have probable cause or a reasonable belief that an individual engaged in a criminal act before making an arrest. Law enforcement officers must also follow the proper procedures during an arrest action.
A Greenville County man hiding inside of a dishwasher at a mobile home community was bitten on his head by a trained K-9 police dog during an arrest. The canine’s attack resulted in severe injuries requiring hospitalization. Body camera footage showed officials searching the mobile homes with the K-9 dog in an attempt to make an arrest and a deputy was heard screaming expletives and threatening a dog attack, as reported by the Greenville News. Because this is an unlawful manner of making an arrest, the department placed the deputy responsible for causing the injuries on administrative leave.
The arrest and its aftermath
While riding his moped the previous day, police allegedly attempted to pull the man over for a traffic stop, but he fled the scene. After a pursuit began, he jumped off his moped and ran away, which prompted a search by the deputies and their K-9.
The man’s charges included resisting arrest and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The court dismissed the charges, however, as part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to failure to stop for a blue light from a prior arrest and possession of methamphetamine. He then sued the Sheriff’s Office for his unlawful arrest, which resulted in an award of $230,000.
Filing a lawsuit for an unlawful arrest
An unlawful or false arrest may result in a civil action against a city, state or government agency. A man charged with assaulting law enforcement officials, for example, filed a lawsuit against a South Carolina city and its police force. According to the U.S. News & World Report, he alleges it was a case of wrongful arrest and false imprisonment. He spent four months in jail in spite of evidence that he did not hit an officer as accused.
South Carolina residents have due process rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. There must be sufficient evidence of committing a crime and law enforcement must also follow proper procedures when lawfully placing an individual under arrest.