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United States v. Rodella, — F.3d —, 2015 WL 6735896 (10th Cir. Nov. 4, 2015)

Nov 4, 2015

Former county sheriff appealed criminal conviction for violating victim’s constitutional rights. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit considered whether the sheriff used unreasonable force or conducted a lawful arrest when the sheriff, who was not in uniform, chased the victim in an unmarked vehicle, brandished a firearm, pulled the victim from his vehicle, threw him to the ground, and slammed a badge into the victim’s cheek. As a matter of first impression, the Tenth Circuit held that the sheriff lacked probable cause for the stop, notwithstanding the victim’s flight and ensuing traffic violations, where the sheriff not only provoked the flight but also placed the victim in reasonable fear of harm. The Tenth Circuit went on to clarify that language in prior cases requiring more than a de minimis injury to establish excessive force applied narrowly to handcuffing claims.