Saturday, February 15, 2003

Police are immune, appeals court rules

Arrest prompted by anonymous call, man had sued

The Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected a man's lawsuit against two Akron police officers who arrested him at his home on the basis of an anonymous 911 call.

Officers William Aey and J.P. Donohue are entitled to immunity from the lawsuit because they were acting within their official authority when they arrested Thomas Feathers on his porch, the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

Feathers, of Akron, said the officers violated his constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure when they arrested him early on Aug. 31, 2000. Feathers said he wasn't doing anything wrong and was hugging his wife on the porch when police arrived.

The officers were responding to a 911 call that a seemingly drunken, shirtless man in the neighborhood had pointed something at the 911 caller and told him to shut up.

The 911 caller declined to give his name but asked police to investigate.

The officers said Feathers matched the description of the subject of the 911 complaint. The officers said they arrested Feathers when he scuffled with them and bit one of their fingers. Feathers said the officer bit himself.

"Efficient law enforcement requires ... that police be permitted to rely on information provided by the dispatcher," Judge Karen Moore wrote in the unanimous ruling.

The officers had probable cause to arrest Feathers because the officer's finger was bitten, the court said. Feathers was charged with resisting arrest, assaulting an officer and carrying a concealed knife. He was later cleared at trial.

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