If you spend even a moderate amount of time in law enforcement, odds are pretty good you’ll get sued at some point for simply doing your job.
For example, I’ve been sued in federal court for excessive force. After being attacked by two people.
Yeah, you read that right…but that’s a different post.
This post is about an example of a silly threat to sue…particularly because what I was doing ended up benefitting the suspect.
Earlier this year, I attended a two-week DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) training. For those of you not in the know, think of it as how a super-charged course on not only how to detect folks under the influence, but how to document it and the proper standardized procedures to follow.
It was a fun class. (Certainly not the “hardest class” I ever took, despite what the instructor (who was neither a motor nor a collision reconstructionist) claimed.)
My partner made an arrest for DUI after a collision and the responsible driver appeared to be under the influence. The suspect was an older guy (in his 60s) and was acting extraordinarily odd. As part of our usual procedure, my partner did the initial roadside investigation and then transported the suspect back to the PD for a DRE investigation.
I won’t bore you with the DRE portion of my tale, suffice it to say, I ended up medically ruling the suspect out and he was released. The investigation took longer than normal because he was exhibiting some very odd and contradictory signs (which is how we ended up with a rule-out).
What made me chuckle, though, was the suspect’s constant threats to sue. He wanted to sue us for arresting him (which we had more than ample cause to do). He wanted to sue us for taking so long during the investigation (even though the result of that very investigation resulted in him being released).
Oddly enough, it was partly his attitude and strange demeanor that was throwing us off for longer than normal. If you’ve got nothing on board and you know it, I don’t really understand why you’d be so confrontational, irritating, and unpredictable nature. Common sense would tell say, “You think I’m under the influence? You take your time, officer. I got nothin’ to hide.”
The suspect ended up consenting to a blood draw. That draw later told us we were correct in medically ruling out the suspect. He had been up for something like 34 hours straight. If you’ve ever been awake that long, it isn’t hard to exhibit signs similar to being under the influence.
Sleep deprivation will mess you up good.
The point here is as long as you are doing your job, inside the scope of your training and within policy, don’t let threats of lawsuits dissuade you. More often than not, they are wild threats based on nothing more than the ravings of idiots.
Image courtesy of Flickr and studio tdes