Todd v. Woods et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Abdul K Kallon on 11/14/2017. (KBB)
2017 Nov-14 AM 09:30
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
TERRY WOODS and MICHAEL
Civil Action Number
Dustine Todd brings this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against two
officers in the Lauderdale County, Alabama Sheriff’s Department, Sgt. Terry
Woods and Deputy Michael Gean (collectively the Defendants). Todd alleges that
the Defendants, acting in their individual capacities, violated his constitutional
rights under the Fourteenth and Fourth Amendments when they arrested him on
several misdemeanor charges purportedly without probable cause. The Defendants
have now jointly moved for summary judgment on the grounds of qualified
immunity. Doc. 42. This motion is fully briefed, docs. 43; 50; 54, and ripe for
review. After careful consideration of the record and the parties’ arguments, the
court finds that the Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity and that their
motion is due to be granted.1
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). A dispute about a material fact is genuine “if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party.” Anderson v Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
“The evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable
inferences are to be drawn in [her] favor.” Id. at 255. Indeed, it is explicitly not
make credibility determinations.” Mize v. Jefferson City Bd. Of Educ., 93 F.3d
739, 742 (11th Cir. 1996); see also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255 (explaining
“[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of
legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge”).
However, “mere conclusions and unsupported factual allegations are legally
insufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion.” Ellis v. England, 432 F.3d
1321, 1326 (11th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (citing Bald Mountain Park, Ltd. v.
The parties have also filed several motions pertaining to various evidentiary issues. The
court has ruled on those motions in an order filed contemporaneously with this one, doc. 56.
Consequently, the court will not address in detail the parties’ numerous evidentiary arguments
Oliver, 863 F.2d 1560, 1563 (11th Cir. 1989)). Nor will “a . . . ‘scintilla of
evidence in support of the nonmoving party . . . suffice to overcome a motion for
summary judgment.’” Melton v. Abston, 841 F.3d 1207, 1219 (11th Cir. 2016)
(quoting Young v. City of Palm Bay, 358 F.3d 859, 860 (11th Cir. 2004)). Instead,
if “the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, there is no ‘genuine issue for trial,’” and summary judgment is
appropriately granted. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S.
574, 587 (1986) (citation omitted).
On January 24, 2015, a family friend, Chris Woods, contacted Todd, a
veteran Alabama state trooper who was off-duty at the time, regarding a stolen allterrain vehicle (ATV). Docs. 17 at 2–3; 20 at 2; 50 at 20. At Woods’ request,
Todd lodges numerous objections to Defendants’ evidentiary submissions. Many of
these objections are duplicative of those raised in an earlier motion which the court has already
rejected. See Doc. 56. The other objections involve the use in various affidavits of collective
terms such as “they” or “people” to describe the group of individuals arrested with Todd. Todd
argues these terms are so ambiguous they are due to be stricken. While some confusion does
exist regarding the precise number of people with Todd that night, this fact is entirely peripheral
to the issues in this case. Moreover, the number of individuals at the scene is verifiable via
admissible evidence—the first hand testimony of those present. Finally, Todd fails to provide
any legal basis for objecting to the use of these collective terms.
Similarly, Todd’s brief contains repeated requests to strike statements made in various
affidavits as either inconsistent with the affiants prior deposition testimony or with statements
made at the time of the incident. The underlying statements at issue have little bearing on the
resolution of this case, and Todd fails to fully articulate any legal basis for striking these
statements beyond noting their inconsistency with prior statements. In any event, the court
accepts the version of the facts submitted by Todd as true rendering these repetitive requests to
strike evidence contrary to Todd’s facts irrelevant to this proceeding. Accordingly Todd’s
requests are uniformly due to be denied.
Todd called the Lauderdale Sheriff’s Department to report the vehicle stolen. Id.
Later that day, Todd, accompanied by his wife and children, visited Woods’ home
where they were eventually joined by a third man, Dustin Kelly.
consuming approximately three beers, Todd went for an evening drive with Woods
and Kelly. Doc. 17 at 4.
Shortly after leaving Woods’ residence, the three men learned that Wesley
Holloway had just listed an ATV, very similar in appearance to the one stolen from
Woods, for sale on a social media website. Doc. 50 at 20–21. In response to this
news, Woods, Todd, and Kelly met up with several other people, one of whom
knew Holloway and thought she could persuade him to return the missing ATV.
Id. at 21. Woods, for his part, planned to offer Holloway money in exchange for
the safe return of the ATV. Id. Accordingly, sometime after midnight, the group
drove to the Holloway residence. Doc. 50 at 21. Todd later testified that he did
not notice either a posted “No Trespassing” sign or a gate impeding access to the
property. Doc. 44-15 at 24, 25, 34.
After the group arrived at Holloway’s residence, two individuals approached
the front door and knocked several times. Doc. 50 at 22. Holloway refused to
answer and instead called the police at around 1:00 a.m. to report that unknown
individuals were “beatin’ on [his] door.” Doc. 44-17 at 3. Holloway also called
his father who arrived at the property before the police. Docs. 50 at 22; 43 at 4;
44-9 at 3. Todd and Woods exited their vehicle at this point and approached
Holloway’s father, doc. 50 at 22, prompting Holloway, who had armed himself
with a rifle, to emerge from the residence. Docs. 17 at 6; 20 at 2; 43 at 4. A short
time thereafter, Defendant Gean, responding to the 9-1-1 call, reached Holloway’s
home and took control of the situation. Docs. 50 at 22; 44-16 at 37.
Holloway and Gean testified that they recognized Todd as a state trooper. Docs.
44-3 at 3; 44-9 at 3; 44-16 at 36–37.
Sergeant Woods, Deputy Gean’s supervisor and the other defendant in this
case, arrived at the scene a few minutes later and assumed command. Docs. 44-3
at 2–3; 44-16 at 37–39. Given Holloway’s status as a fellow law-enforcement
officer, Sergeant Woods contacted then Chief Deputy District Attorney Will
Powell and asked Deputy Gean to describe the situation to Powell over the phone.
Docs. 44-3 at 2–3; 44-16 at 39–40. Powell instructed the officers to charge Todd,
and the other adults with him, with a series of misdemeanor offenses, including
criminal trespassing in the second degree, disorderly conduct, harassment, and
public intoxication. Docs. 44-3at 3; 44-16 at 39–41. Pursuant to this instruction,
the Defendants arrested Todd and transported him to the county jail where he
posted bond approximately eight hours later.
Docs. 17 at 8–10; 20 at 3.
Ultimately, the Chief Magistrate for Lauderdale County found that no probable
cause existed to issue a warrant for Todd’s arrest, effectively concluding the
criminal proceedings underlying this case. Docs. 50 at 24; 20 at 3; 51-7 at 2–3.
The sole issue before this court is whether the Defendants are entitled to
qualified immunity with respect to Todd’s wrongful arrest claim. The defense of
qualified immunity reflects both “the need to hold public officials accountable
when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from
harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.”
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009).
officials performing discretionary functions are immune not just from liability, but
from suit, unless the conduct which is the basis for [the] suit violates clearly
established federal statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person
would have known.” Sanders v. Howze, 177 F.3d 1245, 1249 (11th Cir. 1999).
“‘[A]ll but the plainly incompetent or one who is knowingly violating the federal
law’” are entitled to the protection of qualified immunity. Lee v. Ferraro, 284
F.3d 1188, 1194 (11th Cir. 2002) (quoting Willingham v. Loughnan, 261 F.3d
1178, 1187 (11th Cir. 2001)). Qualified immunity, however, “does not extend to
one who knew or reasonably should have known that his or her actions would
violate the plaintiff’s federal rights.” Gaines v. Wardynski, 871 F.3d 1203, 1207
(11th Cir. 2017).
As a threshold matter, a public official must have acted within the scope of
her discretionary authority to invoke qualified immunity. Jones v. Fransen, 857
F.3d 843, 851 (11th Cir. 2017). The term discretionary authority includes “all
actions of a governmental official that (1) ‘were undertaken pursuant to the
performance of [her] duties,’ and (2) were ‘within the scope of [her] authority.’”
Jordan v. Doe, 38 F.3d 1559, 1566 (11th Cir. 1994) (quoting Rich v. Dollar, 841
F.2d 1558, 1564 (11th Cir. 1988)). When conducting this inquiry, Eleventh Circuit
precedent requires the district court to put aside “the fact that [the act] may have
been committed for an unconstitutional purpose, in an unconstitutional manner, to
an unconstitutional extent, or under constitutionally inappropriate circumstances.”
Holloman ex rel. Holloman v. Harland, 370 F.3d 1252, 1266 (11th Cir. 2004).
Here, it is well-established that on-duty police officers making an arrest act
within the proper scope of their discretionary authority. See, e.g., Lee, 284 F.3d at
1194 (explaining that “there can be no doubt that [the defendant officer] was acting
in his discretionary capacity when he arrested [the plaintiff]”); Wood v. Kesler, 323
F.3d 872, 877 (11th Cir. 2003) (same); Vinyard v. Wilson, 311 F.3d 1340, 1346
(11th Cir. 2002) (same). Todd seeks to escape this conclusion by arguing that the
officers acted outside their discretionary authority because Alabama law
specifically forbids warrantless arrests for misdemeanor offenses not committed in
the officer’s presence. See ALA. CODE § 15-10-3(a)(1). While it may seem logical
to believe that violating the law is never within an official’s discretionary
authority, the Eleventh Circuit has explained “[t]he inquiry is not whether it was
within the defendant’s authority to commit the allegedly illegal act. Framed that
way, the inquiry is no more than an ‘untenable’ tautology.” Harbert Int’l, Inc. v.
James, 157 F.3d 1271, 1282 (11th Cir. 1998). Instead, the court “look[s] to the
general nature of the defendant’s action” putting aside the purported fact of that
action’s illegality. Holloman, 370 F.3d at 1266. Accordingly, the court finds that
the defendant officers were acting within the scope of their authority when they
arrested Todd and transported him to the Lauderdale County Jail.
After the defendant establishes that she acted within the scope of her
discretionary authority, “‘the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show that qualified
immunity is not appropriate.’” Vinyard, 311 F.3d at 1346 (quoting Lee, 284 F.3d
at 1194). To make this showing, “the plaintiff must demonstrate . . . the following
two things: (1) that the defendant violated her constitutional rights, and (2) that, at
the time of the violation, those rights were ‘clearly established . . . in light of the
specific context of the case, not as a broad general proposition.’” Gaines, 871 F.3d
at 1208 (quoting Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001), overruled, in part, on
other grounds by Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223 (2009)). The court “may
decide these issues in either order, but, to survive a qualified-immunity defense,
[the plaintiff] must satisfy both showings.” Jones, 857 F.3d at 851.
The court turns first to the question of whether the Defendants violated
Todd’s constitutional rights by arresting him. The Fourth Amendment provides
that an individual has a right to freedom from “unreasonable searches and
seizures.” U.S. CONST. amend. IV. In this context, “an arrest is a seizure of the
person, . . . and the ‘reasonableness’ of an arrest is, in turn, determined by the
presence or absence of probable cause for the arrest.” Skop v. City of Atlanta, 485
F.3d 1130, 1137 (11th Cir. 2007). “‘Probable cause to arrest exists when law
enforcement officials have facts and circumstances within their knowledge
sufficient to warrant a reasonable belief that the suspect had committed or was
committing a crime.’” United States v. Floyd, 281 F.3d 1346, 1348 (11th Cir.
2002) (quoting United States. v. Gonzalez, 969 F.2d 999, 1002 (11th Cir. 1992)).
In the context of a qualified-immunity defense, however, the mere absence of
probable cause is insufficient “to remove the shield of qualified immunity.” Skop,
485 F.3d at 1137. Instead, an officer need only show the existence of “arguable
probable cause,” which asks only whether “‘reasonable officers in the same
circumstances and possessing the same knowledge as the Defendants could have
believed that probable cause existed to arrest the plaintiff.’” Scarbrough v.
Myles, 245 F.3d 1299, 1302 (11th Cir. 2001) (quoting Redd v. City of Enterprise,
140 F.3d 1378, 1382 (11th Cir. 1998)).
Here, the defendant officers arrested Todd for commission of four Alabama
misdemeanor offenses, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, harassment, and
trespass in the second degree. Doc. 50 at 22–24. Todd argues that because
Alabama law clearly specifies that an officer may only effectuate a warrantless
arrest for a misdemeanor offense if that offense was committed in the presence of
the arresting officer, see ALA. CODE. § 15-10-3, the officers lacked arguable
probable cause for the arrest because they did not personally witness Todd’s
commission of any of the charged crimes. Neither party disputes that arguable
probable cause need only exist as to one of the listed offenses for the Defendants to
properly claim qualified immunity. See Skop, 485 F.3d at 1138 (noting that if
arguable probable cause existed to effectuate an arrest for either of two crimes, the
arresting officer was entitled to qualified immunity). Therefore, for purposes of
this analysis, the court will focus only on the charge of trespass in the second
Alabama law provides that “[a] person is guilty of criminal trespass in the
second degree if [she] knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building or
upon real property which is fenced or enclosed in a manner designed to exclude
ALA. CODE § 13A-7-3(a).
Alabama law further provides that
remaining on a property unlawfully means remaining “upon a premise when . . .
not licensed, invited or privileged to do so.” ALA. CODE. § 13A-7-1(3). Both land
and buildings qualify as premises in Alabama. ALA. CODE § 13A-7-1(5); see also
Chambers v. City of Opelika, 698 So. 2d 792, 795 (Ala. Crim. App. 1996). The
“remains unlawfully” language in the statute is intended to apply to cases where “a
person enters with license or privilege but remains after termination of such license
of privilege.” Commentary, ALA. CODE § 13A-7-1.
Todd filed an affidavit in opposition to summary judgment in which he
attests that Holloway’s property was not marked with a “No Trespassing” sign,
doc. 51-1 at 2, and accordingly he argues that the defendant officers cannot
contend that he was subjectively aware that he had entered or was remaining
unlawfully on Holloway’s property. However, for the reasons enumerated in this
court’s previous ruling, doc. 56, Todd’s affidavit is a sham and is due to be
stricken. Moreover, Todd’s affidavit is still insufficient to create a material factual
issue. Briefly, both Defendants, who arrived separately, testified that the Holloway
property was marked with a “No Trespassing” sign, docs. 44-16 at 24; 44-4 at 2–3,
a fact they contemporaneously related to the Chief Deputy District Attorney. Doc.
44-16 at 39–40. Further, a picture taken later that morning shows a gate marked
with a “No Trespassing” sign, docs. 44 at 2; 44-11 at 2. See, e.g., Morton v.
Kirkwood, 707 F.3d 1276, 1284 (11th Cir. 2013) (explaining that “‘when
documentary evidence ‘blatantly contradicts’ a plaintiff’s account . . . a court
should not credit the plaintiff’s version on summary judgment’”) (quoting Witt v.
W. Va. State Police, 633 F.3d 272, 276–77 (4th Cir. 2011)); Johnson v. Niehus,
491 F. App’x 945, 951 (11th Cir. 2012) (explaining that a district court is not
obliged to credit the non-movant’s self-serving evidence “which is blatantly
contracted by the . . . record . . . [and] that no fair-minded jury could return a
verdict for [the non-movant]”); Vicks v. Knight, 380 F. App’x 847, 852 (11th Cir.
2010) (explaining that summary judgment was appropriately granted because “a
reasonable factfinder could not believe” the non-movant’s assertions because they
were “contradicted by all of the relevant evidence, with the exception of the [nonmovant’s] own affidavit”).
Moreover, the relevant inquiry is not whether Todd committed a crime, but
whether the arresting officers had arguable probable cause to arrest him that night.
See Scarbrough, 245 F.3d at 1303 (11th Cir. 2001) (explaining that qualified
immunity is evaluated by information known at the time not “by hindsight based
on later events”) (citation omitted); see also Skop, 485 F.3d at 1137 (noting that an
officer is not automatically liable “for making an arrest that, when seen with the
benefit of hindsight, turns out not to have been supported by probable cause”);
Jones v. Cannon, 174 F.3d 1271, 1283 n.4 (11th Cir. 1999) (pointing out that
“what counts for qualified immunity purposes relating to probable cause to arrest is
the information known to the defendant officers or officials at the time of their
conduct”). Therefore, Todd’s subjective knowledge with respect to the trespass is
irrelevant to the legal inquiry which this court must undertake to resolve the
question of whether the Defendants in this case are entitled to qualified immunity. 3
Accordingly, the court will assume that Todd did not see the “No
Trespassing” signs and, as he belatedly asserts in his affidavit, that the property
had no such signs. Still, the factual circumstances known to the officers at the time
of the arrest provide a sufficient basis for a reasonable police officer to conclude
that Todd was committing a crime in their presence, criminal trespass in the second
degree. It is undisputed that the Defendants were responding to a 9-1-1 call
received after midnight from a homeowner reporting “a bunch of people” “beatin’
on [the] door” of his home. Docs. 44-17 at 3; 44-16 at 35. The caller also reported
to the 9-1-1 operator that he was armed, and might confront the intruders. Doc.
44-17 at 6, 11.
When Deputy Gean and the other officers arrived on the scene, they
encountered a drunken mob outside the residence – they saw persons drinking,
docs. 44-16 at 38, 41; 44-4 at 3, a case of beer in one of the vehicles, docs. 44-3 at
Similarly, Todd’s contention that he believed he was licensed to enter the property
because one member of his group knew the property owner misses the mark by confusing the
requirements of criminal liability with the arguable probable case standard that applies here. It is
irrelevant that Todd may not actually have committed the crime of criminal trespassing in the
second degree. What matters for purposes of this motion is whether a reasonable officer could
have concluded that probable cause existed for arresting Todd. Here, given the information
known to the officers at the time, it was eminently reasonable to determine that Todd was
knowingly remaining on the premises without a license or invitation, and that consequently
arguable probable cause existed for an arrest.
3; 44-4 at 3, and they smelled alcohol on the group. Docs. 44-16 at 36; 44-4 at 3.
Further, the officers observed Todd, and the group he was with, engaged in a
discussion with Holloway, docs. 44-3 at 3; 51-3 at 28–29, the 9-1-1 caller who
informed the responding officers that he was afraid for his life and had confronted
the mob with a rifle out of fear for his safety and for the safety of his family. Docs.
51-3 at 38; 44-3 at 3. Indeed, the 9-1-1 report coupled with the late hour alone
could have led a reasonable officer to assume that Todd, and the others, were
unlawfully on the property and had knowledge of that fact. Accordingly, the
totality of the factual circumstances confronting the responding officers in this case
is more than sufficient to establish the existence of arguable reasonable probable
cause to arrest Todd for trespassing on Holloway’s property.4
Although Todd was not charged with the offense of criminal trespass in the third
degree, that crime requires only that an individual “knowingly enter or remain unlawfully in
or upon premises.” ALA. CODE § 13A-7-4(a). When “an officer has probable cause to believe
that an individual has committed even a very minor criminal offense in his presence, he may,
without violating the Fourth Amendment, arrest the offender.” Atwater v. City of Lago Vista,
532 U.S. 318, 354 (2001). Moreover, “[t]he validity of an arrest does not turn on the offense
announced by the officer at the time of the arrest.” Bailey v. Bd. of Cty. Comm’rs of Alachua
Cty., 956 F.2d 1112, 1119 n.4 (11th Cir. 1992). Indeed, the Eleventh Circuit has said “‘[w]hen
an officer makes an arrest, which is properly supported by probable cause to arrest for a certain
offense, neither his subjective reliance on an offence for which no probable cause exists nor his
verbal announcement of the wrong offense vitiates the arrest.’” Lee, 284 F.3d at 1196 (quoting
United States v. Saunders, 476 F.2d 5, 7 (5th Cir. 1973)); see also Collins v. Ensley, 498 F.
App’x 908, 910 (11th Cir. 2012) (same).
In light of the foregoing discussion, even if the property was unfenced, there was no gate
at the entrance to the driveway marked with a “No Trespassing” sign, and no one ever asked
Todd to leave the property, a reasonable officer still could have concluded that probable cause
existed to effectuate an arrest for criminal trespass in the third degree. Indeed, it is undisputed
that the Defendants responded to a 9-1-1 call in which the caller reported being in fear for his life
because of a group of individuals congregating on his property after midnight and knocking on
the door to his home while calling for him to come outside. Docs. 44-17 at 2–4; 44-3 at 3.
Significantly, however, the Defendants, the other responding officers, and
the homeowner indicated that the property was gated and marked with a sign
reading “Private Property – No Trespassing,” docs. 44-16 at 24; 44-4 at 2–3; 44-5
at 2; 44-7 at 2; 44-9 at 2, a fact supported by a photograph taken later that morning,
doc. 44-11 at 2. Indeed, the Defendants specifically mentioned the existence of the
“No Trespassing” sign when they discussed potential charges with a District
Attorney before making any arrests that night. Doc. 44-16 at 39–40. The officers’
observations, the homeowner’s report, and the contemporaneous photograph
“blatantly contradict” Todd’s account regarding the purported absence of a “No
Trespassing” sign, and, as such, Todd’s testimony is not due deference.
Morton, 707 F.3d at 1284.
That the Defendants acted reasonably based on the information at hand is
further reinforced by their decision to contact a District Attorney before arresting
Todd, doc. 44-16 at 39–40. See Poulakis v. Rogers, 341 F. App’x 523, 533 (11th
Cir. 2009) (noting that “pre-arrest consultation and advice of a district attorney [is]
one circumstance contributing to the objective reasonableness of an officer’s
conduct”). Moreover, one of the Defendants, Deputy Gean, testified that the
property was fenced, a fact not disputed by Todd. See Docs. 44-16 at 8, 42; 51-1 at
Given the fact of the 9-1-1 report and the late hour, a reasonable officer could have assumed that
Todd, and the others, were unlawfully on the property and had knowledge of that fact
establishing arguable probable cause to arrest Todd for criminal trespass in the third degree.
Under binding circuit precedent, any basis for a valid arrest is all that is required to entitle the
Defendants to qualified immunity.
2. Todd does argue that the fence belonged to an adjacent property, doc. 50 at 7,
23, but the significance of this distinction is lost on the court. It may well be that
the fence belonged to a neighbor, or was otherwise on the neighbor’s property.
However, this factual issue is not dispositive. Arguable probable cause does not
require the officer to have perfect knowledge of the scene confronting them. An
officer who noticed a fence around part of a property, at night, in the dark, could
have reasonably assumed that the fence was part of the subject property rather than
belonging to a neighbor’s property. In short, an arresting officer “‘cannot be held
to a title-searcher’s knowledge of metes and bounds.’” Bodzin v. City of Dallas,
768 F.2d 722, 725 (5th Cir. 1985) (quoting Saldana v. Garza, 684 F.2d 1159, 1165
(5th Cir. 1985)).
The record before the court establishes that the Defendants knew at the time
of arrest that Todd was on a property that was fenced, gated, and included a “No
Trespassing” sign, i.e. all signals that the premises owner wished to exclude
intruders. The presence of all three of these indicia also suggests that anyone
entering onto the property would know, absent permission from the landowner,
that they were not privileged or otherwise licensed to enter the premises.
Moreover, because the officers at the scene had uniformly noted this information it
was reasonable for them to assume that Todd was similarly aware of these facts,
and to conclude that he was knowingly committing the crime of criminal trespass
in the second degree. See Hunter v. Bryant, 502 U.S. 224, 226 (1991) (explaining
qualified immunity protects officers “who reasonably but mistakenly conclude that
probable cause is present are entitled to immunity”) (citation omitted).
Significantly, even if at one time, Todd and the others in his group
believed they had a license to enter the property, the 9-1-1 call and the ensuing
confrontation with an armed homeowner, doc. 17 at 6, should have indicated the
revocation of any such license. When the Defendants arrived at the scene and
noticed that Todd was still present, this information clearly provided a reasonable
basis for concluding that Todd was in the process of committing a criminal trespass
in the second degree by remaining unlawfully “upon real property which is fenced
or enclosed in a manner designed to exclude intruders.” ALA. CODE § 13A-7-7.
Accordingly, because it was reasonable for the Defendants to believe, given the
circumstances and the information known to them at the time, that Todd was
committing the crime of criminal trespass in the second degree, they possessed, at
the least, arguable probable cause to arrest Todd and are consequently entitled to
the shield of qualified immunity.
For the foregoing reasons, the Defendants are entitled to qualified immunity,
and their motion for summary judgment, doc. 42, is due to be granted. An order
dismissing this case will issue separately.
DONE the 14th day of November, 2017.
ABDUL K. KALLON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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