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La Mesa resident Drendolyn Sims has the right to sue La Mesa Police officer Mike Stanton over injuries suffered as a result of Stanton’s kicking in a gate on her property and striking her in the head, an appeals court ruled yesterday.

Stanton was responding to a call in La Mesa, “a high-crime neighborhood near San Diego,” reports Courthouse News Service, regarding an “unknown disturbance . . . involving a baseball bat.”

While Stanton and his partner observed nothing unusual upon arriving at the scene, they did notice Nicholas Patrick and two other men walking in the street. The two men walked into a nearby apartment complex, but Patrick took off in another direction. Though he was not in possession of a baseball bat, he ignored officers’ orders to stop and entered the front yard of another property, closing the gate behind him.

Stanton then gave pursuit and kicked in the gate, unaware that Sims, the homeowner, was standing behind it. She was rendered “temporarily unconscious, or at least incoherent,” due to the officer’s blow.

After U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller dismissed a suit by Sims claiming illegal search and excessive force, a three judge 9th District Court of Appeals panel reversed the ruling yesterday, finding that Stanton had no justifiable reason to kick in Sims’ gate.

“The warrantless intrusion is particularly egregious in this case because Stanton violated the Fourth Amendment rights of an uninvolved person, Sims," wrote Judge Stephen Reinhardt. “Stanton could have knocked on the door and asked Sims for permission to enter and speak with, or arrest, Patrick. Knocking on the door would still not have justified a warrantless entry, but at the very least, with the warning of a knock, Sims might have been able to move away from behind the gate before Stanton kicked it open. In any event, the record before us does not reveal any 'rare' circumstances that would call for an exception to the rule that 'where the underlying offense is only a misdemeanor, law enforcement must yield to the Fourth Amendment.'”

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Comments

Javajoe25 Dec. 4, 2012 @ 11:59 a.m.

Good for Judge Reinhardt. It's about time someone let these cops know they cannot just blow their stack and go after people, whether it's right, wrong, or lawful. These incidents are nothing but temper tantrums in uniform and the police need to check themselves and stop acting like raging bulls.

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 4, 2012 @ 6:04 p.m.

Good for Judge Reinhardt

He is one of the FEW who will stand up for the poor, and take on LE.

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 4, 2012 @ 5:48 p.m.

After U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller dismissed a suit by Sims claiming illegal search and excessive force, a three judge 9th District Court of Appeals panel reversed the ruling yesterday, finding that Stanton had no justifiable reason to kick in Sims’ gate

I am shocked the 9th overturned the trial judge here, even though it is the right call, the 9th has so many yahoo's they almost never get it right.

Ahhh.....here is why it was overturned, Judge Reinhardt- one of the FEW judges on the 9th that will stand up for the poor and disenfranchised;

“The warrantless intrusion is particularly egregious in this case because Stanton violated the Fourth Amendment rights of an uninvolved person, Sims," wrote Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

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SurfPuppy619 Dec. 4, 2012 @ 6:03 p.m.

Dave Rice, who is the lawyer/law firm for Sims??????

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Dave Rice Dec. 4, 2012 @ 11:17 p.m.

From the appeal:

L. Marcel Stewart, San Diego, California, for Petitioner. Peter J. Ferguson, Santa Ana, California, for Respondent.

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