LAW OFFICES OF JERRY L. STEERING
Jerry L. Steering, Esq., is a Police Misconduct Attorney. His law practice involves serving, among other places, Riverside County, and the Riverside County cities shown below. Mr. Steering also represents persons in both civil and criminal case in Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Orange County and San Bernardino County. He is an expert in brutality / excessive force and false arrest cases; both civil and criminal. He also handles malicious criminal prosecution cases.
Although the Orange County Sheriff’s Department under the stewardship of disgraced former Sheriff Mike Carona (sentenced to 66 months in federal prison for witness tampering) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department under the stewardship of former (forced to resign) Sheriff Lee Baca, had been the Southern California leaders in beating-up civilian and falsely arrested them to shift the blames to their victims, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department are the new Southern California leaders in that area of “law enforcement.”
Under the leadership of Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department has become one of the leading agencies for the beatings and their accompanying false arrests. Under Sheriff Sniff, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department deputy sheriffs routinely beat-up and falsely arrest any civilian who dares to challenge their authority (i.e. such as by telling the deputies that one knows their rights, or daring to ask the deputies why they are treating them this ugly way.) These deputy sheriff’s procure the bogus their victims’ false criminal prosecutions, to beat-down the innocents who’s constitutional. Sheriff Sniff’s Professional Standards Bureau (Internal Affairs) has become the “white wash” wing of that agency.
Jerry L. Steering has successfully sued the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department over the years. Most recently, Mr. Steering has obtained settlements against the County of Riverside for wrongfully tasing a former Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Sheriff [Torres v. County of Riverside, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Riverside)(2010), $500,000.00], and for using unreasonable force and falsely arresting a 64 year old man [Chynoweth v. County of Riverside et al., Riverside County Superior Court (2011), $750,000.00.]
Mr. Steering also obtained an $825,000.00 settlement at completion of trial from the Riverside County City of Desert Hot Springs, for unreasonable force and false arrest [Moore, et al. v. City of Desert Hot Springs, Riverside County Superior Court (2012).]
In 2013, Mr. Steering successfully obtained a jury verdict in federal court against Riverside County Sheriff’s Department deputies sheriffs for excessive force (punching a Lake Elsinore man in face) and for illegally searching his person property; resulting in a $250,000.00 ultimate settlement of the case, in Parnell v. County of Riverside.
Mr. Steering constantly sues the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department more and more often these days, because the simple truth is, that the Department is simply a morally bankrupt organization. When a Riverside County Sheriff’s Department deputy sheriff uses unreasonable force or falsely arrest civilians, the department encourages further constitutional transgressions, by defended the outrages against the public committed by the deputies. They don’t properly train their deputy sheriffs, and not only tolerate the use of unreasonable force and their accompanying false arrests and malicious criminal prosecutions, but, by case by case of backing the deputies, promote and encourage future constitutional violations. If you’re reading this article, you are probably a person who wouldn’t have believed these serious allegations, until they actually happened to you or your friends or loved ones.
WHAT IS EXCESSIVE FORCE?
The United States Supreme Court has defined Excessive Force as follows:
“Where, as here, the excessive force claim arises in the context of an arrest or investigatory stop of a free citizen, it is most properly characterized as one invoking the protections of the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees citizens the right to be secure in their persons . . . against unreasonable . . . seizures of the person . . . . . . . Determining whether the force used to effect a particular seizure is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment requires a careful balancing of the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individuals Fourth Amendment interests against the countervailing governmental interests at stake. Id., at 8, 105 S.Ct., at 1699, quoting United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, 703, 103 S.Ct. 2637, 2642, 77 L.Ed.2d 110 (1983). Our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat thereof to effect it. See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S., at 22-27, 88 S.Ct., at 1880-1883. Because the test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application, Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 1884, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979), however, its proper application requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight. See Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S., at 8-9, 105 S.Ct., at 1699-1700 (the question is whether the totality of the circumstances justifies a particular sort of . . . seizure.)” See, Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989.)
The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. See Terry v. Ohio, supra, 392 U.S., at 20-22, 88 S.Ct., at 1879-1881. The Fourth Amendment is not violated by an arrest based on probable cause, even though the wrong person is arrested, Hill v. California, 401 U.S. 797, 91 S.Ct. 1106, 28 L.Ed.2d 484 (1971), nor by the mistaken execution of a valid search warrant on the wrong premises, Maryland v. Garrison, 480 U.S. 79, 107 S.Ct. 1013, 94 L.Ed.2d 72 (1987). With respect to a claim of excessive force, the same standard of reasonableness at the moment applies: Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judges chambers, Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d, at 1033, violates the Fourth Amendment. The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.
As in other Fourth Amendment contexts, however, the reasonableness inquiry in an excessive force case is an objective one: the question is whether the officers actions are objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. See Scott v. United States, 436 U.S. 128, 137-139, 98 S.Ct. 1717, 1723-1724, 56 L.Ed.2d 168 (1978); see also Terry v. Ohio, supra, 392 U.S., at 21, 88 S.Ct., at 1879 (in analyzing the reasonableness of a particular search or seizure, it is imperative that the facts be judged against an objective standard). An officers evil intentions will not make a Fourth Amendment violation out of an objectively reasonable use of force; nor will an officers good intentions make an objectively unreasonable use of force constitutional. See, Scott v. United States, supra, 436 U.S., at 138, 98 S.Ct., at 1723, citing United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 94 S.Ct. 467, 38 L.Ed.2d 427 (1973).
In Graham, we held that claims of excessive force in the context of arrests or investigatory stops should be analyzed under the Fourth Amendments objective reasonableness standard, not under substantive due process principles. 490 U.S., at 388, 394. Because police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving\about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation, id., at 397, the reasonableness of the officers belief as to the appropriate level of force should be judged from that on-scene perspective. Id., at 396. We set out a test that cautioned against the 20/20 vision of hindsight in favor of deference to the judgment of reasonable officers on the scene. Id., at 393, 396. Graham sets forth a list of factors relevant to the merits of the constitutional excessive force claim, requir[ing] careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight. Id., at 396. If an officer reasonably, but mistakenly, believed that a suspect was likely to fight back, for instance, the officer would be justified in using more force than in fact was needed. (See, Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194 (2001), Rehnquist, C.J.)
THE PROBLEM WITH GRAHAM’S “REASONABLE OFFICER STANDARD” IN THE REAL WORLD – THE WATCHMAN GETS TO MAKE HIS OWN RULES THAT REGULATE HIS OWN CONDUCT.
The problem with the description of how “excessive force” is defined, is not the Supreme Courts strong emphasis on the officers conduct being based on an objective standard; the hypothetical reasonable officer in the abstract. The problem is, that the standards in the police profession for what is reasonable or otherwise proper police conduct in a given situation, are generally neither the creature of legislation (i.e. state law requiring the audio recording of custodial police interrogations) nor the product of any judicially created mandate, duty, or prohibition (i.e. Constitutional limits on police conduct, such as the judicially created exclusionary rule.) The conduct of the objectively reasonable officer; that standard that the Supreme Court attempted to describe in Graham v. Connor and Saucier v. Katz, is created by the very persons whose conduct the Fourth Amendment is supposed to impose limits on. Thus, in a very real sense, the Supreme Court has set the standard (objectively reasonable officer) that the Fourth Amendment requires, but has delegated the details of whats reasonable or not, to the police.
Its letting the regulated enact their own regulations. If they want to all use tasers on civilians for not immediately complying with their orders (lawful or not), then that’s reasonable, if they do so. If they all want to pepper-spray persons because their hands are in their pockets (and, therefore, they might possibly pose a threat), then that’s reasonable. If they want to prone-out everyone at gun point that they detain, then that’s reasonable. At the end of the day, in the real world police world, if the technique, method, procedure, policy or practice, reduces the danger level to the officer, you can bet that, eventually, they will find a way to justify such a technique, method, procedure, policy or practice, and make such otherwise unreasonable behavior, reasonable, for no other reason than the police would prefer to act that way; Constitutional or not. You see the problem. The police have an old slogan: “Its better to be judged by 12, then carried by 6.” Its another way of saying, I’ll act in a way that’s in my self interest; not yours, and if I happen to trample your Constitutional rights, so be it.
This is quite problematic, as the Bill of Rights was created for the Courts to protect us from the police / government, so when the police define “what’s reasonable force”, in a very real way, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, one of those rights in the Bill of Rights, is defined by the police, rather than the Courts. There are cases where the Courts will step-in and ban a particular police practice, but those cases are far and few between.
THE PROBLEM OF QUALIFIED IMMUNITY COMPOUNDS THE PROBLEM CREATED BY GRAHAM
In a nutshell, the Qualified Immunity is an immunity from a lawsuit for violation of a civilians Constitutional rights, when those rights were actually violated, but also when a reasonably well trained police officer could have believed that his conduct did not constitute such Constitutional violation. So, even if the police officer actually violated your Constitutional Rights, he may be immune from suit, because the law was not clearly established enough at the time of the violation, to hold a police officer liable for his conduct. This is a doctrine contrived by the conservative members of the Supreme Court (since 1982 in Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982)), to ensure that you can’t do anything about (or at least do a whole lot less about) your Constitutional Rights being trampled by the government.
So, for example, if the police come-up with a whole new technique to restrain people, such as a with a taser, or pepper-spray, or pepper-balls, or water-balls, or hobbling (police hog tying), or a shock-belting, or stun-gunning, the officer may very well be entitled to qualified immunity from being sued for the misuse of any of the above-mentioned devices; not because its reasonable, but because the police just use those devices in such manners; thereby giving the Courts an excuse to relieve the police officer from liability for the damage caused by his violation of the Constitutional Rights of civilians:
“Qualified immunity is an entitlement not to stand trial or face the other burdens of litigation. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 200 (2001) (quoting Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985)) . . . Accordingly, we must resolve immunity questions at the earliest possible stage in litigation. Pearson, 129, S.Ct. at 815.
An officer will be denied qualified immunity in a 1983 action only if (1) the facts alleged, taken in the light most favorable to the party asserting injury, show that the officers conduct violated a constitutional right, and (2) the right at issue was clearly established at the time of the incident such that a reasonable officer would have understood her conduct to be unlawful in that situation. Saucier, 533 at 201-02; Liberal v. Estrada, 632 F.3d 1064, 1076 (9th Cir. 2011.) To assist the development of constitutional precedent, we exercise our sound discretion to follow Sauciers conventional two-step procedure and address first whether the Torres Family has alleged the violation of a constitutional right. See, Pearson, 129 S.Ct. at 818.
The qualified immunity analysis involves two separate steps. First, the court determines whether the facts show the officers conduct violated a constitutional right. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001.) If the alleged violate a constitutional right, then the defendants are entitled to immunity and the claim must be dismissed. However, if the alleged conduct did violate such a right, then the court must determine whether the right was clearly established at the time of the alleged unlawful action. Id.
A right is clearly established if a reasonable official would understand that what he is doing violates that right. Id., at 202. If the right is not clearly established, then the officer is entitled to qualified immunity. While the order in which these questions are addressed is left to the courts sound discretion, it is often beneficial to perform the analysis in the sequence outlined above. Pearson v. Callahan, 129 S.Ct. 808, 818 (2009.) Of course, where a claim of qualified immunity is to be denied, both questions must be answered.
When determining whether there are any genuine issues of material fact at the summary judgment stage, the court must take all facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. In the context of qualified immunity, determinations that turn on questions of law, such as whether the officers had probable cause or reasonable suspicion to support their actions, are appropriately decided by the court. Act Up!/Portland v. Bagley, 988 F.2d 868, 873 (9th Cir. 1993.)
However, a trial court should not grant summary judgment when there is a genuine dispute as to the facts and circumstances within an officers knowledge or what the officer and claimant did or failed to do.” (Saucier v. Katz, supra.)
WHY THE POLICE CRIMINALLY PROSECUTE THEIR VICTIMS
Unfortunately, because of institutional pressures (i.e. “ratting out” fellow officer not a good career move), and the obvious political and practical consequences of not backing-up the their fellow officers, the norm in today’s police profession, is for peace officers to falsely arrest their victims, and to author false police reports to procure the bogus criminal prosecutions (i.e. to literally frame others) of those civilians whose Constitutional rights and basic human dignity have been violated; to justify what they did, and to act in conformity with that justification. The excessive force victims get criminally prosecuted, for crimes that they didn’t commit; usually for crimes such as Resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer in the lawful performance of their duties (Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1)), assault on a peace officer (Cal. Penal Code 240 / 241), battery on a peace officer (Cal. Penal Code § 242 / 243(b) (which is almost always, in reality, battery by a peace officer; otherwise known as Excessive Force or Unreasonable Force), and deterring or attempting to deter, a public officer, by the use of, or by the threatened use of force or violence (Cal. Penal Code § 69.) Section 69 is a “wobbler” under California law; a crime that the government can charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony. This charge is usually reserved for cases in which the police use substantial force on the innocent arrestee (the real victim), and need to falsely claim more violent / serious conduct by the victim to justify their outrages.
So, for example, the crime of battery on a peace officer (Cal. Penal Code § 242 / 243(b)), is almost always, in reality, battery by a peace officer; otherwise known as Excessive Force; an unreasonable seizure of a person under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution (See, Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989).)
FRAME-UPS AND THE DOCTRINE OF COLLATERAL ESTOPPEL
If the falsely arrested victim, now a criminal defendant being framed, gets convicted of any crime, he/she can no longer sue for a false arrest, even though the police may not have had either a warrant or probable cause to have arrested the victim. See, Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) (barring federal false arrest claims upon conviction) and Yount v. City of Sacramento, 43 Cal. 4th 885 (2008.) Moreover, if the criminal defendant gets convicted of a crime that requires the victim officer to be engaged in the lawful performance of his/her duties, most of the time, the excessive force victim is legally precluded (via the doctrine of “collateral estoppel”) from suing the police for excessive force. See, Susag v. City of Lake Forest, 94 Cal.App.4th 1401 (2002.)
If you have been the victim of Excessive Force by a police officer, please check our Section, above, entitled: What To Do If You Have Been Beaten-Up Or False Arrested By The Police. Also, please click on Home, above, or the other pages shown, for the information or assistance that we can provide for you. If you need to speak with a lawyer about your particular legal situation, please call the Law Offices of Jerry L. Steering for a free telephone consultation.
Thank you, and best of luck, whatever your needs.
Law Offices of Jerry L. Steering
Jerry L. Steering, Esq.
Riverside County Cities Served:
City of Banning P.O. Box 998 City Manager: Andy Takata Phone: (951) 922-3105 Website: www.ci.banning.ca.us Banning CA 922200998 City Clerk: Marie A. Calderon Fax: (951) 922-3128 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of Beaumont 550 E. 6th Street City Manager: Alan Kapanicas Phone: (951) 769-8520 Website: www.ci.beaumont.ca.us Beaumont CA 92223 City Clerk: Karen Thompson Fax: (951) 769-8526 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Blythe 235 N. Broadway Avenue City Manager: David Lane Phone: (760) 922-6161 Website: www.cityofblythe.ca.gov Blythe CA 92225 City Clerk: Patti Whitney Fax: (760) 922-4938 E-Mail: use website
City of Calimesa 908 Park Avenue City Manager: Randy Anstine Phone: (909) 795-9801 Website: www.cityofcalimesa.net Calimesa CA 92320 City Clerk: Darlene Gerdes Fax: (909) 795-4399 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of Canyon Lake 31516 Railroad Canyon Rd. City Manager: Richard Rowe, Interim Phone: (951) 244-2955 Website: www.cityofcanyonlake.com Canyon Lake CA 92587 City Clerk: Deborah Harrington Fax: (951) 246-2022 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Cathedral City 68700 Avenida Lalo Guerrero City Manager: Donald Bradley Phone: (760) 770-0340 Website: www.cathedralcity.gov Cathedral City CA 92234 City Clerk: Pat Hammers Fax: (760) 770-0399 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of Coachella 1515 Sixth Street City Manager: David Garcia Phone: (760) 398-3502 Website: www.coachella.org Coachella CA 92236 City Clerk: Isabel Castillon Fax: (760) 398-8117 E-Mail:
City of Corona 400 S. Vicentia Avenue City Manager: Brad Robbins Phone: (951) 736-2400 Website: www.ci.corona.ca.us Corona CA 92882 City Clerk: Lisa Mobley, Chief Dep. Fax: (951) 736-2399 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Desert Hot Springs 65950 Pierson Blvd. City Manager: Rick Daniels Phone: (760) 329-6411 Website: www.desert-hot-springs.us Desert Hot Springs CA 92240 City Clerk: Cynthia Lugo Fax: (760) 288-3129 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of Eastvale 6080 Hamner Ave. City Manager: Robert L. Van Nort Phone: (951) 361-0900 Website: www.ci.eastvale.ca.us Eastvale CA 91752 City Clerk: Judy Haughney Fax: (951) 361-0888 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 8/17/2012 2
City of Hemet 445 East Florida Avenue City Manager: Mark Orme, Interim Phone: (951) 765-2300 Website: www.cityofhemet.com Hemet CA 92543 City Clerk: Sarah McComas Fax: (951) 765-3785 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of Indian Wells 44-950 Eldorado Drive City Manager: Greg Johnson Phone: (760) 346-2489 Website: www.cityofindianwells.org Indian Wells CA 922107497 City Clerk: Anna Grandys Fax: (760) 346-0407 E-Mail: use website email
City of Jurupa Valley 8304 Limonite Av., Suite M City Manager: Stephen Harding Phone: (951) 332-6464 Website: jurupavalley.org Jurupa Valley CA 92509 City Clerk: Vicki Wasko Fax: E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
City of La Quinta P.O. Box 1504 City Manager: Frank J. Spevacek Phone: (760) 777-7000 Website: www.la-quinta.org La Quinta CA 92247 City Clerk: Veronica Montecino Fax: (760) 777-7107 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of Lake Elsinore 130 S. Main Street City Manager: Tom Evans, Interim Phone: (951) 674-3124 Website: www.lake-elsinore.org Lake Elsinore CA 92530 City Clerk: Virgina Bloom Fax: (951) 674-2392 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Menifee 29683 New Hub Drive, Suite C City Manager: Bill Rawlings Phone: (951) 672-6777 Website: www.cityofmenifee.us Menifee CA 92586 City Clerk: Kathy Bennett Fax: (951) 679-3843 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of Moreno Valley 14177 Frederick Street City Manager: Henry T. Garcia Phone: (951) 413-3000 Website: www.ci.moreno-valley.ca.us Moreno Valley CA 92553 City Clerk: Jane Halstead Fax: (951) 413-3750 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Murrieta One Town Square City Manager: Rick Dudley Phone: (951) 304-2489 Website: www.murrieta.org 24601 Jefferson Avenue Murrieta CA 92562 City Clerk: A. Kay Vinson Fax: (951) 698-9885 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of Palm Desert 73-510 Fred Waring Drive City Manager: John Wohlmuth Phone: (760) 346-0611 Website: www.cityofpalmdesert.org Palm Desert CA 92260 City Clerk: Rachelle Klassen Fax: (760) 340-0574 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 8/17/2012 3
City of Palm Springs 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way City Manager: David H. Ready Phone: (760) 323-8299 Website: www.palmspringca.gov Palm Springs CA 92262 City Clerk: James Thompson Fax: (760) 322-8332 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of Perris 101 North “D” Street City Manager: Richard Belmudez Phone: (951) 943-6100 Website: www.cityofperris.org Perris CA 92570 City Clerk: Judy Haughney Fax: (951) 943-4246 E-Mail: use website form
City of Rancho Mirage 69-825 Hwy. 111 City Manager: Randal K. Byder Phone: (760) 324-4511 Website: www.ci.rancho-mirage.ca.us Rancho Mirage CA 92270 City Clerk: Cynthia Scott Fax: (760) 324-8830 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Riverside 3900 Main Street City Manager: Scott Barber Phone: (951) 826-5311 Website: www.riversideca.gov Riverside CA 92522 City Clerk: Colleen J. Nicol Fax: (951) 826-5470 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of San Jacinto 595 S. San Jacinto Ave. City Manager: Tim Hults Phone: (951) 487-7330 Website: www.ci.san-jacinto.ca.us San Jacinto CA 92583 City Clerk: Dorothy Chouinard Fax: (951) 654-8021 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Temecula P.O. Box 9033 City Manager: Bob Johnson Phone: (951) 694-6444 Website: www.cityoftemecula.org Temecula CA 925899033 City Clerk: Susan W. Jones Fax: (951) 694-1999 E-Mail: email@example.com
City of Wildomar 23873 Clinton Keith Rd., Suite 111 City Manager: Frank Oviedo Phone: (951) 677-7751 Website: www.cityofwildomar.org Wildomar CA 92595 City Clerk: Debbie Lee Fax: (951) 698-1463 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org