Buckle Up or Get a Beating

Los Angeles County Sheriff's patchHere’s why it’s better to buckle up when driving.   A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy pepper sprayed and used his baton on a 46-year-old, black  probation officer during a traffic stop for an unfastened seatbelt.   Mark Anthony Young had disobeyed the officer’s orders to get back in his pickup truck.  Young said he preferred to sit on the curb and finish eating his snack of broccoli and a tomato.

Young sued the county and the officer claiming false imprisonment and excessive use of force in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.  The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel dismissed the false imprisonment claim but reinstated Young’s claim of excessive force and negligence, sending the case back to U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real in Los Angeles.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, wrote for the three-judge panel that Young “asserts facts that amount to a textbook violation of his Fourth Amendment rights: the use of significant force without warning against an individual who committed only minor misdemeanors; who posed no apparent threat to officer or public safety; and who was not seeking to flee, even though a variety of less intrusive alternatives to the use of such force were available.”

Deputy Richard Wells stopped Young in February 2007 while Young drove his truck to the gym.   Young gave Wells his driver’s license and proof of insurance but couldn’t find the registration.  After a search he got out of the car, walked to Wells’s motorcycle, handed him the registration and sat on the curb to eat his vegetables.

Wells ordered Young back into his truck but according to the audio recording Young declined saying he didn’t feel like sitting in the truck.

After a series of orders, Wells approached Young from behind and ultimately sprayed him although Young tried to back away repeatedly saying he too was an “officer of the law.”  Wells responded by hitting him several times with the baton and ordering him to the ground, according to the court.

 Case:  Young v. County of Los Angeles,  No. 09-56372

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