134 F.3d 1362 (8th Cir. 1998), 97-1894, Olinger v. Larson

Docket Nº:97-1894.
Citation:134 F.3d 1362
Party Name:John Steven Thomas OLINGER, Appellant, v. Dennis J. LARSON; City of Sioux of South Dakota Falls; Terry Satterlee, Appellees.
Case Date:January 28, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 1362

134 F.3d 1362 (8th Cir. 1998)

John Steven Thomas OLINGER, Appellant,

v.

Dennis J. LARSON; City of Sioux of South Dakota Falls;

Terry Satterlee, Appellees.

No. 97-1894.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

January 28, 1998

Submitted Nov. 20, 1997.

Rehearing and Suggestion for Rehearing En Banc Denied March 4, 1998.

Page 1363

Thomas J. Welk, Sioux Falls, SD, argued (Roger A. Sudbeck, on the brief), for appellant.

Timothy R. Shattuck, Sioux Falls, SD, argued (Gary P. Thimsen, on the brief), for appellee.

Before BEAM, HEANEY and BRIGHT, Circuit Judges.

BRIGHT, Circuit Judge.

John Olinger filed this civil rights action against the arresting officer and the chief of police of the Sioux Falls Police Department, as well as the City of Sioux Falls, claiming

Page 1364

the defendants violated his civil rights by arresting and detaining him without probable cause as an alleged bank robber and by failing to immediately investigate certain exculpatory leads before authorities announced Olinger's arrest to the media. The district court dismissed Olinger's entire action based upon a finding of qualified immunity for the arresting and supervising officers. Olinger timely appealed. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

We reiterate a portion of the undisputed factual background as stated in the district court's opinion. On Saturday, May 14, 1994, an unidentified male entered the First Bank of South Dakota branch in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, approached bank teller Loreli Allen, told her he had a gun and demanded money. After Allen handed the robber $258.00, the robber exited the bank.

Several city police officers, along with an F.B.I. special agent arrived at the bank to investigate the robbery. The officers determined that the robbery occurred at 11:20 a.m., on May 14, 1994. The bank's video surveillance camera time-stamped the videotape of the incident, indicating that the robbery occurred at 11:26 a.m. However, two days later, bank security officials determined that the bank video equipment incorrectly set the time, and that the robbery probably occurred between 11:00 and 11:10 a.m.

Allen described the robber as a white male, 5'6"' to 5'9"' in height, brown hair, no facial hair, slender build, 25 to 35 years of age, 145 to 155 pounds, wearing dark pants and a green nylon jacket. Allen stated that the robber resembled bank customer Kevin Olinger, but maintained that she did not think it actually was Kevin Olinger. In sharp contrast to Allen's description of the robber, the surveillance tape showed a robber with a dark moustache who was wearing a white or light-colored baseball cap and light-colored pants.

Officer Severson, Officer Mattson, and Sergeant Gullickson sought to interview Kevin Olinger at his parents' home in Sioux Falls. The officers asked Kevin Olinger to step out on the front porch to discuss the bank robbery. As they were discussing the bank robbery, Officer Severson saw an unidentified man (later identified as John Olinger) talking on the telephone inside the house. When the man on the telephone saw the officers, he stepped around the corner of the room out of sight. Kevin Olinger's father joined Kevin on the front porch, where both men became very angry and threatened to sue the officers. Shortly thereafter, the man who had been talking on the telephone left the house without speaking to anyone and drove away in his vehicle. The officers noted the license plate number because they considered the man's behavior suspicious in light of the activity taking place at the Olinger home. After interviewing Kevin, the officers eliminated Kevin as a suspect. As the officers were leaving, Kevin stated to them that he was obviously innocent because he wore glasses whereas the bank robber did not. The officers maintain that the man leaving the house was not wearing glasses and that they had never informed Kevin that the bank robber did not wear glasses.

After the three officers returned to the bank, Sergeant Gullickson viewed the videotape for the first time, and immediately concluded that the man on the tape was the man he had just seen leaving the Olinger residence. Officer Severson, who was not present when Sergeant Gullickson viewed the surveillance tape, was then asked to watch the tape. Upon viewing the tape, Officer Severson also immediately concluded that the robber was the man who left the Olinger residence. Detectives Larson and Hattervig then went to the Olinger home and questioned Kevin Olinger's mother. She informed them that the man who left the house was Kevin's brother, John Olinger (hereinafter "Olinger"), and that he lived in Hartford, South Dakota.

The police officers waited...

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