308 F.3d 987 (9th Cir. 2002), 01-56021, Gallegos v. City of Los Angeles

Docket Nº:01-56021
Citation:308 F.3d 987
Party Name:Gallegos v. City of Los Angeles
Case Date:October 11, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 987

308 F.3d 987 (9th Cir. 2002)

Francisco GALLEGOS, Plaintiff-Appellant,


CITY OF LOS ANGELES; Bernard Parks, individually and as Chief of Police; Young C. Honor, Officer; Mark Cohan, Officer; Waihong Wong, Sgt., all individually and as peace officers, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 01-56021.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

October 11, 2002

Argued and Submitted June 3, 2002.

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Ellen Hammill Ellison, Los Angeles, CA, for the plaintiff-appellant.

Janet G. Bogigian, Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles, CA, for the defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California; Manuel L. Real, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-00-10556-R/AJWx.

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Before: ALARCON, SILVERMAN, and RAWLINSON, Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge SILVERMAN; Dissent by Judge RAWLINSON.

SILVERMAN, Circuit Judge.

Responding to a 911 call and mistakenly believing Francisco Gallegos to be a burglary suspect, police pulled him over, ordered him out of his truck at gunpoint, handcuffed him, and placed him in the back of a patrol car. Police then brought Gallegos to the scene of the reported incident, where it was confirmed that he was not the suspect. He was returned to his truck and released less than an hour after he was initially detained. Gallegos sued, alleging a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, and the district court granted summary judgment for defendants. We affirm. We hold that, given what the police were told about the man they were looking for, detaining Gallegos for forty-five to sixty minutes to ascertain whether he was the individual wanted for attempted burglary fell within the bounds of a permissible investigatory stop.


On July 4, 1999, around 6:15 p.m., Jessica Morales called 911 to report that her father was trying to break into her house at 4357 Melbourne Ave., Los Angeles. Morales told police she had obtained a restraining order against her father, whom she described as a Hispanic male wearing a red shirt and blue pants. The Los Angles Police Department classified the call as a burglary and dispatched officers Stephen Cornell and William Carey to the area in a helicopter.

Across the street from where Morales lived, at 4356 Melbourne Ave., Francisco Gallegos was leaving his daughter's house just as the police helicopter approached. Gallegos, who is Hispanic, wore a red shirt and tan shorts. He walked to the curb, got in his pickup truck, and drove off. From the air, Cornell and Carey saw Gallegos get in his truck and thought that he was Morales's father. They requested that officers on the ground stop and detain him.

LAPD officers Young Honor and Mark Cohan responded and pulled Gallegos over a few miles away. They ordered him from his truck at gunpoint, handcuffed him, and placed him in the back of the police car. Gallegos obeyed all police commands and cooperated fully. Honor and Cohan neither asked Gallegos who he was nor examined his license or registration to confirm his identity. All Honor and Cohan knew was that a Hispanic man in a red shirt (they had apparently not been told about the blue pants) had forcibly tried to enter a home in violation of a restraining order, and they were told by the helicopter officers that Gallegos was believed to be that person.

Honor and Cohan brought Gallegos back to Melbourne Ave., where a neighbor confirmed that he was not the man who was trying to break into the Morales home. Gallegos's family emerged from their residence and, seeing him handcuffed and in the back of a police car, became upset and demanded his release. Gallegos was un-cuffed, and Honor and Cohan's supervisor, Sergeant Waihong Wong, came to the scene to assist and to discuss the incident with Gallegos's family. Forty-five minutes to an hour after he was initially detained, Gallegos was taken back to his truck and released.

Gallegos sued the City of Los Angeles, Police Chief Bernard Parks, and Officers Cohan, Wong, and Honor over his detention. He alleged deprivation of constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law claims. Gallegos moved for summary judgment, relying primarily on admissions by Cohan and Honor obtained during discovery in which they admitted to

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having "arrested" Gallegos. Defendants successfully moved to withdraw these admissions, then moved for summary judgment themselves. The district court granted defendants' summary judgment motion, holding that Gallegos's detention was supported by reasonable suspicion and did not exceed the limits imposed by the Fourth Amendment. Gallegos now argues that the district court erred in (1) holding that Gallegos's detention was legal, and (2) allowing defendants to withdraw the admissions.


We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We review a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo. Weiner v. San Diego County, 210 F.3d 1025, 1028 (9th Cir. 2000). Summary judgment is appropriate if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, there are no genuine issues of material fact and the district court correctly applied the relevant substantive law. Allen v. City of Los Angeles, 66 F.3d 1052, 1056 (9th Cir. 1995). A trial court's evidentiary rulings in the context of summary judgment are reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Doe ex rel. Rudy-Glanzer v. Glanzer, 232 F.3d 1258, 1263 (9th Cir. 2000).


A. Legality of Gallegos's Detention

"The Fourth Amendment prohibits 'unreasonable searches and seizures' by the Government, and its protections extend to brief investigatory stops of persons or vehicles that fall...

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