5 F.3d 583 (1st Cir. 1993), 93-1370, Crooker v. Metallo

Docket Nº:93-1370.
Citation:5 F.3d 583
Party Name:Stephen S. CROOKER and Pamela A. Crooker, Plaintiffs, Appellees, v. Paul METALLO, et al., Defendants, Appellants.
Case Date:September 29, 1993
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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5 F.3d 583 (1st Cir. 1993)

Stephen S. CROOKER and Pamela A. Crooker, Plaintiffs, Appellees,


Paul METALLO, et al., Defendants, Appellants.

No. 93-1370.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

September 29, 1993

Submitted June 25, 1993.

Stephen S. Crooker and Pamela A. Crooker on brief pro se.

Scott Harshbarger, Atty. Gen. and William J. Meade, Asst. Atty. Gen., Boston, MA, on brief for defendants, appellants.

Before BREYER, Chief Judge, SELYA and BOUDIN, Circuit Judges.

SELYA, Circuit Judge.

The issue presented in this appeal is whether the defendants, parole officers, violated a clearly established constitutional right of which a reasonable person would have known when, in August 1989, they arrested plaintiff Stephen S. Crooker at his home for sundry parole violations. The officers conducted a protective sweep incident to the arrest. Stephen Crooker and his wife, Pamela, brought suit, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, alleging that the search violated their Fourth Amendment rights. Particularly, they allege that, during the sweep, an officer

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lifted their mattress from its box spring and looked between the two. 1 The district court denied the defendants' claim of qualified immunity. The defendants appeal. We reverse.

When defendants executed the arrest warrant for Stephen Crooker, they "possesse[d] a reasonable belief based on specific and articulable facts which, taken together with the rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant[ed] the officer[s] in believing," that the Crookers' home harbored an individual, one Vincent Tondryk, who "pos[ed] a danger to the officer[s] or others." Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325, 327, 110 S.Ct. 1093, 1094, 108 L.Ed.2d 276 (1990) (citations omitted); see alsoMichigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1049-50, 103 S.Ct. 3469, 3480-81, 77 L.Ed.2d 1201 (1983); Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 1880, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). This reasonable belief permitted a protective sweep of the premises, i.e., "a quick and limited search of premises, incident to [the] arrest and conducted to protect the safety of police officers or others." Buie, 494 U.S. at 327, 110 S.Ct. at 1094; see alsoUnited States v. Curzi, 867 F.2d 36, 39 n. 2 (1st Cir.1989). The defendants, therefore, were justified in searching the Crookers' home for Tondryk and looking in places where Tondryk might have been hiding. Although the district court so found, it nevertheless denied the defendants' claim of qualified immunity on the ground that the search between the mattress and box spring was not within the proper confines of a protective sweep because it would not be reasonable to expect a person to be hiding in those environs. Thus, the court reasoned, the search was...

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