766 F.2d 1269 (8th Cir. 1985), 84-5150, Creighton v. City of St. Paul

Docket Nº:84-5150.
Citation:766 F.2d 1269
Party Name:Robert E. CREIGHTON, Jr. and Sarisse Creighton, Husband and Wife, Individually, and on Behalf of Their Minor Children, Shaunda Creighton and Tiffany Creighton, Appellants, v. The CITY OF ST. PAUL, a Municipal Corporation; Officer John DeNoma; Officer Daniels, Officer Ashton, Officer Gelao, Officer Snyder, and Officer Steffan, Whose True First Names
Case Date:July 12, 1985
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 1269

766 F.2d 1269 (8th Cir. 1985)

Robert E. CREIGHTON, Jr. and Sarisse Creighton, Husband and

Wife, Individually, and on Behalf of Their Minor

Children, Shaunda Creighton and Tiffany

Creighton, Appellants,


The CITY OF ST. PAUL, a Municipal Corporation; Officer John

DeNoma; Officer Daniels, Officer Ashton, Officer Gelao,

Officer Snyder, and Officer Steffan, Whose True First Names

are Unknown to Plaintiffs,

Russell Anderson, Appellee,

John Doe, Richard Roe, and Michael Moe, Whose True Names are

Unknown to Us.

No. 84-5150.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 12, 1985

Submitted Feb. 12, 1985.

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John P. Sheehy, Minneapolis, Minn., for appellants.

Jon M. Hopeman, Asst. U.S. Atty., Minneapolis, Minn., for appellee.

Before LAY, Chief Judge, and HEANEY and FAGG, Circuit Judges.

HEANEY, Circuit Judge.

The issue in this appeal is whether the district court erred in granting Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent Russell Anderson's motion for summary judgment on the Creightons' claim that Anderson's warrantless search of their home at night violated their rights under the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse and remand.


Because this case was dismissed on Anderson's motion for summary judgment, we set out the facts in the light most favorable to the Creightons and draw all inferences from the underlying facts in their favor. 1 Adickes v. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1608-09, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). On the night of November 11, 1983, Sarisse and Robert Creighton and their three young daughters were spending a quiet evening at their home when a spotlight suddenly flashed through their front window. Mr. Creighton opened the door and was confronted by several uniformed and plain clothes officers, many of them brandishing shotguns. All of the officers were white; the Creightons are black. Mr. Creighton claims that none of the officers responded when he asked what they wanted. Instead, by his account (as verified by a St. Paul police report), one of the officers told him to "keep his hands in sight" while the other officers rushed through the door. When Mr. Creighton asked if they had a search warrant, one of the officers told him, "We don't have a search warrant [and] don't need [one]; you watch too much TV."

Mr. Creighton asked the officers to put their guns away because his children were frightened, but the officers refused. Mrs. Creighton awoke to the shrieking of her children, and was confronted by an officer who pointed a shotgun at her. She allegedly observed the officers yelling at her three daughters to "sit their damn asses down and stop screaming." She asked the officer, "What the hell is going on?" The officer allegedly did not explain the situation and simply said to her, "Why don't you make your damn kids sit on the couch and make them shut up."

One of the officers asked Mr. Creighton if he had a red and silver car. As Mr. Creighton led the officers downstairs to his

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garage, where his maroon Oldsmobile was parked, one of the officers punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground, and causing him to bleed from the mouth and forehead. Mr. Creighton alleges that he was attempting to move past the officer to open the garage door when the officer panicked and hit him. The officer claims that Mr. Creighton attempted to grab his shotgun, even though Mr. Creighton was not a suspect in any crime and had no contraband in his home or on his person. Shaunda, the Creighton's ten-year-old daughter, witnessed the assault and screamed for her mother to come help. She claims that one of the officers then hit her.

Mrs. Creighton phoned her mother, but an officer allegedly kicked and grabbed the phone and told her to "hang up that damn phone." She told her children to run to their neighbor's house for safety. The children ran out and a plain clothes officer chased them. The Creightons' neighbor allegedly told Mrs. Creighton that the officer ran into her house and grabbed Shaunda by the shoulders and shook her. The neighbor allegedly told the officer, "Can't you see she's in shock; leave her alone and get out of my house." Mrs. Creighton's mother later brought Shaunda to the emergency room at Children's Hospital for an arm injury caused by the officer's rough handling.

During the melee, family members and friends began arriving at the Creightons' home. Mrs. Creighton claims that she was embarrassed in front of her family and friends by the invasion of their home and their rough treatment as if they were suspects in a major crime. At this time, she again asked Anderson for a search warrant. He allegedly replied, "I don't need a damn search warrant when I'm looking for a fugitive." The officers did not discover the allegedly unspecified "fugitive" at the Creightons' home or any evidence whatsoever that he had been there or that the Creightons were involved in any type of criminal activity. Nonetheless, the officers then arrested and handcuffed Mr. Creighton for obstruction of justice and brought him to the police station where he was jailed overnight, then released without being charged.

The Creightons claim that it was not until during or shortly after the melee that they learned the officers were looking for Vadaain Dixon, Mrs. Creighton's brother, who, unbeknownst to the Creightons, was a suspect in an armed robbery committed several hours earlier that afternoon. They learned that the officers, before arriving at the Creightons' home, had made warrantless searches of the home of Iris Dixon, the mother of Vadaain Dixon and Mrs. Creighton, and the home of Minnie Dixon, the grandmother of Vadaain Dixon and Mrs. Creighton. Anderson claims that he had probable cause to search the homes of Vadaain Dixon's relatives, that it would have been too difficult to get a search warrant because it was nighttime on Veteran's Day, and that he believed that exigent circumstances justified the searches without a search warrant.

The Creightons, individually and on behalf of their children, Shaunda and Tiffany Creighton, then brought this action for compensatory and punitive damages against the City of St. Paul, six St. Paul police officers, FBI agent Russell Anderson, and others unknown to them. The Creightons alleged causes of action under the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S.Ct. 1999, 29 L.Ed.2d 619 (1971), under 42 U.S.C. Secs. 1983 and 1985, and under the tort theories of intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment, and negligence. The Creightons brought their action in state court, but it was removed to federal court pursuant to defendant Anderson's petition under 28 U.S.C. Secs. 1346 and 1442.

Anderson failed to file an answer, but moved for summary judgment. The district

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court granted the motion 2 on the theory that Anderson was entitled to qualified immunity under Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982) because, in substance, his warrantless search of the Creightons' home was reasonable. 3


A. Introduction.

Recently, in Welsh v. Wisconsin, --- U.S. ----, 104 S.Ct. 2091, 80 L.Ed.2d 732 (1984), the Supreme Court reiterated:

It is axiomatic that "the physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed." * * * And a principal protection against unnecessary intrusions into private dwellings is the warrant requirement imposed by the Fourth Amendment on agents of the government who seek to enter the home for purposes of search or arrest. * * * It is not surprising, therefore, that the Court has recognized, as "a 'basic principle of Fourth Amendment law[,]' that searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable." Payton v. New York, 445 U.S., at 586 [100...

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