Estate of Walker v. Wallace, 020818 FED8, 17-1058

Docket Nº:17-1058
Opinion Judge:ARNOLD, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Estate of Leon Walker, Jr.; Wanda Jean Millbrook; Correll Taylor Millbrook; Victor Wayne Millbrooks, Jr. Plaintiffs-Appellees v. Building Inspector Hershell Wallace, in his individual capacity Defendant-Appellant Detective Ronald E. Vaughn, a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department police officer in his individual capacity; City of St. Louis, ...
Judge Panel:Before SMITH, Chief Judge, ARNOLD and KELLY, Circuit Judges. KELLY, Circuit Judge, concurring.
Case Date:February 08, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Estate of Leon Walker, Jr.; Wanda Jean Millbrook; Correll Taylor Millbrook; Victor Wayne Millbrooks, Jr. Plaintiffs-Appellees

v.

Building Inspector Hershell Wallace, in his individual capacity Defendant-Appellant

Detective Ronald E. Vaughn, a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department police officer in his individual capacity; City of St. Louis, Missouri Defendants

No. 17-1058

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 8, 2018

          Submitted: December 13, 2017

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis

          Before SMITH, Chief Judge, ARNOLD and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

          ARNOLD, Circuit Judge.

         One morning, a SWAT team raided a St. Louis house in which the plaintiffs lived to execute a search warrant. According to the warrant affidavit, a detective suspected that the house contained heroin, illegal firearms, and drug-trafficking paraphernalia. The team knocked on the door, yelled "police, " and quickly began striking the door with a battering ram. The team also tossed a "flash bang device" through a window and into the house, and after gaining entry, the team handcuffed the residents who were present and brought them into a front room. The search turned up marijuana, some drug paraphernalia, and three firearms, which the plaintiffs' attorney characterized as some old firearms and some personal-use marijuana.

         The detective then called for a building inspector to inspect the house under a city program called "Project 87." See Saint Louis, Mo., Code of Ordinances ch. 25.32.020, § 104.6. Under that program, police notify a building inspector of properties that constitute a "nuisance, " which is defined as a code violation that "if not promptly corrected will constitute a fire hazard or a serious threat to the life, health or safety of the occupants of the building, structure, or portion thereof in which the violations occur." If the owner or occupant of the building refuses to permit a building inspection, the building inspector must immediately condemn the building and issue an order to vacate, and if the owners or occupants refuse to leave, the police must immediately remove them. The detective testified that it was police-department policy to request a Project 87 inspection routinely after a search warrant was executed. He did not identify any potential "nuisance" before he requested a Project 87 inspection in this case.

         Building inspector Hershell Wallace arrived after receiving the inspection referral. He testified that he did not notice any potential building-code violations when he arrived except for the window that the police themselves had just broken. He approached one of the residents, 29-year-old Victor Millbrooks, and asked him to sign a consent-to-search form. At this point the parties' accounts begin to diverge, and since we are reviewing an order denying Wallace's motion for summary judgment, we construe the facts in a light most favorable to the house's residents. See Aulick v. Skybridge Ams., Inc., 860 F.3d 613, 620 (8th Cir. 2017). According to Millbrooks, he was handcuffed for no more than ninety minutes while the SWAT team searched the house, and the police uncuffed him only to sign the consent-to-search form and to use the restroom. Millbrooks testified that Wallace "demanded" that Millbrooks sign the consent-to-search form by saying that "[b]asically if you don't sign this, I guess the house . . . forecloses or something was going to happen with the house. We would get put out, something like that, " so "it wasn't like I ha[d] an option." He also testified that no one directed any threats toward him. Millbrooks then signed the form and Wallace conducted the inspection, which turned up only minor violations.

         When the residents of the house...

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