Quick Summary: An officer’s lack of memory of an event does not mean that a reasonable suspicion to conduct a Terry Stop did not exist in that event and other evidence can be used to establish reasonable suspicion.

In this civil suit the plaintiffs sued the City of Chicago and officers for violating his Fourth Amendment rights when they conducted a Terry Stop of the vehicle in which they were traveling. The officers stated they did not remember the stop that had happened a year previously. The defendants argued that their lack of memory meant that reasonable suspicion could not exist and that they should not be able to rely on other evidence to establish that it did.  The Seventh Circuit disagreed:

“Before us, the plaintiffs have repeatedly suggested that the defendants’ failure of memory is a concession of liability. In other words, they maintain that if a police officer doesn’t remember a stop now, reasonable suspicion could not have justified it at the time. But the Fourth Amendment does not govern how an officer proves that he had reasonable suspicion for a Terry stop; he can rely on evidence other than his memory to establish what he knew when the stop occurred. The police report demonstrates that King knew that the suspects in the shooting had been identified as three black men driving a grey car, and the cell-phone video shows him giving the shooting as the reason for the stop.”

To read or download the full decision CLICK HERE