Topic: Qualified Immunity granted for right not being clearly established.
Based on a report by the burglary victim, who was Goffin’s uncle, Officer Ashcraft tried to arrest Goffin for burglary and stealing handguns, bullets, and prescription pain medication. Before the arrest, several witnesses told Ashcraft that Goffin was armed, possibly intoxicated, and dangerous. When Goffin broke free from arrest, fled toward a group of bystanders, and moved as though he was reaching into his waistband, Ashcraft shot him once in the back. Goffin claimed that he was patted down by another officer (Officer Hines) just before he fled. The pat-down revealed nothing as the officer failed to discover that Goffin was carrying a loaded magazine and extra bullets. Officer Hines claims that Goffin fled before he completed the pat-down. Stolen guns were discovered within reach of where Goffin had been sitting in a car, but Goffin did not have a weapon on him.
Focusing on the second prong of the qualified immunity analysis, the Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the officers because it was not clearly established at the time of the shooting that a pat-down that removes nothing from a suspect eliminates an officer’s probable cause that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm.
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