Appeals court rules Hillsboro police didn't violate man's rights
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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that three Hillsboro police officers didn't violate any clear established constitutional rights of a man they arrested in 2014 for a crime he didn't commit.
The three appeals court judges ruled the police officers are entitled to qualified immunity, meaning they can't be held personally liable for damages.
The appeals court's ruling overturns the district court's decision.
"After a review of the relevant case law, we cannot conclude that the Individual Defendants violated a clearly established constitutional right," the appeals court judges wrote in their opinion. "The district court erred in denying qualified immunity to the Individual Defendants."
Two federal judges in Oregon ruled previously that Hillsboro police detectives David Bonn and Brian Wilber, as well as Sgt. Ted Schrader, violated the constitutional rights of Adam Horstman, who officers arrested and jailed for six days in connection to a pharmacy robbery he didn't commit.
The lower courts had ruled the police officers are not immune from liability — something the officers appealed.
Janet Schroer, the attorney for the police officers, said she was pleased with the appeals court's ruling.
"We are heartened that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals faithfully followed the United States Supreme Court's rulings as to the protections provided to police officers under the qualified immunity doctrine," Schroer said.
The case raised questions about the probable cause necessary for officers to make an arrest and whether they can be liable for arresting the wrong person without it.
But the 9th Circuit judges ruled in this case probable cause didn't matter.
"Even assuming that the Individual Defendants lacked probable cause to arrest Horstman, the district court erred in concluding that they violated a clearly established constitutional right," the appeals court judges wrote. "A clearly established right is one that is 'sufficiently clear that every reasonable official would have understood that what he is doing violates that right.'"