California Cops Who Allegedly Stole Over $225,000 Can't Be Sued, Federal Court Rules

Forbes - 03-26


Two businessmen who claimed they were robbed of more than $225,000 by police in Fresno, California during an investigation into illegal gambling saw their civil rights lawsuit dismissed last week, when the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it was “not obvious” that theft by cop would violate their Fourth Amendment rights. Writing for a unanimous court, Judge Milan Smith held that even if police officers did steal (an allegation they repeatedly denied), the two men “did not have a clearly established Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from the theft of property seized pursuant to a warrant.” As a result, the officers would still be entitled to “qualified immunity” and could not be sued for damages in federal court.