The Indiana Supreme court threw out Keion Gaddie's conviction for Resisting Law Enforcement after unanimously concluding that police did not have probable cause to detain the man. This decision will likely change the way police officers throughout the state conduct themselves in situations where no crimes have been committed. In many jurisdictions; however, police officers are not properly trained, so citizens must be diligent in understanding their rights when dealing with law enforcement.
"To avoid conflict with the Fourth Amendment, Indiana code section 35-44.1-3-1(a)(3), the statute defining the offense of Resisting Law Enforcement by fleeing after being ordered to stop must be construed to require that a law enforcement officer's order to stop be based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Under the facts and circumstances of this case, a reasonable trier of fact could not have found that the officer's order to stop was based on such probable cause or reasonable suspicion. The evidence was thus insufficient to convict the defendant of the crime of Resisting Law Enforcement by fleeing a police order to stop. We reverse the judgment of the trial court," read the conclusion.
It all began on August 4, 2012 when IMPD Officer Jeffery Newlin responded to a report of a "disturbance" at an Indianapolis residence. When the officer arrived he saw about eight people, including the defendant, standing on the front porch walking along a side yard toward the back. Officer Newlin ordered the group to return to the front yard so he could watch them until back-up arrived; however, Gaddie continued walking toward an alley. Officer Newlin followed him, screaming at him to stop; however, Gaddie continued to walk ignoring the commands of the officer.
Gaddie was charged with Resisting Law Enforcement by fleeing even though the officer admitted that he had not seen the defendant or anyone else commit a crime prior to ordering Gaddie to stop. The defendant testified that he lived at the residence where the incident occurred. The trial court found the defendant guilty at the bench trial.
The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, and the IMPD asked the Indiana Supreme Court to hear the case. The Indiana Supreme Court justices unanimously sided with the Indiana Court of Appeals in deciding that Gaddie's arrest was not warranted since he committed no crime and was under no obligation to obey the commands of the police officer to stop.
"We note that the evidence clearly establishes that the defendant disregarded and walked away from a law enforcement officer who had adequately identified himself. Because the defendant's argument focuses on whether the defendant had a duty to stop, we view his claim as alleging insufficient evidence to prove the element "after the officer has ... ordered the person to stop," wrote Justice Brent Dickson.
"The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that the right of the people to be secure in their persons against unreasonable search and seizure shall not be violated...At minimum, the government's seizure of a citizen must rest on specific, articulable facts that lead an officer to reasonably suspect that criminal activity is afoot."
Later in the decision, Justice Dickson writes, "A person's well-established freedom to walk about is thus violated when that person is subjected to a statute that makes it a criminal offense to decline a police order to stop. To hold that a citizen may be criminally prosecuted for fleeing after being ordered to stop by a law enforcement officer lacking reasonable suspicion or probable cause to command such an involuntary detention would undermine longstanding search and seizure precedent that establishes the principle that an individual has a right to ignore police and go about his business."
"We agree with the State that the language of the Resisting Law Enforcement statute, on its face, does not expressly require that the order to stop by lawful. Literally applied, however, the 'after the officer has ... ordered the person to stop' element of the statute, if applied in the absence of probable cause or reasonable suspicion, constitutes an unreasonable detention and impairs a citizen's 'right to ignore the police and go about his business..."
We hope that police department leaders throughout Indiana will educate all Indiana police officers about this ruling so that fundamental rights of unsuspecting citizens will no longer be violated, because of a perceived conflict between a mere statute of the state and that of the United States constitution.
This apparent conflict occurs too often throughout our state.
You can read the entire ruling at this link.