Leaderboard 728 X 90

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Evidence is overwhelming that Missouri sheriff Jim Arnott committed a federal crime by ordering my wife's arrest and imprisonment without probable cause

Jim Arnott, sheriff of Greene County, Missouri, almost certainly committed a federal crime when he ordered my wife, Carol, to be arrested and imprisoned in the aftermath of an unlawful eviction last September 9. At least one of Arnott's deputies also likely committed a federal crime when he slammed Carol to the ground and yanked on her arms so viciously that her left humerus was snapped in two. (See X-ray below.)

Both probable crimes evolve from the right to be free from unreasonable seizures, which is supposed to be guaranteed to Americans by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As we showed in a previous post, unlawful seizures can become criminal by violating 18 U.S.C. 242 (Deprivation of rights under color of law). (Include link to previous post.)

A seizure, of which an arrest is considered the "quintessential" example, is constitutional only if the officer has a "sufficient legal basis" for making it--in other words, he must have "probable cause."

Did Arnott have probable cause to order Carol seized for allegedly assaulting a law enforcement officer? When you study Missouri law on the subject, the answer is: "Not even close."

Did the deputy who appeared to be primarily responsible for brutalizing Carol and breaking her arm have probable cause to seize her? Again, the facts and the law lead to only one answer: "Not even close."

Greene County deputy Scott Harrison drove Carol in a squad car to the county jail and informed her that she was facing a felony charge of assaulting an officer, with a likely bond of $100,000. This apparently was based on Arnott's instructions. Carol, handcuffed behind her back with a shattered left arm, was in excruciating pain, and someone at the jail finally realized that she might be seriously injured. Carol was taken to nearby Cox North Medical Center, where X-rays showed a break so severe that it would require trauma surgery.

After realizing that Carol was badly hurt, while none of his deputies appeared to have a scratch on them, Arnott apparently decided that bringing assault charges against Carol--when she actually was the victim of an assault--might not be such a good idea.

Did Arnott have "sufficient legal basis"--any basis at all--for his claim that Carol had assaulted a law-enforcement officer. No, he did not--not for a felony or a misdemeanor.

Under Missouri law, two forms of assault--first and second degree--are felonies. The notion that Carol committed either of these would be laughable--if the repercussions were not so serious. (Arnott watched his deputy beat up Carol from about five feet away; I witnessed the same event from about 15 feet away.) A $100,000 bond would have meant a payment of $10,000 to get Carol's release from custody. I'm not sure how I would have come up with that money, so it's likely Carol would have been in jail for months--for a "crime" she did not commit--if her arm had not been broken.

The description for first-degree assault of a law-enforcement officer is found at Missouri Revised Statutes 565.081. Here is the gist of it:

A person commits the crime of assault of a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, emergency personnel, highway worker in a construction zone or work zone, utility worker, cable worker, or probation and parole officer in the first degree if such person attempts to kill or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to a law enforcement officer, corrections officer, emergency personnel, highway worker in a construction zone or work zone, utility worker, cable worker, or probation and parole officer.
It's hard to envision even an ethically challenged individual, such as Jim Arnott, to seriously claim that Carol tried to kill or cause serious physical injury to an officer on September 9, 2015.

The description for second-degree assault of a law-enforcement officer is found at Missouri Revised Statutes 565.082. This section is quite a bit longer than the one for first-degree assault, but here is the key language (with some repetitive language removed, for easier reading):

A person commits the crime of assault of a law enforcement officer . . . in the second degree if such person:

(1) Knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical injury to a law enforcement officer . . .  by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument;

(2) Knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical injury to a law enforcement officer . . . by means other than a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument;

(3) Recklessly causes serious physical injury to a law enforcement officer . . . ; or

(4) While in an intoxicated condition or under the influence of controlled substances or drugs, operates a motor vehicle or vessel in this state and when so operating, acts with criminal negligence to cause physical injury to a law enforcement officer . . . ;

(5) Acts with criminal negligence to cause physical injury to a law enforcement officer . . . by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument;

(6) Purposely or recklessly places a law enforcement officer . . .  in apprehension of immediate serious physical injury; or

(7) Acts with criminal negligence to create a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to a law enforcement officer. . . . 

Carol had no deadly weapons or dangerous instruments, she caused no physical injury (serious or otherwise), she was not intoxicated or under the influence of controlled substances . . . well, you get the idea -- none of these even come close to applying.

X-ray of Carol Shuler's broken arm
prior to surgical repair
According to Deputy Harrison's statements to Carol, Arnott had no intention of charging her with misdemeanor assault. But let's look at third-degree assault of a law-enforcement officer anyway, as found at Missouri Revised Statutes 565.083. Here is the gist of it (again, with repetitive language removed for easier reading):

A person commits the crime of assault of a law enforcement officer . . . in the third degree if:
(1) Such person recklessly causes physical injury to a law enforcement officer . . . ;

(2) Such person purposely places a law enforcement officer . . . in apprehension of immediate physical injury;

(3) Such person knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical contact with a law enforcement officer . . . without the consent of the law enforcement officer. . . .

Evidence indicates that Carol caused no physical injury to anyone. She had been given permission to enter the apartment to retrieve personal belongings, and that's what she was trying to do--she didn't purposely come in contact with an officer or anyone else. Officers initiated contact with her, not the other way around. Even as loose as the language is in this section, Arnott had no probable cause to believe Carol had committed even a misdemeanor assault -- as his own actions indicate because he apparently was planning on a felony charge.

As for the officer who broke Carol's arm, there is no doubt that he seized her. Here is the definition that applies in such cases:

"[A] person is `seized' ... when, by means of physical force or a show of authority, his freedom of movement is restrained" such that, "in view of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave." United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 553-54, 100 S.Ct. 1870, 1877, 64 L.Ed.2d 497 (1980).

Did the officer have probable cause to seize Carol? Absolutely not, and his own words and actions indicate that. Never did he indicate Carol had violated any law that merited a show of physical force or authority. Never did he say she was under arrest or give any reason for slamming her to the ground and yanking on her arms.

I've had a tendency to write about this as a personal story -- Carol and I, after all, have been married for 26 years -- or a Missouri story. But it's much bigger than that. All Americans, in all states, are supposed to be free from unreasonable, violent, and bogus seizures.

When law-enforcement officers violate those rights, they cross into criminal territory.


Anonymous said...

I can't wait to hear the excuses these thugs come up with. They certainly won't take responsibility for what they did.

legalschnauzer said...

So far, it seems Arnott is playing dumb. A blogger contacted him about this incident, and he acted like he had no idea what she was talking about.

Anonymous said...

Would it be up to the FBI to investigate and arrest this SOB?

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, @10:26, that's where I think jurisdiction would lie. The FBI has major offices in Kansas City and St. Louis. I believe there is an office in Springfield, but not sure how substantial it is.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts of taking this to court...civil or criminal?

Anonymous said...

What about all of your files and notes? Did they take those, too?

Anonymous said...

Do you have a copy of a document where your landlord paid a fee directing Arnott to assist the landlord in evicting you?

legalschnauzer said...

@11:43 -- I don't have a copy of such a document. I would guess that such a fee was paid, but I'm not sure why they would give me a copy. I, however, might be able to find it.

legalschnauzer said...

I'm not sure what files and notes we still have. I've got most of the stuff I really use a lot. Some of our files probably were lost during our eviction in Alabama. Some might be in storage here or there. A lot of things I had filed electronically on the Web, and we still have those.

We're doing pretty well in terms of notes and such. Where they wiped us out was with our clothes. Landlord's "crew" stole just about every pair of shoes and clothing I owned. They were all guys, so they seemed mostly interested in swiping my stuff -- suits, dress pants and shirts, casual pants and shirts, tennis shoes, dress shoes, you name it, all gone. Carol is better off with clothing, although a lot of her stuff got lost or stolen. A neighbor saw the crew folks putting our stuff into their own pickups and driving off.

In a lot of ways, the whole thing was just a ruse to steal our stuff, I think.

legalschnauzer said...

11:18 -- I have lots of thoughts on taking this court. It will be taken to court. I will provide details in due time, here at LS.

legalschnauzer said...

A followup thought, @11:43. Under Missouri law, I believe the sheriff has a duty to assist with evictions. I don't think the landlord can do it himself, especially since it can only be done with a court order. It seems likely that the landlord does have to pay a fee, but I don't think it's a matter of requesting help. I think the sheriff has to be involved, although I imagine that usually involves one officer and not a SWAT team. Not certain about this, but this is my memory of things from researching the issue.

Anonymous said...

I think a big reason for outrage against cops is not just the way they abuse citizens, but they then turn around and lie about it. This sheriff saw your wife being beaten from five feet away, but his immediate response was to blame her. He should have been down there, asking how she was and calling for immediate medical attention. Why do a lot of people hate cops? I think a lot of it is people hate liars, and they know cops are liars.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be a hoot to see this clown sheriff in a federal prison? I would love it.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Arnott has buds with the FBI. They decided a blogger had criticized U.S. Rep. Billy Long, and that constituted a threat. Geez, Louise.


legalschnauzer said...

Oh, I'm sure Arnott has his FBI buds. I'm developing contacts with the FBI myself.

Anonymous said...

Is there still no incident report? She was transported to jail, then taken for treatment. There must be some kind of report...

legalschnauzer said...

By GCSO's own procedures, there has to be an incident report. (More on that in an upcoming post.) I will get it at some point, but it's not a high priority at the moment. One, I saw everything that happened, and so did Carol, so we aren't real interested in their version of events. Well, that's not entirely true; I am curious at what lies they come up with, but I can wait for that. Two, the last time we encountered deputies in this town, we had assault rifles pointed at as, Carol was beaten, her arm was broken, and she was taken to jail. In light of that, we aren't real anxious to walk into the sheriff's office just yet (us, unarmed; them, well armed). If we show up to get an incident report, there is nothing to keep them from roughing us up again and throwing us in jail, which is right next door. Dealing with diseased cops is kind of like dealing with a rabid dog: You had better be careful about what you do. These are desperate, diseased, scared, corrupt individuals. We aren't going to forget that.

Anonymous said...

LS...have your living arrangements taken a turn for the better? Hoping they have!

legalschnauzer said...

Yes, they are better. And we're closer to Alabama than we were before, so hopefully that's a sign of things moving in the right direction. Nice to have Missouri in the rear-view mirror.

Anonymous said...

Glad to here your living arrangements are better. That can be very difficult to deal with. Sounds like you and your wife have had a difficult time. It seems like you've had way more than your fare share of issues. Do you now why all these people are out to get you? Why did they follow you from bama to mo? They must really hate you or your reporting is uncovering issues they don't want you to cvoer...AG in AL, someone in Mo?

legalschnauzer said...

Why are all these people out to get you? First, I don't think I've ever put it in those terms, but I think I know what you mean. To know for sure, you would need to ask them. It's clear to me that my accurate reporting is making certain issues public that they don't want to be public. They can control me, like they can many MSM reporters, so they've tried to terrorize my wife and me, up to and including threatening our lives. They have no reason to hate me personally. But they hate my reporting, and they hate the fact the Web gives a journalist like myself an entirely new venue for exposing them.

Christopher said...

Mr. Shuler,

In the course of conducting research for my forthcoming federal civil rights suit against Sheriff Arnott, I came across the two articles you wrote and published that describe in detail what you and your wife experienced with Sheriff Arnott and his deputies.

Upon my reading your two published articles about the alleged criminal acts of Sheriff Jim Arnott and his deputies, I sent your articles to the Missouri Highway Patrol, and pursuant to RSMo 43.180.1, I requested a criminal investigation into Sheriff Arnott and his deputies. The superintendent, Bret Johnson, sent me a reply email announcing that he arbitrarily decided to purposefully rewrite the state law with purpose to deliberately avoid his responsibilities under the state law to direct the Missouri Highway Patrol to conduct an investigation. Instead, and which is absolutely NOT authorized by the state law, Mr. Johnson informed me that he [allegedly] forwarded the complaint to the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Patterson, to decide whether a criminal investigation will be done.

Let me be very clear. My asking for a criminal investigation was done because what I read alarmed me greatly, and because there are some similarities between what you and your wife experienced and what I have also experienced. Therefore, as a concerned citizen I believed it prudent to seek out the assistance of the Missouri Highway Patrol for a criminal investigation into the allegations you have made. I did not, am not, and will not ask that the Missouri Highway Patrol investigate my claims because I am filing a federal civil rights lawsuit instead. If the Missouri Highway Patrol or any other law enforcement agency does conduct a criminal investigation separately or in connection to your claims, they do so of their own choice and not by my request and I have informed all parties of the solution that I am pursuing to redress my grievances.

In a short time, I am filing a civil rights suit in the Springfield, Missouri federal court against Sheriff Arnott and Presiding Commissioner Bob Cirtin, under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 based on five separate counts. I will also request certification as a class action suit. While what I experienced did not involve me being evicted, or Sheriff Arnott and his deputies pulling guns on me or physically injuring me, there are nevertheless some similarities between your claims and my own. As such, it is my intent to use your two published statements in federal court to support or substantiate the need for a class action suit.

Christopher Cross

legalschnauzer said...

Interesting, Chris. Feel free to contact me at rshuler3156@gmail.com