4/2/2010Arizona: Federal Court Denies Summary Relief To Innocent Motorist Stranded By Cop
Preliminary ruling favors Mesa, Arizona cops who stranded injured, innocent motorist in a dangerous neighborhood.
A motorist was left with little recourse after police grabbed his truck and stranded him, alone, on the side of the road in a dangerous Mesa, Arizona neighborhood -- even though he had not done anything wrong. US District Court Judge David G Campbell issued a preliminary ruling last Friday that Ted Mink, 47, had no right to sue the city over his treatment at the hands of the police.
Mink's woes began when he received a speeding ticket in London, Ohio in November 2006. He paid the citation in full within two weeks. Ohio officials nonetheless improperly demanded that the Arizona motor vehicles department suspend his driver's license. The state complied on March 5, 2007 without providing any notice to Mink. On November 17, 2008, Officers Scott Sorensen and Joseph Trafan pulled Mink over while he was headed home from a visit to his podiatrist who had been examining a serious heel injury he suffered while working on a motorcycle. The officers at first accused Mink of driving with a cracked windshield, but when his license showed up in the police database as suspended, the officers decided to impound Mink's truck. Sorensen and Trafan then wrote four separate tickets to Mink for not having a license, not having insurance, having a broken windshield and a "broken seatbelt." Mink tried to explain he was fully insured and had a valid license, but the officers ignored him.
The police then dumped Mink on the side of the road in a high-crime neighborhood, even though Mink was under doctor's orders to avoid walking for any significant distance. Mink even had paperwork on hand to prove it. The officers did not care, refusing even to give him a ride home. When Mink attempted to hitchhike, he was told that he would be arrested if he did not cease. Mink was forced to walk several miles, further damaging his heel.
"Since that incident it seemed that he began to do progressively worse and he underwent revision of the surgery and removal of bone fragments and exostectomy," Mink's podiatrist, Dr Douglas Griffin, explained.
After walking in pain for more than an hour, Mink was able to call a friend for a ride. Mink was then able to resolve his license issue with the motor vehicle department. When he tried to retrieve his truck from the impound lot, however, he was given the run around. Acting as his own attorney, Mink sued the city of Mesa and the individual police officers over what he called a violation of his constitutional rights and for the infliction of emotional distress. Judge Campbell pounced on a number of technical errors in Mink's pleading and stated that he saw no violation.
"At worst, the officers intentionally left a man with a serious heel injury on the side of a road in the middle of the day, but near several gas stations where he could presumably call for help, pointed a weapon at him when it appeared he might assault the driver of a tow truck that had been called and refused to give him a ride home," Campbell wrote. "This conduct, even if actionable on other grounds, is not so extreme as to go beyond all bounds of decency and be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable."
Campbell threw out all but one of Mink's arguments, leaving only the possibility that a jury could decide whether the officers acted with "deliberate indifference" to Mink's plight. Mink intends to amend his complaint to continue the fight.
A copy of Judge Campbell's order is available in a 60k PDF file at the source link below. Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Mink's injury happened while riding a motorcycle.