Unreasonable Force in “Terry Stop” Gives Rise to Officer Liability

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Quarter Million Dollar Verdict to Richmond Police Officer Wesley Moore, represented by Civil Rights Attorneys Tom Roberts and Andrew Bodoh.

On January 30, 2013, a Richmond jury awarded a $250,000 to Richmond police officer Wesley Moore against a junior patrol officer for battery arising from a August 10, 2010 stop in South Richmond.  He was represented by Civil Rights Attorneys Tom Roberts and Andrew Bodoh.    At the traffic stop, Wesley Moore asked the junior patrol officer to explain to him the reason that he had been pulled over.  Officer Moore challenged each of the explanations offered. Officer Moore did not identify himself as an officer on paid administrative leave related to the justified discharge of his weapon as a SWAT Sniper.  He was ordered out of his van by the patrolman.  Officer Moore testified that the patrolman then forcefully shoved him against the side of his van and then jumped on his back.  Officer Moore leaned over under the weight of the patrolman which combined with the patrolman’s momentum, resulted in the patrol officer landing on his back.   The court rejected Officer Moore’s contention that the stop was not legitimate.  However, Officer Moore contended that even under a “Terry Stop” the officer would not be authorized or justified to use excessive force upon him or to jump on his back.   Under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), the court ruled that the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures is not violated when a police officer stops a suspect on the street and frisks him without probable cause to arrest, if the police officer has a reasonable articulable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime and has a reasonable belief that the person “may be armed and presently dangerous.”  The video from the dash camera in the patrol officer’s car was not available due to alleged equipment malfunctions.  Officer Moore testified that following this incident he was upset, embarrassed and suffered chest pains and that not a day passed without thinking about this incident.  Richmond Police Officer Moore is a member of SWAT, a K-9 officer and an instructor for the Richmond Police Academy.  Officer Moore stated “I’ve waited a long time for a jury to set the record straight.”

 

(Richmond Circuit Court Case no. CL10-5385-6)

Counsel for Plaintiff Officer Wesley Moore:

Thomas H. Roberts, Esq.
tom.roberts@robertslaw.org
Andrew T. Bodoh, Esq.
andrew.bodoh@robertslaw.org
Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, P.C.
105 South 1st Street
Richmond, VA 23219
T 804.783.2000
F 804.783.2105

 

CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE.  CASE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE UNDERTAKEN BY THE LAWYER