Immunity when assisting LE

Discussion in 'Strategies, Tactics, and Training' started by atlctyslkr, Jun 18, 2006.

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  1. atlctyslkr

    atlctyslkr Member

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    I always assumed we had such a law but I didn't know where it was until it was pointed out to me.

    http://www.legis.state.ga.us/cgi-bin/gl_codes_detail.pl?code=16-3-22

    I've read many stories about people coming to the aid of law enforcement.

    I'd like this thread to be a collection of the various state laws regarding aiding law enforcment.
     
  2. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    In Illinois anyone who is asked to assist a peace officer is considered to be cloaked with that peace officers authority.

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072500050HArt%2E+107&ActID=1966&ChapAct=725%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B5%2F&ChapterID=54&ChapterName=CRIMINAL+PROCEDURE&SectionID=30017&SeqStart=16100&SeqEnd=17562&ActName=Code+of+Criminal+Procedure+of+1963%2E
    And you are permitted the same use of force.

    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072000050HArt%2E+7&ActID=1876&ChapAct=720%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B5%2F&ChapterID=53&ChapterName=CRIMINAL+OFFENSES&SectionID=60595&SeqStart=7800000&SeqEnd=9300000&ActName=Criminal+Code+of+1961%2E
    And it's also against the law to refuse to assist an officer if requested to:
    http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072000050HArt%2E+31&ActID=1876&ChapAct=720%26nbsp%3BILCS%26nbsp%3B5%2F&ChapterID=53&ChapterName=CRIMINAL+OFFENSES&SectionID=60778&SeqStart=58900000&SeqEnd=59900000&ActName=Criminal+Code+of+1961%2E
    Now before everyone straps on their CCW and puts their shotgun in their car and decides that it would be fun to go out and help the cops on a busy Saturday night, you need to look at the provision that requires the officer to request your assistance. Unless an officer asks you to help out or unless that officer is in a jam and your assistance is very obviously required, don't jump in.

    Jeff
     
  3. sacp81170a

    sacp81170a Member

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    I was gonna post the pertinent statutes from the Arkansas Code, but their server seems to be down. They're essentially the same as what Jeff outlined, especially the part about assistance being *requested*. YMMV, IANAL. However, if you see an officer gettin' his butt kicked by the side of the road on some dark and lonely night, I'm fairly certain you won't get in any trouble for stopping to help no matter what jurisdiction you happen to be in.
     
  4. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Interesting thread, keep it going, gang!

    Bob
     
  5. JasonMD85

    JasonMD85 Member

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    Im afraid to see what Marylands law is.
     
  6. BigO01

    BigO01 Member

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    Indeed !!

    There have been many times when coming home from hunting or a shooting session and have seen a lone officer on a traffic stop on a desolate road and wondered if he would like "backup" . I have always simply tried to slow down enough to watch him as he gets to the car thinking that if he were going to get shot/attacked it would be in the first few seconds of contact with the occupents of the car .

    I have always thought that by just stopping I would be distracting the officer from the situation at hand and by doing so putting his life in danger rather than protecting him .

    If you were to stop in such a situation the officer would be suspecious of you and your intentions , if he were smart he wouldn't trust you untill he had the chance to run your ID anyway .
     
  7. lastcavalier

    lastcavalier Member

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    For Virginia:

    - You must aid an officer when requested. From the Code of Virginia:
    So you have to help him, but do you get immunity? I wasn't able to find anything about a normal citizen getting the officer's immunity when assisting him, but I also couldn't find anything granting the officer himself immunity. I was able to find where officers from other jurisdictions are granted the local officer's immunity, but I still couldn't find where the local officer was granted immunity to begin with.

    ...

    After more searching, near as I can tell, sheriffs (and by extension, deputies) are not immune from criminal or civil prosecution arising from their activities in performance of their duties, but if they are found not guilty or not liable, the county will refund their legal expenses. However, I'm not a pro at this, so I could be reading this entirely incorrectly. Someone with more experience at this please correct me or elaborate.

    If you want to look, the search box for the Code of Virginia is here.

    NB: I'm not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
     
  8. WT

    WT Member

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    In NJ a private person can come to the assistance of a LEO and be exempted from criminal prosecution.

    However, the NJ private person is NOT exempted from civil liabilities while aiding a LEO.

    So ....... the chief of police and PBA give you a medal and the BG takes your house away in a civil suit for excessive force.

    Exception: merely spraying the BG with pepper spray is okay. That action is protected.

    All that aside, I haven't heard of it happening.
     
  9. mmike87

    mmike87 Member

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    It's interesting that some states which are notoriously anti-self defense still require citizens assist law enforcement.

    I for one would REFUSE to assist law enforcement in any state which makes it difficult to defend myself. This is akin to the state saying "You have no right to protect yourself, but if we (being the "state") needs your help you'd better step up. I would also refuse to do so without any immunity. Demand I put myself in a situation in which I have little or no training (law enforcement) and THEN hold me responsible for the outcome?

    Sorry, no dice.

    What if law enforcement is confiscating firearms a la New Orleans and requests your assistance? What will you do then?
     
  10. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

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    The officer's directions are also important in the action you take, communication and context impact on that.

    I remember reading a report (which I wish I bookmarked) concerning liability of an armed citizen assisting a LEO who was subdueing a suspect, at the LEO's request.

    The suspect wrangled free, the LEO shouted "Get him!", and pursuant to that direction, the armed citizen shot the suspect.

    The citizen was found liable, as the LEO meant "catch him!" or "tackle him!", which was the appropriate level of force given that state's laws intersecting with the level of crime the suspect was suspected of. (IIRC, I think it was a misdemeanor offense)
     
  11. Alex45ACP

    Alex45ACP Member

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    I don't care what the law is, there's no way I'm getting involved.
     
  12. mmike87

    mmike87 Member

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    This is a very good argument AGAINST assisting law enforcement in any state in which you do not have immunity from prosecution when doing so at the officer's request. This is a total lose proposition for the civillian and it's inappropriate for the state to demand that citizens be held accountable for their performance in matters in which they were involuntarily drawn into and have no training on.
     
  13. Zero_DgZ

    Zero_DgZ Member

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    You took the words right out of my mouth... off of my keyboard... whatever.

    Unless specifically asked by a cop to give him a hand I'm not stickin' my neck out. Also remember that this is the year 2006, people - The majority (certainly not all, but I am willing to wager at least a simple majority) of modern LEO's are personally against an armed populace and are otherwise as paranoid of lawsuits and liability as you can get. In other words, the chances of a police officer flagging you down and saying "Hey, help me nab that bank robber over there" are similar to the survival rates of snowballs in hell.

    In other words, it will never happen unless you're already good buddies with said cop. Never, ever. I'll bet you by bottom dollar.
     
  14. Biker

    Biker Member

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    I dunno, back in around 1980, give or take, a bunch of us were at the annual 4th of July gathering in a local resort town that normally has a population of 800 but can swell to 3,000 or so on this particular weekend.
    For some reason, the crowd which usually consists of tourists and college kids began to get out of hand, fights, throwing beer bottles, bullying the family types.

    There were three, maybe four County boys present and they were clearly outnumbered and not even close to being in control. Being up in the mountains with no local PD, they were in a heap. About 30 of us Scooter Tramps, without being asked and with no official signal decided to step in and "help". Amazing how quickly things settled down. Those County boys were more than grateful as were their reinforcements who arrived about an hour later.
    Since then, what had been a semi-tense situation between 1%ers and cops in this area has turned into a relationship based on mutual respect.
    When viewed objectively, we ain't all that different.
    Well, Scooter Tramps are better looking, but what the hell.



    :)

    Biker
     
  15. lastcavalier

    lastcavalier Member

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    Sorry, but I can't go along with that. 'round here, it's a small town; I know a lot of the counties and staties, and if one of them was in a bind and I could help, I'd be there for 'em. I'm not saying I'll be sitting around on a Friday night listening to the scanner, but if I see a situation that looks like it might end badly for the good guys, I'll cast my lot with 'em.

    Seems petty to sit back and fault the local boys in blue for decisions made way above their heads.
     
  16. wheelgunslinger

    wheelgunslinger Member

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    Good Post Biker!

    Jeff, there must be a huge pack of wannabes out there for you to feel the need to admonish readers: "Now before everyone straps on their CCW and puts their shotgun in their car and decides that it would be fun to go out and help the cops on a busy Saturday night...":eek: Not to mention all the "me too" posts.
    Are there really that many wannabes?
     
  17. 'Card

    'Card Member

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    This actually comes up on a fairly regular basis when I get involved in Disaster Response stuff. People get stressed and overloaded when a hurricane or flood (usually both) is headed their way, tempers get high, and so you end up with more confrontations than you'd normally expect.

    Evacuations, especially. You'd be amazed at the amount of resistance cops get when they're trying to get people to evacuate - even when doom is pretty much imminent. I think part of it is just people's natural distrust of authority and the uniform (which for the most part I think is a good thing) but they'll argue and argue and just flat dig their heels in. I think another part of it is that police are often trained to be as diplomatic and careful with their wording as possible.

    So what usually happens is that I'll pull up in front of the house, cruisers, flashing lights, people on the porch arguing. Cops give me that "Anything you can do with this fruitcake?" look, so I'll walk up and say "If you stay in this house, by this time tomorrow your family's dead bodies will be so bloated that from the air, we won't be able to tell the difference between them and all of the floating pig carcasses." (this is Eastern NC we're talking about - pigs outnumber the people)

    It's not strictly true, but it drives the point home, and probably isn't something a police officer could say. It works though. Normally that's pretty much the end of the argument.

    As far as physical confrontations, that only ever came up once, and I derived "implied consent" from the fact that the Officer was too dazed from the sucker punch to articulate a formal request for assistance. I didn't really do much, though. I got in my truck and followed the bad guy (who was fleeing on foot down an isolated country road) while talking to the cop's buddies on my cell phone.
     
  18. Manedwolf

    Manedwolf member

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    I think that from a legal standpoint, the most useful "help" you could give an officer without getting into legal hot water yourself would be to verbally offer a weapon to an underarmed or unarmed officer who needs to go into a situation you happen to be near. (Store holdup or such.)

    I don't think anyone could fault you for just making available a useful tool they could use to save lives, especially if you had a pump shotgun in the trunk and they didn't have one...that sort of thing.

    As for other sorts of cops, a show on about air marshalls had some talking anonymously, and they said that when they board the plane, they look around to note where people are that could be "allies"...people with a military haircut, people in good shape who look aware of their surroundings, all that. So I think some likely appreciate possible assistance.
     
  19. GeorgiaGlocker

    GeorgiaGlocker Member

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    Great post Atlctyslkr.

    I didn't know where that statute was either in the GA code.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  20. Charles S

    Charles S Member

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    I completely understand that sentiment. I however feel that there are situations where I, in good conscious, could not ignore a law enforcement officials need of assistance.

    In East Texas a couple of years back a female officer was being beaten by a suspect on the side of the road…a citizen assisted and probably prevented her death. I would like to think I would assist under the same circumstances.

    I don’t believe I could stand idly by and watch a law enforcement officer being beat, maimed or killed. I believe I would intervene based upon my own moral code and deal with the consequences of my actions.

    I honestly hope I am never put in a situation where it is necessary to help a law enforcement officer.

    I, for one, hope I never again have to use a gun for self defense.

    Charles
     
  21. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Member

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    I am pretty darn sure I would NOT get involved in any situation involving a LEO.
     
  22. atlctyslkr

    atlctyslkr Member

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    Maybe they should hand out this section of Georgia Law when you get your permit. They sure love to make sure you have a copy of 16-11-126,127,128 &129 before you walk out.
     
  23. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Member

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    Sure they could. How did you know that the cop wasn't on administrative leave pending termination? How do you even know he was a cop? Badges aren't hard to come by. You could easily end up with negligent entrustment or a wrongful death suit.

    Everyone is always talking about being a good witness and not getting involved except in situations like this. Yet, its situations involving undercover/uniformed cops that CCW and other instructors often use as prime examples of when you don't know who the good guy/bad guy is, and to stay out of it. There's been one situation here in TN that if you came to the assistance of the cop, you would not have been on the side of the angels.
     
  24. Hoppy590

    Hoppy590 Member

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    Personaly i would help any LEO out. and legaly iv heard some places can press charges if you dont assist in a situation where others lives may be at risk. ( this wouldnt apply to the N.O. confiscating guns situation, as its not a inprogress act)

    on the other hand, after i finished helping the LEOand when the press gets involved, i will turn into MR. 2A . and curse the states laws pointing out that the criminal still had a gun the old " when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns"
     
  25. rmgill

    rmgill Member

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    I was sitting having a BLT at Moes in Virginia Highlands about 10 years ago when I watched an officer appear across the street, rush into a store and drag a homeless woman out to discuss an issue with her. She got combative and I watched stunned unsure of what to do when the officer was clearly having problems restraining her. He wasn't in danger but it was one of those moments of "what am I supposed to do" situations. Backup arrived while I was prevaricating about what I should do and the problem was essentially solved. They took her to the ground.

    I asked a cop friend of mine after I saw this, he being an experienced and crusty old cop (now works for internal affairs) said that I could have gotten over there I could have offered my assistance and if the officer had said "Yes!, Help me taker her to the ground!" then I'd have been covered by Georgia law, but only if the officer said "yes, help me" or some similar language.

    Now, if I fear an officer's life is in danger, I can assist and do so under Georgia's use of deadly force law, no request for assistance or such needed. Not even a warning to drop the gun or similar.
     
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