Monday, June 26, 2006

Anderson v. Warner (9th Cir. - June 26, 2006)

We've come a long way since Rodney King, haven't we?

Charles Warner is with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department (and is the jail commander). Warner is slowly driving his vintage pickup truck to the Redwood Valley Parade when the guy behind him, Thomas Anderson, is momentarily distracted and rear ends Warner's truck. At which point, allegedly, our esteemed law enforcement officer, Warner, promptly gets out of his truck, walks back to Anderson's car, opens the car door, and starts punching Anderson in the face. And to keep bystanders from interfering, Warner and his wife (again, allegedly) essentially tell the crowd: "Don't worry. He's a cop. He's punching this guy for good reason. Disperse and go your merry way." Which they pretty much do.

Anyway, after Warner's done beating the crap out of Anderson, and once the fire department starts to come, Warner allegedly tells Anderson: "I'm a police officer. Don't say anything. I'll fix it. I'll work it out."

Well, Anderson eventually sues Warner for violating his civil rights, and Judge Willie Fletcher (correctly) holds here that summary judgment was improperly entered in favor of Warner, who may well have acted under color of law by using his official position to ensure that the crowd didn't interfere with his assault. Judge Fletcher simultaneously (and also correctly) affirms the grant of summary judgment in favor of Mendacino County and the Sheriff's Office, who aren't properly held responsible for Warner's assault.

I really, really hope that Warner got busted for this. It sounds to me -- from what pretty much every one of the witnesses testified -- that Warner was completely out of control, and utterly at fault. He should have been criminally charged with assault and battery. And certainly fired from his job. I don't want a guy running my prison who starts hitting people in the face simply because they were momentarily distracted and hit a car. I want a guy who's much, much more calm than this. And, P.S., who doesn't -- pretty much ever -- hit innocent people in the face.