This week's entry is Irvin v. Richardson, involving a so-called "Terry stop" in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Police were called to the scene by a woman who reported three Black men having an argument, one of whom displayed a weapon. Two of the men (including the alleged gun owner) were described further, the third was not. Officers show up and see two Black men who match the description of ... neither of two described gentlemen. So naturally, they draw their guns, force the men to the ground, handcuff them, and pat them for weapons as both men protest their innocence. No weapons are found, and eventually, the original caller comes by and says "no, these aren't the guys I was talking about". Oopsy-daisy.
The men sue and say "there was no reasonable suspicion to stop us -- we didn't look like the descriptions the officers had, and in particular not like the man who supposedly displayed a firearm." Eighth Circuit (in a 2-1 decision, with Judge Kelly writing her usual exasperated dissent) replies "but there was a third, undescribed individual who was allegedly involved in the argument, and since the police didn't know what he looked like, that means there's 'reasonable suspicion' that any Black man in the vicinity could be that guy. Qualified immunity."
Every day I'm proud anew to be a clerkship alum of this august circuit.