Maresca v Bernalillo County

Maresca sued County and sheriff deputies under 42 USC 1983 alleging unlawful arrest and excessive force. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The district court denied Maresca’s motion and granted County and the deputies’ motion. The panel affirmed in part, reversed in pat and reamed. It held that Maresca was arrested and not merely detained as the deputies aimed weapons at Maresca, order him to lift his shirt for a weapons check, forced him to lie on the highway, handcuffed him and locked him in a police car and did the same to his wife and three children. It held the deputy who initiated the stop and arrest made an unreasonable mistake in entering the wrong license plate number, failing to notice at least 7 major differences between Maresca’s truck and the vehicle reported stolen and failed to await confirmation form the dispatch office, failed to appreciate that a family of five on a highway in broad daylight is highly unlikely to be using a stolen car and failing to appreciate that Maresca and his family all complied with all instructions and thus Maresca was entitled to summary judgment given the requirement to have probable cause to arrest was clearly established at the time of the stop. The panel affirmed judgment for a deputy assisting in the arrest as he reasonably relied on the report of a stolen vehicle and did not have time to verify that information. The panel held that the excessive force claim presented a jury question because the parties dispute whether weapons were aimed at the Marescas both before and after they were on the highway, the two arresting deputies could be liable for failing to prevent weapons being pointed at the minor children and there is a dispute about whether the nine year old daughter of Maresca was forced to lie on the highway. The panel also held that Maresca alleged sufficient emotional and psychological injuries to demonstrate more than de minimus harm.