The South Dakota Supreme Court is allowing a lawsuit to go forward alleging Sioux Falls police officers used excessive force. Nichole Boggs sued in Second Circuit Court for injuries she suffered in 2016 when two police officers took her to the ground.
The Supreme Court has upheld the circuit court’s refusal to summarily dismiss the claim of excessive force. But the high court says the lower court should have found the warrantless search to be legal.
When Sioux Falls police were dispatched to a call for help at around 3 in the morning on Aug. 19, 2016, they found a barefoot man standing outside an apartment complex with a cut on his abdomen.
Officers determined that the situation started in the apartment of Nichole Boggs, the injured man’s mother. Boggs refused to allow the officers to enter, but eventually, another of her sons came out of the apartment, and officers saw that he had a fresh injury to his face.
At oral arguments before the Supreme Court in November 2020, the defendants’ lawyer Gary Timson explains why officers could legally enter the apartment without consent or a warrant.
“Family disturbance, two people sta… uh, bleeding, evidence of a fight and blood in the entryway of an apartment house, and they needed to go in, it’s only reasonable, to determine is there a weapon in there, is there a perpetrator in there, is there another victim in there?”
In its recently released opinion, Supreme Court justices agree that circumstances at the time created an exception to the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches.
But the Supreme Court does not agree that the police officers accused of excessive force are entitled to qualified immunity.
At November’s oral arguments, the attorney for Nichole Boggs is Jeffrey Beck. He says officers Andrew Pearson and Mark Toland injured Boggs and violated her rights by taking her down to the ground, even though she presented no danger.
“We’ve got a clearly established right, a nonviolent misdemeanant, not attempting to flee; she’s inside of her own house, standing in the entryway of her own house, holding a binder full of papers, when suddenly, without warning, officer grabs her.”
In its opinion, justices agree with the circuit court’s finding that given the circumstances, a jury might find that the officers used excessive force.
The Supreme Court has remanded the case to the Second Circuit, where the lawsuit will continue to settlement or trial.