Laguna Beach Police Get Excessive Force Immunity For Hurting Elderly Lady, Judge Says

lagunabeachpolice.jpg
Cops are allowed to act maliciously? Really?
Acting on rumors in June 2011, a Laguna Beach Police Department SWAT team investigating a minor stink bomb attack in their city conducted a full-force raid on a Rowland Heights residence in Los Angeles County.

When Marilyn Injeyan--a 5-foot-3 and 125 pound, 71-year-old retired school teacher without a criminal record--opened her front door, officers donning ballistic vests and pointing flashlights and assault weapons stormed inside.

Sgt. Robert Rahaeuser, then a 60-year-old department veteran of more than three decades, ordered a stunned Injeyan to stand back and she immediately complied.

But the heavily-armed Rahaeuser, who'd later claim he considered the unarmed, elderly woman a real threat to his safety, grabbed the lady's arms, forced them behind her back and twisted them up while handcuffing her.

The sudden, unexpected force caused Injeyan to wet her pants and left her suffering large, torn rotator cuff injuries in both shoulders that required multiple, costly surgeries as well as extensive rehabilitation.

In May 2012, she filed an excessive force lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court.

To city and police officials in Laguna Beach, the SWAT raid on Injeyan was a "valid" tactic "in connection with the investigation of a domestic terrorism incident for which her son was a person of interest."

(According to court records, the son was never charged.)

The police use of "reasonable force" during the execution of the search warrant is supported by California law, the defendants asserted in responding court filings.

Police and city officials also argued that cops should enjoy immunity protections for their conduct because they have to make "split-second judgments" in potentially dangerous situations--like, they asserted, their contact Injeyan.

"[Rahaeuser] was unsure of what awaited him inside the plaintiff's home, including who was present, or whether any of the occupants would be armed," wrote Philip D. Kohn, a lawyer representing the City of Laguna Beach.

Indeed, Kohn believes it is "irrelevant" whether Injeyan "posed some sort of threat" or not because cops conducing search warrants in present-day America don't have to justify their decisions to use force.

Nevertheless, according to Kohn, Rahaeuser's physical contact with the woman was "reasonable" and police acted professionally and compassionately throughout the incident.

This week, U.S. District Court Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell claimed she studied the case "in a light most favorable" to Injeyan but decided to grant pre-trial summary judgment for the police.

"The Court finds that [Laguna Beach police] enjoy immunity from the excessive force claims," opined O'Connell, who also declared that cops have a "cloak of immunity" even when acting "maliciously and without probable cause."

O'Connell then made sure Injeyan won't ever try to hold the police accountable again.

She ordered the woman to pay the defense legal bills or justify why she can't.

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Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.


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16 comments
littlefrenchkey
littlefrenchkey

It is Laguna Beach Police together with the help of City attorney, Phil Kohn arguing "reasonable" and "cloak of immunity" and "irrelevant" even when "acting maliciously and without probable cause",...This is the devil's arm and devil's mouth at work and shame on the City Manager and the Council to let it get to the Judge, the devil itself to speak. You can accept this kind of behavior and judicial circus and outcome in a developing country, but in Laguna Beach, California, USA it's a shame to call this just and civilized action. I Believe generally US and it's multiple cities have lost their moral compass and heading down to the devil's nest. What is just has no place in our courtrooms, it is what disfranchises the individuals and adds to the power of the government and it's various employees that is the driving force at this time in USA. I feel very sorry for the poor lady, may her experience be one to shed light on us finding a new moral compass in the darkness created by the shadow of big brother and his devil accomplices.

hiwrecker
hiwrecker

That'll teach people to fugue with the police!

Ernie_Menard
Ernie_Menard

One day both this cop, Robert Rahaeuser, and the judge, Beverly Reid O'Connell, will depart this mortal realm [hopefully in agony]  and their names can be added to the list of graves that must be urinated upon.

kswayne36
kswayne36

I feel bad for the lady, that was hurt. There was no reason, for that. However, the cop was concerned about his safety. But, his reaction was wrong. She should be able to get something from the LBPD.  

Try being a cop for a day, your opinion may change about how you look at a police man. I have a friend, who is a Florida,  sheriff he shot and killed a person. Hearing the story from his side really changed my views on cops. Being hated because you wear a uniform, and being portrayed as bad because of a few bad cops in the world. Think, before you are critical of anyone. Get in their shoes. 

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

If Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell really stated or implied that Orange County cops have a "cloak of immunity" even when "acting maliciously or without probable cause" then she is one of the judges in this county that is "unwittingly" or "wittingly" enabling the mafia trash behavior of these police officers.

As for these city / police lawyers - lost souls not worth a response.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

"evertheless, according to Kohn, Rahaeuser's physical contact with the woman was "reasonable" and police acted professionally and compassionately throughout the incident"

When you atack someone in full battle gear with weapons drawn that's professional compassion to these thugs? Exsqueeze me?

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

Yet get this, they get excessive force immunity when I got arrested for elder abuse FALSELY and given anger management classes when the old man that I was with as his caretaker lied to the paramedics and told them that I had punched him in the face (which was a lie), the police said thay had a witness that I never saw but I found out that the witness spoke clipped english meaning that the witness was a mexican and was not on the scene and could not have known what was going on, the old man has Alzheimers/Dementia disease with Lewey bodies and was unable to recognize his surroundings or events and he was delirious at the time that they took him out of the ambulance at the hospital, the court made me pay for thier mistake. "The police report and the DA's Complaint had all sorts of holes in it." - A Public Defender assigned to the case. ne of the cops on the scene even told me that he saw the Dementia bracelet on the victims wrist and they still arrested me when nothing came from me because the cops were on the scene after the fact. The old man collapsed on his own due to blood platelets loss and I got punished for his behaviors that were out of my control.

ocjusticewarrior
ocjusticewarrior

THIS IS A "MAJOR" PROBLEM WITH ALL COPS!!  THEY "ENJOY" THEIR IMMUNITY, SO THEY DO WHATEVER THEY PLEASE!  THEY FELT THREATENED BY A 71-YEAR-OLD WOMAN!?!?  REALLY!?!  WE MUST CHANGE THE POLICE OFFICER BILL OF RIGHTS (POBR)!!

dreambones
dreambones

Why didn't this officer (definitely not a gentleman!) not have her come outside and remain with another officer while Laguna PD served the warrant? She would have been detained and the PD could have gone on its merry way to serve their warrant. Surely there were better alternatives? Did the son ever get charged with "domestic terrorism"? If this judge faces election and I can vote, I will support one of her opponents! Would love to see how tall and how heavy the officer is...

Nabil Nathie
Nabil Nathie

The largest gang in America strikes again

dale_c
dale_c

Holy shit this sounds like an article on The Onion. How can this happen?

lindatoo2010
lindatoo2010

This decision should be criminal. I'd say it's time to reconsider what judges are voted in, and get rid of the ones who make ignorant decisions like this one. May all of you get torn rotator cuff injuries in both shoulders.

fullermalarkey
fullermalarkey

@ocjusticewarrior 

That "Officer Bill of Rights is not found in any constitution I'm familiar with......Isn't it something the police dreamt up?Yes,I believe it is...

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@dreambones Federal judges are appointed by presidents for life. The cops did not charge the son in the case, despite the controversial search. The officer involved is larger than the elderly woman, but--as cops go--not a huge guy. He stands about five or six inches taller.

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