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Eighth Circuit sides with Pierce County deputy in Hadar bar lawsuit

By Jerry Guenther/Norfolk Daily News

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Pierce County deputy's use of an "arm bar technique" in which a patron who was arrested outside of a bar claimed excessive use of force.

Kirk D. Vester of Norfolk was the patron who claimed excessive force by Pierce County deputy Daniel Hallock, who had arrested Vester on May 30, 2013, at the 101 Bar & Grill in Hadar, according to court documents.

The sheriff's office was called to the bar after Vester allegedly had threatened to stab several patrons with a knife, according to court documents.

The Eighth Circuit issued a ruling Tuesday in which it agreed that Hallock was within his rights when he arrived at the scene, found a man matching the description given — who was Vester — and ordered him to get out of his black 1997 Chevy Camaro five times before Vester did, according to court records.

Hallock, who was represented by the Norfolk law firm of Fitzgerald, Vetter, Temple & Bartell, also issued three separate commands for Vester to get on the ground or his knees. That came after Vester finally got out of the car, court records indicate.

Concerned that Vester might have a weapon, Hallock wanted to get him to the ground and disarm him in a "prone position," court documents said.

Hallock approached Vester from behind, grabbed his right arm and used an "arm bar technique" to take him to the ground, court records indicate.

Vester was unable to use his free arm to brace the fall and landed face first on the ground, sustaining cuts and bruises to his head and hand, court records indicate.

After securing Vester, Hallock noticed the injuries and immediately called for a rescue squad. Vester was taken to an emergency room for treatment, court records said.

Vester was represented by attorney Matt Munderloh of the Omaha and Oakland law firm of Johnson and Mock. Vester sought monetary damages for use of excessive force.

The Eighth Circuit covers all or parts of seven states, including all of Nebraska. Circuit Judge Raymond Gruender wrote a six-page opinion affirming US District Court Judge John Gerrard's decision to dismiss the case based on "qualified immunity."

That means a law enforcement officer may use some force to get a subject to cooperate as long as the officer's conduct does not violate "established statutory or constitutional rights."

Gruender wrote that based on the circumstances Hallock encountered upon arriving at the 101 Bar & Grill, the amount of force he used was "reasonable" under the circumstances.

Gruender noted in part, it was relevant that Vester refused to comply with repeated commands and there was the "very real possibility that (Vester) still had a concealed knife" and that Hallock was "making the arrest without any backup."

The whole incident was recorded on Hallock's videocamera, including the repeated commands that were not followed.

Attorney Mark Fitzgerald said Hallock was a single officer in a rural location, making the arrest without any help.

"If he gets it wrong, there are some serious consequences. I thought it was different than many other cases because in those cases, there are multiple officers involved," Fitzgerald said on Wednesday.


Guenther, J. (2017, July 27). Eight Circuit sides with Pierce County deputy in Hadar bar lawsuit. Retrieved from Norfolk Daily News:
http://norfolkdailynews.com/news/eighth-circuit-sides-with-pierce-county-deputy-in-hadar-bar/article_91520c80-72d4-11e7-ba72-9725e7468e8c.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

Posted on: Thursday, July 27, 2017
Last modified on: Monday, December 11, 2017

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