Court rules on summary disposition for officers accused of excessive force during arrest
Anthony Lemon sped away after a traffic stop and was chased by police. Eventually he slid off the end of a dead-end road, struck a home and attempted to run on foot. He was tackled by pursuing officers and allegedly beaten about the face. He filed suit arguing that the force exerted by the officers was excessive and not reasonable under the circumstances. The Genessee County Circuit judge dismissed his claim. On appeal, the Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the claims relating to "tackling" Lemon, but ruled that a jury would have to decide whether the officers beat him about the face.
The Court noted that even if Lemon was correct that the officers didn't need to tackle him because he had become short of breath and stopped, tackling a fleeing suspect under these circumstances was reasonable and cloaked in governmental immunity. Striking a suspect about the face, however, which the officers denied, could not be justified as a legal, reasonable intentional act. If the evidence confirmed Lemon's claim that this occurred, the officers would not be immune from liability.