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Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rules in civil rights case that officer’s “arguable probable cause” to believe that he could conduct a warrantless search of the plaintiff’s home under exigent circumstances exception to warrant requirement precluded summary judgment for plaintiff

On April 6, 2021, in Hardigree v. Lofton et al., No. 190-13352, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an unlawful entry summary judgment for the plaintiff in a civil rights case involving an allegedly unconstitutional warrantless search of the plaintiff’s home by a police officer. The Eleventh Circuit ruled that there was enough evidence of illegal narcotic activity to support the conclusion that the officer had “arguable probable cause” to believe that the “exigent circumstances” exception to the warrant requirement applied. The Court noted that in cases involving warrantless searches or seizures, law enforcement officers will be entitled to qualified immunity if they had even arguable probable cause, citing Feliciano v. City of Miami Beach, 707 F.3d 1244, 1251 (11th Cir. 2013), which exists if “reasonable officers in the same circumstances and possessing the same knowledge as the [defendant officer] could have believed that probable cause existed,” quoting from Swint v. City of Wadley, 51 F.3d 988, 996 (11th Cir. 1995).

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