Judgment entered against City of Westville, Okla., two police officers

On December 28, 2017, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma entered judgment against the City of Westville and two police officers in a case involving a failure to train and unlawful warrantless residential entry in violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of Mr. Brent Walker.

The law firm of Bryan and Terrill represented Mr. Walker in this matter.

On January 10, 2016, two Westville police officers went to Mr. Walker’s apartment in response to a noise complaint but refused to leave after Walker turned the music down.

The officers continued to demand entry, but Walker refused.

Undeterred, the officers located a maintenance man to open the apartment door, and then used the employee’s authority to gain entry to Mr. Walker’s apartment.

The officers’ entry violated the Fourth Amendment because they lacked a warrant, consent, or some exigent circumstance that would dispense with the warrant requirement.

The officers attempted to argue they had third-party consent based on the actual or apparent authority of the maintenance man, but the United States Supreme rejected this argument in 1961, holding that absent concurrent dominion or control over the specific premises at issue, a landlord has no authority to grant third-party consent to search a tenant’s residence. See Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610 (1961).

If you have questions about the warrant requirement, or the lawfulness of residential entries by law enforcement, contact the Tulsa personal injury attorneys at Bryan & Terrill, 918-935-2777.