California Court Says Avoiding Police Doesn’t Mean You Can Be Detained

California Court Says Avoiding Police Doesn't Mean You Can Be Detained

On Thursday, the California Supreme Court ruled that police officers cannot stop someone on the street just because that person tries to avoid talking to them.

This decision affects police officers all over the state, limiting when they can stop and question people.

It’s especially important in cases where arrests are being challenged, particularly when people of color say they were stopped just for trying to avoid the police.

If someone seems nervous or tries to hide, police can still take note of that, but it’s not enough on its own for the police to suspect criminal activity.

The court said officers can still approach people and talk to them casually in public, but unless they have a good reason to suspect a crime, the person has the right to walk away.

This decision came into existence when a case was brought by a Los Angeles man, who was arrested on suspicion of having dr**s and a g*n after police said he tried to hide from them.

The union representing LAPD officers immediately criticized the instance. They called the high court “out-of-touch,” but the LAPD did not respond to requests for comment.

Richard Fitzer, the lawyer representing Marlon Flores, who brought the case to court, praised the decision and gave credit to public defenders.

He called the ruling a win for the rights of minorities. Fitzer said the decision was made possible because of the Racial Justice Act, a law passed in California in 2020.

This law aims to end discrimination in the state’s criminal justice system based on a person’s race, ethnicity, or location.

California Court Say Avoiding Police Doesn't Mean You Can Be Detained
California Court Says Avoiding Police Doesn’t Mean You Can Be Detained

Justice Kelli Evans, a new member of the high court, expressed her views, “many individuals — including, particularly, people of color — commonly hold a perception that engaging in any manner with police, including in seemingly casual or innocuous ways, entails a degree of risk to one’s safety.”

Evan highlighted the heightened fears and risks faced by minority communities and listed the names of several individuals who had been killed in encounters with the police in recent years such as Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Stephon Clark, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.

She further wrote, “Due to this searing history and the present-day experiences of far too many people in the United States, for generations, legions of parents in minority communities have given their children ‘the talk’ — detailing survival techniques for how to navigate interactions with police ‘all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them.’

She added, “Given this context, it is apparent why attempting to avoid police officers reflects, for many people, simply a desire to avoid risking injury or death.”

This case began when Marlon Flores was arrested by LAPD officers in 2019 for allegedly hiding behind a car in an area known for dr**s and ga**s.

The officers claimed Flores’ behavior was suspicious, but the state Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that his actions didn’t justify his detention.

They ordered the case back to the trial court so Flores could withdraw his plea and the evidence against him could be suppressed.

The outcome of his case remains uncertain. The Los Angeles Police Protective League defended the officers’ actions, stating they removed a gu*n from the streets by arresting Flores.

About the author

Nancy Beverly

Nancy Beverly is a prominent political journalist and editor at World-Wire, known for her sharp analysis and deep understanding of global politics. With a Master's degree in Political Science, she excels in breaking down complex political issues, making them relatable to the public. At World-Wire, Nancy crafts compelling political narratives covering everything from local governance to international relations. Recognized for her expertise, she received the 'Excellence in Political Journalism' award in 2021. Nancy's work not only informs but also enriches her readers' understanding of political dynamics.

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