Pro Bono Client in Victory Against Police Forcible Handcuffings

April 24, 2014

Cleary Gottlieb and the Office of the Appellate Defender won a victory from the Appellate Division, First Department, for a pro bono client charged with sale of a controlled substance whom the police forcibly handcuffed, despite the fact that he was not armed or dangerous and did not attempt to flee the scene. The trial court found that the police lacked probable cause to make an arrest but held that the use of handcuffs was nonetheless proper even absent probable cause, based on the police’s “reasonable suspicion” of the defendant. The First Department reversed, holding that the police may not handcuff individuals based on “reasonable suspicion” where they lack probable cause to make an arrest and where the individual is not armed or dangerous or attempting to flee, and that resistance to a police attempt at handcuffing cannot be used to justify that handcuffing. The First Department further held that evidence that results from improper handcuffing must be suppressed.