Police Officer Must Have Probable Cause to Handcuff Man Reported to Be Suicidal; Ruling Not Disturbed

Fisher v. Harden, 398 F.3d 837 (6th Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 126 S. Ct. 828 (2005)

When a dispatcher relays to a police officer a call for assistance, the information provided may include a "mental health code" designed to alert the responding officer that mental illness may play a role in the encounter.  In a case from Ohio, two sheriff's deputies were told incorrectly that a man had his feet tied to a set of railroad tracks and they were dispatched pursuant to a "Code 58," which indicates a possible suicide.  In actuality, a seventy-seven-year-old  retired farmer had gone out to shoot groundhogs in a rural farming area, an activity in which he routinely engaged to help protect his neighbor's crops. The man had taken with him a folding chair, his rifle, and a tripod to steady his rifle, and positioned himself upon an elevated railroad grade on a neighbor's property roughly 250 yards from a rural road.  A passerby had seen him and telephoned the Sheriff's Department. The responding deputies found the man seated in his folding chair.  From the road, they used the speaker system in their cruiser to instruct the man to come toward them.  The man stood up, gathered his belongings, and began walking along the railroad tracks towards the officers...

Found in DMHL Volume 25 Issue 2