Police officer sued for civil rights violation for arrest at farm

March 28, 2007 | Roger McEowen


The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, which includes the right to be free from arrest without probable cause. However, an arresting officer must also have proper jurisdiction to make an arrest. That was the issue in this case.  A 911 emergency call was place from a farm located on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border. The Benton County, Arkansas, sheriff’s department responded to the call and arrested a prowler in a closet in the garage. However, according to a Global Positioning System (GPS) map, the state line runs through the farm in such a way that the mailbox is in Arkansas and the garage is in Oklahoma. Because the prowler was in Oklahoma at the time of his arrest, the prowler claimed that his arrest was extra-jurisdictional and illegal under Arkansas law. The court agreed, noting inconsistent rulings by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on the issue. Engleman v. Ferguson, No. 05-5132 (W.D. Ark.Mar. 28, 2007).