ERIN LINCOLN, Individually and as Representative of the Estate of John Lincoln; KATHLEEN LINCOLN, Individually and as Representative of the Estate of John Lincoln, Plaintiffs - Appellees
C. BARNES, Defendant-Appellant
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Texas
JOLLY, HIGGINBOTHAM, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.
E. GRAVES, JR., CIRCUIT JUDGE:
Clair Barnes appeals the denial of his motion to dismiss
based on qualified immunity. Because it was clearly
established that Barnes's conduct constituted an illegal
seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment, we affirm.
case arises out of the unfortunate police shooting of John
Lincoln during a SWAT team operation at his mother's
residence. The following facts are taken from Plaintiffs'
Amended Complaint, which at this stage we presume to be true.
John Lincoln was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was
taking medication to manage it. In December 2013, John ran
out of his medication and for reasons unknown was unable to
refill his prescription. On December 26, 2013, John had been
dining with his father when he took one of his father's
guns and left the house. John's father believed that he
was headed to the home of his mother, Kathleen Lincoln, and
that he was a threat to her life.
John arrived at his mother's house, she was not there,
but John's eighteen-year-old daughter, Erin Lincoln, who
lived with her grandmother, was at home and let him into the
house. After John left for Kathleen's house, John's
father called John's sisters and one of them, Kelly
Lincoln, called the Colleyville police. A large SWAT team,
including officers from both the Colleyville and North
Richland Hills police departments arrived and surrounded
police dispatcher contacted Erin inside the house and asked
if she was in harm's way. Erin replied that she was not
and that her father would not harm her. She also told the
dispatcher that she was talking to her father to try to calm
him down and that the police's presence was upsetting
him. When the phone rang again, Erin told her father not to
pick it up because it would just upset him. Despite her
advice, John picked up the phone and spoke with the police.
The call upset him greatly.
then began to open the front door to the house and to shout
at the police, while holding his father's gun. Every time
he opened the door, Erin was standing immediately next to
him. The last time John opened the door, three officers
opened fire, killing him and narrowly missing Erin, who was
standing by his side.
fell to the ground next to her father's body. She was
then forcibly removed, placed in handcuffs, and put in the
backseat of a police vehicle. Although she did not fight,
struggle, or resist, she did ask the officer why she was
being taken into custody and made it known that she wanted to
remain with her father.
Erin was being held in the patrol car, her aunt Kelly, an
Arlington Police Department officer, who was on the scene in
uniform, informed one of the Colleyville officers that her
niece had severe social anxiety disorder and was emotionally
distraught and she requested that Erin be released into her
care. The Colleyville officer told Kelly that they would not
release Erin because they needed to get a statement. Kelly
demanded to speak with a supervisor. After about thirty
minutes, a Colleyville Sergeant came over and reiterated that
they were holding Erin to get a statement. Kelly responded
that they were outside their authority by holding Erin as a
witness against her will. The Sergeant refused to release
being held in the back of the patrol car for about two hours,
Erin was transported to the police station. Kelly went to the
station to get Erin, but she was not allowed to see her. At
the station, Erin was interrogated for five hours by Ranger
Barnes and Officer Kyle Meeks and she was forced to write out
a statement. After the officers obtained her statement, Erin
was permitted to leave with Kelly. Erin was never charged
with any crime.
and Kathleen, individually and as representatives of the
estate of John Lincoln, sued the Cities of Colleyville and
North Richland Hills, Texas, and several officers involved in
the incident, including Barnes. They asserted a variety of
constitutional claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 stemming
from the shooting and Erin's subsequent detention. In
pertinent part, Erin asserted that Barnes and Meeks violated
her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable
seizure when they took her into custody without a warrant,
probable cause, or justifiable reason and interrogated her
against her will for many hours, refusing her access to her
family, including Kelly Lincoln.
defendants, including Barnes, filed motions to dismiss.
Barnes moved to dismiss on the basis of qualified immunity.
In a series of orders, the district court dismissed all of
the claims except the unreasonable seizure claims against
Barnes, Meeks, and Officer Sandra Scott, who had transported
Erin to the police station. As for Barnes, the court held
that the allegations concerning Erin's five-hour
interrogation at the station, during which she was forced to
write out a statement, stated a claim for violation of the
Fourth Amendment. The court cited Dunaway v. New
York, 442 U.S. 200 (1979), a 1979 Supreme Court decision
which held that the involuntary detention and interrogation
of an individual without probable cause on the grounds that
he possessed information about an unsolved crime constituted
an unreasonable seizure. Id. at 207. The district
court further determined that Barnes should have been on
notice that his conduct was illegal based on a Tenth Circuit