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Name: Fisher v. City of San Jose
Case #: 04-16095
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/11/2009

During a police standoff, once exigent circumstances justify the seizure of the suspect in his home, as long as the police are actively engaged in completing the arrest, they need not obtain a warrant before taking the suspect into custody, regardless whether the exigency has dissipated before the actual physical arrest occurs. In 1999, Fisher started the evening in his apartment, watching the World Series on television, cleaning his collection of rifles, drinking beer, and reading a book entitled The Second Amendment Primer. Over the next several hours, his evening deteriorated after he became involved with a security guard investigating loud music who eventually summoned police from the San Jose Police Department. Appellant declined to respond to requests to exit his apartment, emergency police teams were called, and a stand-off over several hours resulted. Eventually, after the police used bullhorns, shut off the power to the apartment, drove an armored vehicle with a siren activated in front of the apartment patio, detonated a flashbang device, and shot tear gas into the apartment, Fisher agreed to come out, at which time he was shot with a nonlethal bullet and he surrendered. After a jury deadlocked on felony charges, Fisher ultimately pled no contest to misdemeanor brandishing in the presence of a security guard. In this action, following a civil jury verdict for the police, the district court granted Fisher’s motion for judgment as a matter of law and ordered the city to pay Fisher $1 and training for the police officers. Fisher argued that the exigency justifying his arrest had dissipated prior to his arrest and, therefore, the arrest without a warrant resulted in a Fourth Amendment violation. The Ninth Circuit reversed, ruling that the armed standoff was a single, continuous Fourth Amendment occurrence and once exigent circumstances and probable cause justified Fisher’s seizure, the police were not required to obtain an arrest warrant despite not taking Fisher into full physical custody until hours later.