In an attempt to apprehend a man who robbed a Wells Fargo bank in Aurora, Colo., every adult at an intersection was detained. Some people were held for more than two hours. The cops had a “virtual certainty” the culprit was at the intersection.
When asked to describe a “virtual certainty,” Police Chief Daniel Oates explained that a virtual certainty is “a virtual certainty. That’s the language I’m using.”
The suspect was eventually apprehended, but the strategy of the police department raises questions about personal liberties.
Legal expert Jim Miller weighed in: “The concern is that the officers involved couldn’t point to any of these people they stopped and say ‘here’s my articulable suspicion for believing you did something wrong.’ They could individually file their lawsuits for false arrests.”
Oates apologized to innocent bystanders, but was quick to note that the end justifies the means.
“The law is clear that investigative detentions are lawful for a reasonable period of time,” he said. “Reasonableness is determined by the facts and circumstances at issue, and the facts and circumstances were the suspect was in one of 19 cars.”