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Civil Rights – False Arrest – Probable Cause – Child Abuse – Acquittal 

Although plaintiff was eventually acquitted on charges that he had abused eight-week-old E.W., his only complaints about statements in the affidavit supporting the warrant for his arrest are directed at statements that his “admissions are consistent with the injuries reported by the examining medical personnel” and that, when he threw the baby, E.W.’s mother “heard audible cracking.” Even disregarding these statements, the affidavit’s description of the baby’s extensive injuries and of plaintiff’s admissions to his abuse of the child were sufficient to provide probable cause for the issuance of the warrant for plaintiff’s arrest. 

We affirm summary judgment for the defendant-law enforcement officers. 

E.W.’s injuries included a laceration to her lip, bruises on her head and back, 16 broken ribs, a broken clavicle, fractures – in different stages of healing – to both legs, a shattered pelvis and a brain bleed. 

In his interview with police, plaintiff admitted that he dropped the baby twice, threw her onto a couch, “squeezed” her to get her to stop crying, hit her head on a doorknob, and sat on her leg. He explained that he had been feeling “short tempered” and had not meant to hurt the baby. 

Absent the statements plaintiff complains about, the affidavits set forth that the officers knew that (1) E.W. had suffered physical abuse, (2) plaintiff had been with her before she was admitted to the hospital, and (3) plaintiff had confessed to committing several acts of physical abuse on E.W. Both plaintiff and Ashley Stanley, the baby’s mother, had informed officers that the baby screamed when plaintiff came near her, and plaintiff never implicated Stanley in the abuse but instead claimed that she was a good mother. Under the totality of these circumstances, which were set forth in the affidavits supporting the arrest warrants, we hold that the officers had information amounting to much more than a “bare suspicion” that plaintiff had committed a crime and, thus, had probable cause to arrest him. 


Wolfe v. City of North Charleston (Lawyers Weekly No. 003-029-22, 9 pp.) (Per Curiam) No. 21-7335. Appealed from USDC at Charleston, S.C. (Richard Mark Gergel, J.) Jason Scott Luck for appellant; Robin Jackson for appellees. 4th Cir. Unpub. 

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