Bennett v. Pascone
Police can possess probable cause to charge an individual with burglary, after a break in is reported at a construction site, the individual flees from police and construction equipment is discovered in the individual's van. In December 2006, police dispatch reported that a dark colored van allegedly was traveling south on Wordin Avenue, after occupants had broken into a construction site and stolen construction equipment. The defendant police officers, who were located on Railroad Avenue, headed toward Wordin Avenue and allegedly observed a dark colored van that met the emergency dispatcher's description. Police pulled over the van. Allegedly, the plaintiff driver started to stop and then accelerated and sped away onto Interstate 95. Police apprehended the driver and his passenger. Police discovered an air compressor, laser transit, nail gun, chain saw and electric jack hammer in the dark-colored van. At the construction site, a police officer reported that a door had been opened forcibly. Two days after, the owner of the construction site confirmed that one of his buildings had been broken into. Police charged the plaintiff driver and his passenger with burglary, larceny, criminal mischief, interfering with police, reckless operation of a vehicle and engaging the police in pursuit. The plaintiff's passenger pled guilty to burglary. The plaintiff driver pled guilty to interfering with police and engaging the police in pursuit. Other charges were nolled. The plaintiff driver sued the police officers, alleging that the defendants lacked probable cause to charge the plaintiff with burglary, larceny and criminal mischief. The defendant police officers moved for summary judgment and argued that they possessed probable cause. As a result of the plaintiff driver's flight, a police officer's confirmation that a door had been opened forcibly at the construction site after a report about a break in, and officers' discovery of equipment in the van, the police had probable cause to charge the plaintiff driver with burglary, larceny and criminal mischief. The court granted the defendant police officers' motion for summary judgment.