The Todd Road Incident

During the ensuing melee a police officer was shot and numerous persons were arrested. There were allegations of assault and torture. It became known as the Todd Road incident.

In this case the court made a strong statement that if officers in this case were to testify "it would allow criminal defendants to provide police officers with immunity whenever they called the officers as witnesses, thus transferring control of Garrity-type use immunity from police officials to counsel for criminal defendants." "...moreover, Appellees position would allow criminal defendants to wield the tool of use immunity, normally denied to defendants." United States v. Thevis, 665 F.2d 616, 638-41 (5th Cir. Unit B), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 825, 103 S. Ct. 57, 74 L. Ed. 2d 61 (1982).

When the officers were brought to the stand they were not in a disciplinary action; they had not been ordered to answer questions under fear of dismissal. If they had testified, their testimony would not be considered as coerced and statements may have been used against them in criminal proceedings.

The City of Montgomery contended that there were two provisions within police department regulations. One was that officers would not be involved in an act that could be construed to be obstruction of justice. The second was that officers could not interfere with the criminal justice system. The court viewed both as not applicable to the Garrity decision.

The decision was clear from the 11th circuit. When the officers were ordered to testify in the criminal trial they were coerced to testify. Although they told the court they were willing to testify they were still being ordered to do so.

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