Hot Pursuit and Tunnel Vision

I have been teaching pursuit policy training and this case automatically got my attention. One thing we speak on is tunnel vision.

Simpson and Watkins contended that their concern was for the Mascorro's and the contamination of the pepper spray. Additionally Simpson and Watkins claimed that they relied on the “fellow officer rule” (Karr v. Smith 774 F.2d.1029) when Billings told them of the encounter. This was dismissed by the court in that their entry was based on Billings’ statements.   However, evidence proved that Simpson and Watkins were in the home at the time of the use of force.

The officers claimed they were within the law by Joshua fleeing into the home therefore, exigent circumstances existed. The Marcorrow's contended that in this situation the exigent circumstances did not exist for a warrantless entry. The court examined United States v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38. The officers were able to articulate that there had been a controlled drug buy, Santana still had drugs on here and the officers had identified themselves, and the officers believed that evidence would be destroyed. Additionally in Welch v. Wisconsin Welch was arrested in his home after being involved in an accident where he was believed to be intoxicated. Although pursuit was not an issue however, his intoxication was evidence of which would be lost with any delay (Welch v. Wisconsin 466 U.S. 742).

The cases cited were felony offences not a misdemeanor traffic charge. The offender was a minor who the officers knew well and where he could be located. There was only one entry way into the home. There was no evidence that could be destroyed. The offender posed no risk to the public.   Hot pursuit was not justified in this case. the court was rather blunt in its closing “No reasonable officer would have thought pursuit of a minor for a mere misdemeanor traffic offense constituted the sort of exigency permitting entry into a home without a warrant.” (Christina Mascorro & Jose Mascorro v. Steve Watkins, Tony Simpson, and Craig Billings, U.S. Court of Appeals 10th circuit #10-7005)

I have been teaching pursuit policy training and this case automatically got my attention. One thing we speak on is tunnel vision. Taking all into consideration of the complaint this is a perfect example of tunnel vision. Officer Billings was intent on capturing the offender. That is all he wanted. We cannot police this way. We have to be flexible to survive in the line of duty.


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About The Author:

Randy Rider began his career with the Douglas County Sheriff office, Georgia in 1974. He received several promotions eventually to investigations. His areas of expertise are extensive having worked crimes from petty theft to murder. In 1983 he became employed with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice as an investigator, promoted to Principal Investigator. He eventually moved into the Internal Affairs Unit as an investigator and as a supervisor.

Rider was elected President of the National Internal Affairs Investigators Association in 2005 and stepped down in 2010 having served five years. He is currently the Chaplain of the organization.

He is employed with the Public Agency Training Council one of the largest police training organizations in the country. Rider travels the country teaching officers on internal investigations of corrections facilities and first line supervisors on investigations of citizen’s complaints. He has experience is police audits.

Over the course of his career he has conducted hundreds of investigations concerning abuse, neglect, and use of force by law enforcement officers. Additionally, he has years of experience in custodial investigations, including numerous investigations involving the highly prevalent but seldom reported cases of inmate on inmate abuse. He has conducted investigations of police personnel for acts of misconduct.

A member of the IACP he worked with the organization on the document “Building Trust between the Police and the Citizens They Serve.” Currently he is an advisor on the Leading by Legacy program. He is an advisor to the International Chiefs of Police and the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services.

Randy is a columnist for as the internal affairs author. He published the weekly NIAIA newsletter for five years. He currently publishes the riderreport a police newsletter.

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