NIEVES v. BARTLETT | The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

Case Overview

Action

"Because there was probable cause to arrest Bartlett, his retaliatory arrest claim fails as a matter of law."

Facts/Syllabus

"Respondent Russell Bartlett was arrested by police officers Luis Nieves and Bryce Weight for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest during 'Arctic Man,' a raucous winter sports festival held in a remote part of Alaska. According to Sergeant Nieves, he was speaking with a group of attendees when a seemingly intoxicated Bartlett started shouting at them not to talk to the police. When Nieves approached him, Bartlett began yelling at the officer to leave. Rather than escalate the situation, Nieves left. Bartlett disputes that account, claiming that he was not drunk at that time and did not yell at Nieves. Minutes later, Trooper Weight says, Bartlett approached him in an aggressive manner while he was questioning a minor, stood between Weight and the teenager, and yelled with slurred speech that Weight should not speak with the minor. When Bartlett stepped toward Weight, the officer pushed him back. Nieves saw the confrontation and initiated an arrest. When Bartlett was slow to comply, the officers forced him to the ground. Bartlett denies being aggressive and claims that he was slow to comply because of a back injury. After he was handcuffed, Bartlett claims that Nieves said 'bet you wish you would have talked to me now.'"

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