Anaheim Police have enough on their hands when it comes to the questionable way they protect human citizens but now the department is coming under fire for the way it protects possums.
A federal appeals court ruled Lorenzo Oliver can sue Anaheim Police for false arrest because cops detained him and his son for killing an opossum with a shovel when no such law against varmint killing exists.
The 12-year-old boy was accused by neighbors of repeatedly bashing the head of the opossum with a shovel in 2008, and the animal was eventually euthanized. Anaheim Police Officers Ryan Tisdale and James Brown arrived in time to witness the spectacle, leading to then 54-year-old Oliver's arrest and his son being detained.
The case led to a public backlash against the Olivers that included death threats, but prosecutors ultimately concluded there was not enough evidence to support criminal charges.
However, Oliver sued in federal court, claiming he and his son were wrongfully arrested and he and his family suffered emotional duress at the hands of police and the media. Judge Cormac Carney at the federal courthouse in Santa Ana ruled against Oliver, so he appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
A three-judge panel recently concluded it is not illegal to kill an opossum and that “a reasonable officer” should have known the arrests were unlawful. Oliver was allowed to sue each cop individually.
The Anaheim City Attorney's office obviously disagrees with the ruling and is reportedly weighing its options.