Jarvela v. Washtenaw County, et al., 40 F.4th 761 (6th Circuit; July 22, 2022)

The U.S. Constitution does not require law enforcement officers to give a verbal warning to fleeing suspect before using a police dog under 42 USC section 1983.

While tracking a fleeing suspect with a leashed police dog, the officer chose not to shout a verbal canine warning to the suspect. The police dog bit the suspect and continued on-bite while the suspect resisted arrest. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said, “If [the suspect] had wanted to surrender, he should not have fled on foot.” The Sixth Circuit stated that the officer did not utilize excessive force against the suspect under 42 USC Section 1983 by not giving a verbal warning about the police dog while the officer was tracking the fleeing suspect as a matter of law. Also, the officer was entitled to qualified immunity as to the continued force utilized by the dog after the suspect had been put on-bite because the suspect failed to comply with commands and continued to resist arrest even after the dog went on-bite. In short, the Sixth Circuit held that the use of the police dog without a verbal warning to the fleeing suspect did not constitute a constitutional violation. Also, the use of continued force by the police dog after the initial bite was protected by qualified immunity as the suspect continued to resist arrest after the dog went on-bite, and the use of force did cease once the suspect stopped resisting arrest and complied with the officer’s commands.


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