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Criminal Law/Investigative Detainment/Inquiry


Hi. I am referring to the Luis Rodriguez near the Moore theatre in Oklahoma City. Apparently, Luis' wife and daughter got into an altercation outside the theatre and police arrived. The police asked Luis for his ID. Luis refused to give it to them. He was accosted by several officers. He died of "cardiac arrhythmia due to physical restraint" according to the autopsy. All officers were cleared of any wrongdoing by DA Greg Mashburn who stated Mr Rodriguez was "detained during questioning".  

An expert stated that I was confusing  "No ID Requirement" of OK with "Investigative Detainment/Inquiry." As the police were dispatched to a location for a fight/altercation. Upon arrival, the police do have the right, under "Investigative Detainment/Inquiry.", to detain/question participants, obtain ID and "sort out" the incident to establish if any laws have been broken and/or restore "peace & quiet." If Luis Rodriguez failed to comply with police directives, refused to produce ID, and/or became disorderly during this initial questioning, the police can take him into custody for Disorderly Conduct or some other related state/local violation.

This "Investigative Detainment/Inquiry." seems to be a very grey area. According to the ACLU, you are either free to go or being detained (in which you may refuse to answer any questions). Furthermore, in many states, if you are not performing certain activities (such as driving a car), you are required to give a name only (not ID, assuming that you are carrying it).

My questions:
1) is "Investigative Detainment/Inquiry." legal? Under what circumstances and what rights do you have?
2) as you are not required to answer any police questions (without a lawyer present), what extent are you compelled to follow police directives? According to the ACLU, Police directives must be lawful and aimed at preventing some illegal imminent conduct. As Mr. Rogriguez was not involved in any illegal conduct in the altercation, what was the illegal imminent conduct? Why could he not legally walk away?


The answer to your first question is yes.  The differences between an Investigatory Detention and an Arrest are the degrees of intrusion involved and the different legal justifications for each. The standard for distinguishing between the two is not always clear because the distinction rests on a fact-specific inquiry rather than clearly delineated criteria.

An investigative detention occurs when an officer lacks probable cause to arrest but nonetheless possesses a reasonable suspicion: that is, the officer is able to point to specific, articulable facts that, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrants the detention. The articulable facts used by the officer must create some reasonable suspicion that some activity out of the ordinary is occurring, or has occurred, some suggestion to connect the detainee with the unusual activity, and some indication the unusual activity is related to criminal activity. During an investigative detention, an officer may employ the force necessary to effect the reasonable goals of the detention: investigation, maintenance of the status quo, and officer safety. An officer may conduct a limited pat-down search of the outer clothing for weapons during an investigative detention if the officer fears for his safety or that of others under what is called a "Terry Frisk."

An arrest, on the other hand, is a greater restraint upon a person's freedom to leave or move. If the degree of incapacitation appears more than necessary to simply safeguard the officers and assure the suspect's presence during a period of investigation, this suggests the detention is an arrest. Further, in the absence of a reasonable safety concern or need to maintain the status quo, an officer's use of force to secure a suspect is typically held to constitute an arrest.

If the police detain a subject for general inquiry without the indicia of reasonable suspicion he or she may, in most jurisdictions, refuse to answer and may continue on without further interference.  However, in a scenario where the police are called to quell disorder, sort facts, and restore peace persons involved must identify themselves when lawfully queried and do not enjoy the privilege of silence.  

I am not familiar with the incident that you are citing and trying to obtain a legal perspective upon.  It would seem from the limited facts you provided that Mr. Rodriguez was not compliant and resisted law enforcement at all levels. He could not walk away because he was involved at some level with the events that transpired into an altercation and would not give the police the requisite information to clear him from involvement.   


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Jeffrey Hauck


I would welcome the opportunity to answer questions relating to or related to the field of criminal law.


Criminologist. Professor of Criminal Justice. Licensed Private Detective with expansive clientele base encompassing hundreds of cases. Donates resources and time to the Children's Rescue Network in Orlando, FL.

Associate of Science; Bachelor of Arts; Master of Science, Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree.

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