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DECISIONS DECISIONS CIVIL RIGHTS a boston police sergeant present at the deadly beating of a fellow officer may not recover against the department and superior officers for their refusal to return him to his regular duties, the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held on May 27. Dwan v. City of Boston, No. 02-1493. After hearing a police radio broadcast that robbery suspects had shot a police officer, Sergeant Robert A. Dwan and his partner joined several other units in the chase. A plainclothes, African-American officer tried to follow the suspects over a fence, but unidentified officers mistook him for a suspect and severely beat him. No officer ever admitted to beating the officer or to seeing others do it. Dwan invoked the Fifth Amendment, refusing to testify about the incident before any grand jury. The department said it was this plea that prompted it to place him on paid administrative leave. Claiming that the department’s action violated his Fifth Amendment rights, Dwan filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. His superiors moved for summary judgment, claiming that they had qualified immunity from the suit. When a Massachusetts federal court denied that motion, the superiors appealed. Reversing, the 1st Circuit ruled that qualified immunity precludes Dwan’s claim. Administrative leave for one reasonably suspected of serious misconduct is a routine measure, the court said. Because other evidence contradicted the sergeant’s story, and because the department was laudably trying to break the “familiar wall of silence,” the 1st Circuit deemed the department’s actions appropriate.

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