from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 3:15-cv-00390-MCR-CJK
WILSON and NEWSOM, Circuit Judges, and PROCTOR, [*] District Judge.
NEWSOM, Circuit Judge.
began as a relatively low-key consensual encounter between
Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Deputy Shawn Swindell and
Kenneth Bailey escalated quickly into a forceful arrest.
Taking the facts in the light most favorable to Bailey, as we
must given the case's procedural posture, the short story
goes like this: Swindell showed up at Bailey's
parents' home requesting to speak with Bailey about an
earlier incident involving his estranged wife. When Bailey
came to the door, Swindell asked to talk to him alone, but
Bailey declined. After the two argued briefly, Bailey went
back inside the house. Then, presumably fed up with
Bailey's unwillingness to cooperate, Swindell pursued him
across the threshold and (as Bailey describes it)
"tackle[d] [him] . . . into the living room" and
sued, arguing that his arrest violated the Fourth Amendment.
The district court granted summary judgment in Swindell's
favor, and Bailey now appeals on two grounds. First, Bailey
disputes that Swindell had probable cause to arrest him in
the first place. Second, Bailey contends that in any
event-i.e., even assuming that probable cause
existed-Swindell unlawfully arrested him inside his
parents' home without a warrant. Unsurprisingly, Swindell
disagrees on both counts and, further, asserts that he is
entitled to qualified immunity.
deciding whether Bailey's arrest was supported by
probable cause-or, as it goes in the qualified-immunity
context, "arguable probable cause"-we reverse. Even
assuming that Swindell had probable cause, he crossed what
has been called a "firm" and "bright"
constitutional line, and thereby violated the Fourth
Amendment, when he stepped over the doorstep of Bailey's
parents' home to make a warrantless arrest.
seeds of the confrontation between Swindell and Bailey were
planted when Swindell responded to a request from police
dispatch to investigate an argument between Bailey and his
estranged wife, Sherri Rolinger. The argument had occurred
when Bailey stopped by the couple's marital home to
retrieve a package. Bailey no longer lived in the home with
Rolinger and their two-year-old son, as the couple was
embroiled in a contentious divorce. When Bailey rang the
doorbell-seemingly more than once-he woke the boy, who
started to cry. Rolinger came to the door but refused to open
it and told Bailey to leave. Bailey responded that he
wasn't leaving without his package, and Rolinger
eventually informed him that she had put it in the mailbox.
Bailey retrieved the package and departed.
went to her mother's house and called 911 to report the
incident to police. In response to the call, Deputy Andrew
Magdalany was dispatched to interview Rolinger, and Swindell
went to talk to Bailey. At some point before Swindell reached
Bailey, he called Magdalany and gathered additional details
about the encounter and the surrounding circumstances.
Magdalany told Swindell, for instance, that in the three
months since Bailey's separation from his wife, he had
visited the marital residence repeatedly, moved items around
in the house, and installed cameras without his wife's
knowledge. Magdalany also explained that Rolinger was
"fear[ful]" and believed that her husband had
"snapped." Even so, he told Swindell that he had
not determined that Bailey had committed any crime.
with this information, Swindell approached Bailey's
parents' home-where Bailey was living-knocked on the
door, and told Bailey's mother Evelyn that he wanted to
speak to Bailey. Bailey came to the door and stepped out
onto the porch, accompanied by his brother Jeremy. Bailey,
Evelyn, and Jeremy all remained on the porch during the
encounter, although only Bailey spoke with Swindell. Swindell
immediately advised Bailey that he was not under arrest.
Shortly thereafter, Swindell retreated off the porch to
establish what he described as a "reactionary gap"
between himself and Bailey-a distance that Jeremy estimated
could have been as far as 13 feet. Swindell asked Bailey to
speak with him privately by his patrol car, but Bailey
declined, saying that he wasn't comfortable doing so.
Swindell then told Evelyn and Jeremy to go back inside so
that he could talk to Bailey alone, but they, too, refused.
Bailey asked Swindell why he was there, but Swindell
initially didn't respond; he eventually said that he was
there to investigate, although he never clarified exactly
what he was investigating. Frustration growing, Swindell then
repeatedly demanded-at a yell-that Evelyn and Jeremy return
to the house and that Bailey talk to him by his patrol car,
but no one complied.
then announced that he was heading inside and turned back
into the house. Without first announcing an intention to
detain Bailey, Swindell charged after him and "tackle[d]
[him] . . . into the living room," simultaneously
declaring, "I am going to tase you." Importantly
for our purposes, by that time Bailey was- as he, Evelyn, and
Jeremy all testified-already completely inside the house.
Swindell then proceeded to arrest Bailey.
sued for false arrest under the Fourth Amendment, but the
district court rejected his claim. In particular, the court
reasoned that when Bailey retreated into his house, he at
least arguably obstructed Swindell in the lawful exercise of
his duty, and thereby violated Fla. Stat. § 843.02,
which makes resisting an officer without violence a