L. C. BOIES, Larry Vawter, Jack Ashinhurst, Dan Zapien, and Anchor Casualty Company of St. Paul, Minnesota, Appellants,
Henry A. RAYNOR, Appellee.
[89 Ariz. 258] Charles C. Stidham, former County Atty., Phoenix, James J. Caretto, Chief Civil Deputy Atty., Phoenix, for appellants.
Moore & Moore, Phoenix, for appellee.
Henry A. Raynor, appellee (hereinafter called plaintiff) filed an action in the Superior Court of Maricopa County for false arrest. He claimed appellants (hereinafter called defendants) Larry Vawter, Jack Ashinhurst, and Dan Zapien, deputies of Cal Boies, had unlawfully detained him. Defendants contended plaintiff was never placed under arrest. Rather they contended
plaintiff voluntarily accompanied them to the sheriff's office on a warrant issued for one Henry A. Raynor for the purpose of being identified by the complaining witness.
At the conclusion of the trial the defendants moved for a directed verdict. This was denied and the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff in the sum of $1,000. The court later denied a motion for judgment non obstante veredictor and also denied a motion for a new trial.
Defendants assigned as error the trial court's refusal to grant defendants' motion for a directed verdict or in the alternative judgment non obstante veredicto or for a new trial. The assignment raises three questions, (a) was Raynor arrested, (b) did the officers use reasonable diligence and reasonably believe that the plaintiff was the person intended to be arrested, and (c) did the plaintiff sustain damages? In this determination we must construe the evidence most favorably in plaintiff's favor and if in this light the evidence is such that reasonable men may differ concerning inferences to be drawn from the facts, then we must sustain the trial court's action in submitting the case to the jury. Swetnam v. F. W. Woolworth Co., 83 Ariz. 189, 318 P.2d 364, 366.
As this Court stated in Swetnam v. F. W. Woolworth, supra:
'The essential element of false imprisonment is the direct restraint of personal liberty or the freedom of locomotion. The gist of false imprisonment is unlawful detention. There need not be actual force; the restraint may be from the fear of force as well as from force itself. Words alone are frequently sufficient to bring about the [89 Ariz. 259] actual restraint of liberty. False imprisonment may be committed by words alone, or by acts alone, or by both, or by merely operating the will of the individual. Jarrett v. St. Francois County Finance Co., Mo.App., 185 S.W.2d 855, and cases cited therein. Any restraint, however slight, upon another's liberty to come and go as one pleases, constitutes an arrest. There is an illegal arrest and false imprisonment of another where a person is [unlawfully] detained for any length of time against their will.' (Cases cited.)
Plaintiff testified that the defendants informed him he was under arrest. One of the defendants testified that the code numbers 10-15 were used over the radio. Admitted in evidence was an official police card containing official code numbers upon which the numbers 10-15 were recorded. The only meaning placed beside these code numbers were the words 'We have prisoner in custody'.
One of the defendants testified that he reminded plaintiff: '* * * if it's true what you say that you are not the man in this warrant, you will be immediately released and brought home.' Before one is released he must first be controlled or held in custody.
Plaintiff testified he did not accompany the officers of his own volition but merely because he realized that he was being taken into custody by law officers who seemed capable of enforcing their demands. We believe this evidence sufficient to sustain a finding by the jury that there was an arrest.
Granted the defendants had a proper warrant, did they use reasonable diligence to ascertain whether or not the plaintiff was the man named in the warrant and reasonably believe that plaintiff was the person to be arrested?
The evidence shows that the officers had two varying descriptions for Henry A. Raynor, neither of which accurately described plaintiff. They expressed some doubt that plaintiff was the Henry A. Raynor sought. Defendants did not find plaintiff at the address shown on the warrant. Instead they used an ...