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Perrin v. Anderson

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
784 F.2d 1040 (1986)


Facts

Terry Kim Perrin was involved in a car accident, and two police officers (defendants) went to his home to question him about it. When the officers arrived at Perrin's home, Perrin was behaving erratically. Perrin eventually attacked the officers. After Perrin kicked and punched one of the officers in the face and chest several times, the officer shot and killed Perrin. The administratrix of Perrin’s estate (plaintiff) brought a civil-rights action seeking compensatory and punitive damages arising from Perrin’s death. The officers claimed self-defense. The officers made an offer of proof of eight police officers who could testify to many prior incidents in which Perrin had reacted violently toward the police. The court ultimately allowed four of the officers to testify at trial that they had been involved in previous violent encounters with Perrin, and that Perrin apparently hated police and always reacted violently when he came into contact with them. Specifically, these officers testified to five separate incidents involving violent outbursts, including that Perrin physically attacked officers and kicked the windshield out of a police car. The court admitted this testimony as character evidence under Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE) 404 and as habit evidence under FRE 406. Perrin's administratrix offered no evidence of any peaceful encounters between Perrin and the police. The jury found in favor of the officers, and Perrin's administratrix appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Logan, J.)

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