United States v. Stevens

881 F.3d 1249 (2018)

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United States v. Stevens

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
881 F.3d 1249 (2018)

Facts

On September 16, 2016, Tulsa Police Department (TPD) officer Betty Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed African American man. The incident contributed to a heated national debate concerning use of force by police against minorities. In the days following the shooting, Connecticut resident Jeffrey Stevens (defendant) sent a series of 10 messages to the TPD using an online complaint form. In several of these messages, Stevens stated that Shelby and other TPD officers who shot unarmed civilians would be executed and commented that it might be necessary to also kill the officers’ families. None of Stevens’s messages mentioned that he was in Connecticut, and none of the recipients knew his location. Stevens was indicted for violating 18 U.S.C § 875(c), which criminalized interstate communication with intent to injure. Stevens moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that his messages were not true threats because (1) they were political speech and (2) he had no intent or ability to carry out the threats. The district court denied the motion, and Stevens appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Matheson, J.)

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