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United States v. Taken Alive
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
262 F.3d 711 (2001)
A law-enforcement officer approached Ralph Emeron Taken Alive II (defendant) after being told that Taken Alive was intoxicated and had been fighting. According to the officer, he verbally instructed Taken Alive that he was being arrested for intoxication and directed him to get in the patrol car. Instead, Taken Alive grabbed the officer’s throat and pushed him up against the car. The officer punched Taken Alive, who ran off. The officer followed, the two struggled, and the officer handcuffed Taken Alive. Taken Alive’s testimony differed. According to Taken Alive, the officer initially twisted Taken Alive’s arm sharply behind his back and then slammed Taken Alive’s head into the patrol-car door as he was putting Taken Alive in the car. Taken Alive fell to the ground, where the officer hit him with an unidentified object. Taken Alive pulled the officer’s jacket over the officer’s head and fled. The officer ran after Taken Alive, knocked him down, hit him with a baton, and then handcuffed him. Taken Alive was charged with unlawfully resisting arrest but claimed he had acted in self-defense. The arresting officer had a reputation for being aggressive and violent, and Taken Alive had assaulted law-enforcement officers on four previous occasions. Under the applicable evidentiary rules, evidence of Taken Alive’s prior law-enforcement assaults was not admissible. However, under Rule of Evidence 404(a)(2)(B), evidence of the officer’s reputation for violence was admissible to support Taken Alive’s self-defense claim. Despite this, the district court excluded the reputation evidence under Rule of Evidence 403, finding that it would be unfair to exclude evidence of Taken Alive’s violent character but allow evidence of the officer’s violent character. The jury convicted Taken Alive, and he appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bright, J.)
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