Citizen’s arrest deemed illegal

Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown

Jacob Ludemann was granted a reversal by the South Dakota Supreme Court for a three-year-old public urination and driving under the influence arrest made by the South Dakota State University Police Department.

On Jan. 27, 2007, two uniformed SDSUPD student officers stopped Ludemann for public urination. Further investigation showed that Ludemann had been driving while intoxicated.

The student officers, Mark Hanneman and Cody Chambliss, asked him to stay with them until a law enforcement officer came to the scene.

“(The student officers) told us that we had to stay, and that we weren’t allowed to leave,” Ludemann said. “At one point they actually put their hand on the door, not letting us enter our building.”

Ludemann later appealed the arrest. His defense attorney claimed the student officers did not have the authority to arrest him and all evidence obtained by the student officers should be suppressed.

“Student patrol officers are not certified law enforcement officers, and they do not have the right to make an arrest,” said Don McCarty, Ludemann’s defense attorney.

“Student officers act as basically uniformed security, as well as doing ticket writing,” said SDSUPD Police Chief Tim Heaton. “They help officers with crowd control at games and dances, and they do night rounds on campus.”

Ludemann appealed his arrest in circuit and magistrate court, but the courts ruled in favor of the student officers, saying they were not overstepping their authority.

On Nov. 18, 2009, the case was argued again, this time before the Supreme Court, and the courts reversed Ludemann’s DUI conviction.

The Supreme Court ruled that public urination under the Brookings City Ordinance does not constitute anything other than a petty offense. As student officers, Hanneman and Chambliss did not have the authority to make a citizen’s arrest because they are only valid for crimes of more than a petty offense.

“A citizen’s arrest can stop (people) for a public offense, not a petty offense,” said Mark Kratochvil, Brookings County deputy state’s attorney. “In this case, they stopped him for public urination which was decided to be a petty offense, making it not valid under the citizen’s arrest statute.”

Ludemann said he thought the situation was not handled in the appropriate way.

“I think it was handled poorly,” Ludemann said. “I felt it was beyond their ability to stop me. They aren’t real police officers.”

The Supreme Court opinion reads: “Lacking any authority under which to detain Ludemann, his brief detention by Chambliss and Hanneman under the citizen’s arrest statute was an illegal arrest under the circumstances.”

“They ruled it as an unconstitutional detention, so the evidence against him will be suppressed,” said Kratochvil.

Since this case was reversed, the SDSUPD has drafted a new policy outlining a student officer’s authority.

“As soon as we discovered that there was even an argument to be made that the student officers were in the wrong, we changed our policy,” said Heaton. “Up until this case, we have never run into a problem.”

If a student officer sees someone committing a crime, they have been instructed to radio in for assistance.

“They only approach if it is a serious crime and someone is in danger,” Heaton said.

SDSUPD employs a total of 16 student officers, all of whom go through a two-week training process.

“Their training includes explaining the regulations of (SDSU’s) parking policy and a very short law enforcement-type training on how to communicate with people and the best ways to handle situations,” said Heaton. “They carry handcuffs and a radio on them to contact officers (while patrolling).”

Ludemann said he feels the Supreme Court’s reversal is a good example for SDSU students.

“Ultimately, this proves that student officers have no authority to stop (students) for any reason and that UPD was using their student officers in an inappropriate way,” Ludemann said. “Inappropriate measures were taken by UPD, and I hope that my case helps students understand that.”