Law in Popular Culture

Wrong man arrested on 'troubling' reality TV show has no civil rights case, 7th Circuit rules

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Allowing a television reality show to pay and film police homicide detectives as they are investigating a case is hardly a good idea, a federal appeals court says.

And it is easy to see how such a joint effort by producers of The Shift and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department could encourage officers to make an arrest prematurely.

However, even though IMPD arrested the wrong man for a murder, former rap music producer Carlton Hart, a federal district court properly dismissed Hart’s civil rights case, the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) Monday.

That’s because a detective had probable cause to arrest Hart and made, as far as she knew, accurate statements in an affidavit, Courthouse News reports. Hart’s arrest then became the season finale on The Shift, and he spent nearly two years in jail awaiting trial before the charges were dismissed.

“There are many troubling aspects of IMPD’s investigation, and this case should warn police departments about having their detectives moonlight as television stars,” the appellate panel writes. “But on this record, we must affirm. Even the troubling aspects of the investigation do not add up to evidence of a violation of Hart’s constitutional rights.”

Related coverage:

Indianapolis Star: “Rapper spent 687 days behind bars before charges dropped in previous murder case”

Updated at 5:09 p.m. to add additional details.

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