Cheyenne Police Officers Found Liable For Illegally Breaking Into Man’s Home

Three former Cheyenne police officers are civilly liable for breaking into a man's home illegally after grabbing his pregnant wife, a U.S. District Court judge ruled. A jury will decide how much money the officers each owe the victim for their unlawful entry.

Clair McFarland

June 03, 20246 min read

A Cheyenne man can sue three police officers who illegally entered his home and detained him in Feburary 2020 in the 700 block of West 24th Street, a judge has ruled.
A Cheyenne man can sue three police officers who illegally entered his home and detained him in Feburary 2020 in the 700 block of West 24th Street, a judge has ruled. (Greg Johnson, Cowboy State Daily)

Claiming they were exempt from being sued didn’t work for three former Cheyenne police officers, whom a federal judge has found civilly liable for entering a man’s home illegally.  

The Thursday order marks a major turning point in the lawsuit Cheyenne resident Myron Martize Woods filed last March against Cheyenne Police Department Officers Logan Warren, Joanne Young and J.J. Miles.

The officers are no longer employed at the department, a spokeswoman said Monday.

It will be up to the jury to decide how much money the officers each owe to Myron Martize Woods for their unlawful entry, U.S. District Court Judge Kelly Rankin wrote in his order.

The lawsuit still has to go to trial or reach a settlement on Woods’ claim that police officers acted negligently. But Rankin dismissed some of Woods’ other claims, including allegations that the officers used excessive force on him once they got into his home, that they retaliated against him for shouting something at the scene, and that they battered him.

Woods had originally sued the Cheyenne Police Department and the city of Cheyenne as well, but the judge dismissed both entities from the case last year.

The Ex’s Call

On Feb. 13, 2020, Woods’ ex-girlfriend Brittany Jackson told Cheyenne police that Woods had grabbed her neck.

Officers Young and Warren spoke with Jackson, saw red marks on her neck, and determined they had probable cause to arrest Woods for domestic battery, which is a misdemeanor.

They went to Woods’ home without an arrest or search warrant and called Officer Miles to the house for backup, Rankin’s Thursday order recounts.

Young and Warren approached Woods’ front door while Miles arrived later and stayed at the bottom of the stairs. The officers were wearing body cameras.

Woods’ visibly pregnant wife answered the door and stepped into the threshold, with Woods standing behind her.

Warren and Young tried to pull Woods’ wife out of the way, a maneuver Rankin called “concerning.”

The following series of events is disputed, but the officers allege that Woods came up next to his wife and jutted a hand out of the house.

Warren grabbed Woods to make an arrest, then all three officers went into Woods’ home without consent to arrest him, while a struggle followed.  

Woods was handcuffed and taken to a police car. He was charged with domestic battery, but he was acquitted of that charge. He was charged and convicted of police interference, but the Wyoming Supreme Court overturned that conviction last year because the officers had triggered Woods’ resistance by entering his home illegally.

The Fourth Amendment

Police can enter a person’s home without a warrant if they have probable cause and “exigent circumstances,” like they’re finishing a hot pursuit that started elsewhere, or they have a fear that someone will be injured if they don’t break in, or they fear the suspect is destroying evidence inside the home.

The officers claimed they were acting in “hot pursuit” when they rushed into Woods’ home and arrested him, but Rankin refuted that.

“There was no immediate or continuous pursuit of (Woods) from the scene of a crime,” Rankin wrote.

The officers had argued that Woods breached his own threshold first by jutting an arm outside.

Rankin wasn’t sure whether Woods did so, but it doesn’t matter, he wrote, because the officers’ grabbing of Woods’ wife would have coerced Woods into sticking his arm outside.  

Police can’t unlawfully coerce a man into coming outside his own home as a Fourth Amendment workaround.

And because the officers violated Woods’ clearly established rights, they can’t insulate their conduct from liability using the qualified immunity defense, Rankin wrote.

But This Wrestling Match Wasn’t Too Bad

Woods had also asked Rankin to find the officers liable for excessive force for the wrestling match that happened in his home after the officers rushed inside it.

But Rankin did not do that. He instead dismissed that claim from the lawsuit.

“It is clear the officers did not throw Mr. Woods around when arresting him in his home, use objects to assist in detaining Mr. Woods, nor make any violent movements — making the force used minimal,” reads the order, adding that the officers’ level of force was in response to Woods’ level of resistance.

An excessive force claim is different from an unlawful entry claim, though they both invoke the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The officers’ qualified immunity defense claim was effective against Woods’ excessive force argument, Rankin wrote.


Rankin dismissed another of Woods’ claims: an allegation that the officers retaliated against him for something he shouted during the incident.

“A First Amendment retaliation claim is wholly inapplicable to the present situation,” wrote Rankin. Such claims are effective when a person who got arrested for voicing some protected speech sues those who arrested them, the judge added.

Woods didn’t show any evidence he was arrested for something he shouted. He was arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse.

Emotional Distress

Woods had accused the officers of intentionally afflicting emotional distress on him.

To win damages under that claim, Woods would have had to prove that the officers acted in an extreme or outrageous manner, but he did not, the order says.

“While troubling, defendants’ conduct does not go ‘beyond all possible bounds of decency,’” wrote Rankin, quoting from an earlier case. “This court ruled that defendants violated the Fourth Amendment when they arrested (Woods). Yet, it also held that there was no excessive force during the arrest.”

Rankin added: “Defendants’ unlawful intrusion into (Woods’) home is troubling, but that does not rise to the level of ‘atrocious’ and ‘utterly intolerable behavior’ needed (for Woods to win that claim).”

Headed To Trial, Or Maybe A Settlement

Lastly, Rankin wouldn’t judge Woods’ negligence claim against the officers either in their favor or in his.

That claim has to go to trial, or perhaps underpin a settlement agreement.

Woods has “extensively argued” the officers acted unreasonably, which is why Rankin wouldn’t dismiss the claim.

If Woods wants to win on that claim at trial, he’ll have to show the officers owed him a standard of care, they breached that standard of care in a way that harmed him, and that harm is compensable by money damages.

Rankin dismissed Woods’ claim the officers battered him, because Woods missed his lawful deadline to sue on that claim.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter