Appeals Court Rules in Rack ‘n’ Roll Pool Hall Case
Radley Balko | July 12, 2008, 2:35pm
A few weeks ago, a three-judge panel from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit tossed out (pdf) most of the civil rights suit filed by David Ruttenberg, owner of the Rack ‘n’ Roll Pool hall in Manassas Park, Virginia. Fortunately, the court did leave one Fourth Amendment claim that could save Ruttenberg’s case.
For a couple of years now, I’ve been reporting on how officials in the tiny town of Manassas Park have been harassing Ruttenberg and attempting to take away his business. The police there have been investigating Rutenberg for several years, for what they’ve recently said are drug crimes. As of yet, they’ve found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Ruttenberg. They’ve arrested him twice on charges unrelated to drugs—once for filing a false police report and once for bouncing a check—and in both cases the charges were eventually dropped.
The police in Manassas Park have hired informants to set up drug deals in Ruttenberg’s bar (which they later cited as evidence that Ruttenberg’s bar was a filled with drug activity). They’ve pulled over Ruttenberg’s former girlfriends, and threatened them with charges unless they provided information against him. They’ve even co-opted security Ruttenberg had hired specifically for the purpose of keeping drugs out of his bar, and had them set up drug transactions in the bar.