Police Reasonable Use of Physical Force In Virginia

In Ford v. City of Newport News, 23 Va. App. 137, 474 S.E.2d 848 (1996), police officers were patrolling an area known for drug activity and prostitution. The officers approached the defendant, who was pushing a bicycle in a small park. When one of the officers asked the defendant to approach him, the defendant became "loud, angry, and uncooperative." The defendant used offensive language and threw his arms into the air. The defendant was arrested for disorderly conduct. On appeal, we reversed the defendant's conviction for disorderly conduct, finding that the officer had no reason to believe the defendant's conduct, no matter how offensive or rude, would provoke a violent response from the person or persons at whom the conduct was directed. See 23 Va. App. at 144, 474 S.E.2d at 851. Further, the Court found in Ford no evidence to support a reasonable belief that the defendant's conduct would cause a reasonable officer to respond with physical force. See id.