How long must a police officer wait before forcefully entering under a knock and announce warrant?
In United States v. Granville, 222 F.3d 1214 (9th Cir. 2000), the Ninth Circuit held that waiting just five seconds before breaking down the door was unreasonable. Today in Howell v. Polk, No. 06-16418 (9th Cir., July 16, 2008) (opinion), the Ninth Circuit held that a five second delay was long enough when: "Plaintiffs lived in a small house, with a large picture window and a difficult-to-breach security door."
While Fourth Amendment cases are decided under the totality of the circumstances, and thus, time is but one factor; five seconds sure doesn't seem like much time.
One could argue that Howell was an appeal from a jury's verdict. So the panel was only saying that, as a matter of law, five seconds was not too short. I wonder what the Ninth has said about the opposite end: As a matter of law, do police officers act reasonably if they wait 30 seconds before forced entry? In other words, is the Ninth Circuit willing to set limits when those limits would limit liability, but not when those limits would impose liability?
I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't know if there is a "top side" rule. This is the type of Section 1983 trivia I pride myself in knowing. Time to brush up.
If anyone else has an answer, please leave a comment.