In First Blood" (1982), When John Rambo travels to the small town of Hope, Oregon, he was quickly spotted by the town's sheriff, Will Teasle. Teasle soon picks him up and drives him to the edge of town, while stressing his dislike of drifters and "trouble makers."

Rambo begins heading back into town immediately after being dropped off, and Teasle then arrests him when Rambo did not comply and takes him to the local police station.

And the story goes on...

Does the government of USA allow this kind of activities by a sheriff?

Does a sheriff possess power to kick somebody out of a town without any reason? Then if he doesn't want to be kicked off, does a sheriff have enough power to take him into custody?


Such laws, since the 1972 Supreme Court decision Papachristou v. Jacksonville, have to be written so that they're not arbitrarily vague or enforced and that proper public notice has to be given.

Since the movie was set after that time, it could be argued that Teasle wasn't acting within US law although a vagrancy law that predated that decision might still be on the books in the town.

His arrest and subsequent treatment could have been challenged legally, probably with some success, but his actions following it were illegal and more or less made it a moot point.

  • I like your reference. It surprisingly resembles the plot of the film. – user1215 Apr 27 '12 at 12:58

I think the definitions of sheriff versus that of police chief helps to distinguish whether Will Teasle is truly acting outside the allowable confines of the role.

The easy answer is that sheriffs exercise control exactly the way they want, subject only to the citizenry they serve, because the job is political in addition to law enforcement. His job incorporates law enforcement, but is much more. Based in the tradition of the "shire reeve", who served the dictates of the king, in current times, he serves the dictates of the citizenry who elected him. Keeping the town clear of vagrants seems exactly the type of loosely-defined role a sheriff would be assigned.

While I agree that Teasle may have been unfair and overzealous, I don't believe he did anything illegal. Stallone/Rambo clearly gave off the look and attitude of a drifter (long hair, dishevelled look, American flag decorations, backpack), and Teasle merely made a rapid decision to rush him out of town. For a sheriff who considered his God status unquestionable, Stallone clearly questioned it by returning to town. By twisting the sheriff's arm, he got his own twisted in return.

I don't even believe the actions of the deputies who cleaned Rambo up with the water hose were illegal, either, nor the attempted shave. Every prisoner everywhere gets a shower and a shave. Rambo was not cooperative, possibly even combative, so the exercise of constraint by the beating was something that could be described as defensive, and Rambo would need a witness to the contrary to form a case of brutality.

  • I know this is an old Answer, but Rambo wasn't "uncooperative" until after the shower. And the whole shaving incident was more than enough to show the police officers that a mental consult should have happened before anything else happened to him. They noticed the cuts on him in the shower. youtube.com/watch?v=LDRiecoUczA and youtube.com/watch?v=7FscnxeTD20 – computercarguy Jan 15 at 22:30

Sheriff Teasel illegally detained Rambo twice without probable cause. Teasel went on to failing to read him his Miranda rights which again lead to an illegal search of his person. A judge may find that an officer searched him for his own safety, but the arrest was baseless.

Walking is not vagrancy. An "American Flag" on your enlisted army jacket is not a decoration. No different than the American Flag on Sheriff Teasel's police jacket.

Attitude is conjecture. I was a fact, that John asked: "Why are you pushing me?", after asking about a place to eat. Teasel tells him about a place 30 miles down the road.

The sheriff had no grounds to arrest John Rambo. It was a clear violation of his Constitutional Rights.

How could you possible say the deputies actions were legal? After John takes off his shirt and turns around as commanded, he is struck with force in the small of the back by a police baton by Deputy Galt for no reason at all. Complete crime right there.

John Rambo then begins to defend himself after the brutal hose down and restraint put upon him as they bring a blade to his throat saying "I don't want you to cut your own throat." PTSD kicks in and survival mode takes over since no one seemed to follow any law except doing whatever they wanted to Rambo.

Later on in the film, the other deputies reveal to the Sheriff that Galt had been abusing Rambo. So there is the brutality charge.

Furthermore, after Galt falls from the chopper and Rambo puts his hands up to surrender, the police open fire upon him. Now the police could be charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon.

Despite all of this, Rambo did not kill anyone, Galt was at fault in the helicopter and at best Rambo was acting in self-defense as he is on a cliff, no gun, and being fired upon from a helicopter.

Perhaps you should watch the movie again. May want to check out the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights. Because, you know, cornering a suspect in a cave and firing a rocket launcher into the cave may be considered excessive force yet again.

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