Supreme Court sides with police; officers using deadly force in chases granted more immunity
By LEO Affairs staff
In an 8-1 vote, the Supreme Court sided with a Texas police officer in ruling that police are immune from lawsuits derived from using deadly force against fleeing suspects unless it is “beyond debate” that a shooting was unjustified.
The ruling came against an excessive force lawsuit filed by the estate of a man shot and killed while fleeing police on a Texas highway. The court ruled that Trooper Chadrin Mullinex cannot be held liable for the death of Israel Leija Jr. after firing a rifle at his car from a highway overpass.
According to the ruling, in 2010, Tulia PD officers approached Leija’s car at a drive-in restaurant with a warrant for his arrest, Leija sped off and headed for Interstate 27.
Leija entered the interstate and led the officers on an 18-minute chase at speeds between 85 and 110 miles per hour. Twice during the chase, Leija called the Tulia Police dispatcher, claiming to have a gun and threatening to shoot at police officers if they did not abandon their pursuit. The dispatcher relayed Leija’s threats, together with a report that Leija might be intoxicated, to all concerned officers.
Arriving at the first location Leija was expected to reach, and learning that officers were already placing spike strips underneath an overpass, DPS Trooper Chadrin Mullenix communicated his idea to shoot the car to disable it. Officers on the ground gave him a 10-4, but as he was positioning himself on the overpass, his Sgt. radioed for him to “stand by” and “see if the spikes work first.” It is alleged that despite not being in his vehicle and while taking the shooting position, that he was still able to hear his Sgt.’s instructions.
Approximately three minutes after Mullenix took his position on the overpass, he spotted Leija’s vehicle and fired six shots into the vehicle as it approached. Following the shots, the vehicle hit the spike strips, and rolled two and a half times. However it was later determined that Leija was killed by the Mullenix’s shots, four of which struck his upper body.
In a previous decision on the matter, the Supreme Court had similarly ruled:
“In Scott v. Harris, 550 U. S. 372, the Court held that an officer did not violate the Fourth Amendment by ramming the car of a fugitive whose reckless driving “posed an actual and imminent threat to the lives of any pedestrians who might have been present, to other civilian motorists, and to the officers involved in the chase.” Id., at 384. And in Plumhoff v. Rickard, 572 U. S. ___ (2014), the Court reaffirmed Scott by holding that an officer acted reasonably when he fatally shot a fugitive who was “intent on resuming” a chase that “pose[d] a deadly threat for others on the road.” 572 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 10). The Court has thus never found the use of deadly force in connection with a dangerous car chase to violate the Fourth Amendment, let alone to be a basis for denying qualified immunity.”
To sum it all up, SCOTUS gets this one right, and protects officers who are doing their job keeping everyone safe from frivolous lawsuits.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Immunity for LEO deadly force
Not a fan of many things SCOTUS has ruled recently, but they did this right. The day I'm told I cannot use my weapon in defense of another or myself is the day I call it a night. If you want then, call your friendly neighborhood crackhead.