The United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has recently ruled in favor of police officers in two separate excessive force cases.
The SCOTUS ruled that police officers are shielded from civil liability under “qualified immunity” as long as their conduct is not violating any constitutional rights.
In both cases, Rivas-Villegas v. Cortesluna and City of Tahlequah, Oklahoma v. Rollice, the entire court ruled in favor of the law enforcement on Monday.
For a brief context, Rivas-Villegas v. Cortesluna case, petitioner, Daniel Rivas-Villegas, a police officer responded to a 911 call from a 12-year-old girl who claimed that her mom’s boyfriend was using a chainsaw to threaten her and her mom along with her sister and the three victims were barricading themselves in a room.
Five police officers from Union City, California responded to the call. Upon confirming the identity of the suspect matching the one described in the 911 call, they saw a knife in his left pocket and instructed him to keep his hands up. The suspect refused to follow the orders and the officers were forced to shoot him twice with beanbag rounds leading him to comply with the given instructions. Officer Rivas-Villegas then placed his left leg on the suspect’s back while his partner removed the knife from the suspect’s possession.
Of course, it being in California, a lawsuit was soon filed against the police and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the officers claiming they used “excessive force”
The SCOTS on Monday overturned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision ruling that officer Rivas-Villegas’ force was justified to deescalate the situation and his actions were covered under qualified immunity.
In the second case, City of Tahlequah, Oklahoma v. Rollice,
Three police officers responded to a call from a woman who claimed that her ex-husband who was not living at the residence was in her garage, intoxicated, and won’t leave.
The officers approached the suspect and calmly talked to him, trying to deescalate the situation in peace. The officers even offered him a ride home. The suspect however wasn’t very cooperative. He appeared nervous and started to fidget in his pocket. To assure everyone’s safety, Officers Josh Girdner asked the suspect if they could pat him down for weapons. The suspect refused to let the officer pat him down.
Soon thereafter, the suspect started walking towards the workbench in the garage and grabbed a hammer, and held it towards the officers. The officers asked him to drop the hammer. But instead of dropping the tool, the suspect attempted to throw it towards the officers prompting two officers to open fire which took the life of this suspect.
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the officers citing irrelevant precedents. The SCOTUS on Monday overruled the lower court’s ruling since the officers were entitled to qualified immunity.
What do you think of The Supreme Court’s decisions in these two cases? Share your thoughts in the comments below!