Karen Daley, head of the Firm’s appellate division, successfully defended on appeal a local police department in a case involving a fatal police shooting. The case arose out of a standoff with a suspect who barricaded himself in a room after U.S. Marshals attempted to arrest him on a warrant for felony possession of cocaine. The suspect had multiple weapons that he had pointed at law enforcement officers, he had made multiple threats to kill law enforcement officers, he repeatedly threatened to “come out shooting,” and he refused to surrender. After ten hours of negotiations, cameras revealed that the suspect appeared to be asleep, so the SWAT team entered the room. The officers were armed with automatic weapons and a “flash bang” distraction devise was deployed. However, upon entry, the suspect fired at an officer. The officer returned fire, killing the suspect.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held, in a published opinion, that the officers are entitled to qualified immunity because they did not violate the suspect’s constitutional rights. Specifically, the Court determined that the use of the flash bang was reasonable, the use of automatic weapons was reasonable, and the officer’s use of deadly force did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Despite the fact that the suspect was shot twenty times, the Sixth Circuit held that once the suspect delivered on his threat and fired at the officers, it was reasonable for the officer to fire back and could keep firing until the threat was over.
Ms. Daley can be reached at (734) 261-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For updates on additional police cases, follow @policedefenders on Twitter.