On Monday, the Supreme Court sided with police officers in separate qualified immunity cases. The pair of unsigned summary rulings were issued without dissent, reversing two federal appeals court rulings that previously allowed excessive for lawsuits against the officers to proceed.
The Supreme Court justices ruled both officers should be granted qualified immunity.
The Hill reports:
The California case involved a man wielding a chainsaw who had threatened his girlfriend and her two minor children, forcing them to barricade themselves inside a room, according to the 911 call.
When Union City police confronted the suspect, they noticed a knife in his pocket. Officer Daniel Rivas-Villegas put his knee on the suspect’s back, near the pocket that contained the knife, for a period of eight seconds, as another officer placed the suspect under arrest.
The Oklahoma case involved police responding to a 911 call that a woman’s ex-husband was intoxicated and refusing to leave her garage. When police arrived on the scene the man grabbed a hammer and raised appearing to prepare to throw it or charge at the officers. The officers then shot and killed the man.
The deceased’s estate filed a lawsuit against the officers, alleging their use of deadly force violated the Fourth Amendment. The district court sided with law enforcement, but a Denver-based federal appeals court overturned the ruling, finding that the officers had recklessly created the deadly situation by “cornering” the suspect in the garage.
In reversing the appeals court, the justices found the officers were entitled to qualified immunity because the court had not pointed to “a single precedent finding a Fourth Amendment violation under similar circumstances.”
The cases a big wins for law enforcement officers that have been under increased scrutiny amongst the “defund the police” movement.