- Court: United States Supreme Court
- Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
- Date Filed: January 7, 2019
- Case #: 17-1660
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam
- Full Text Opinion
Two officers responded to a domestic violence 911 call, but were prevented from entering the caller's apartment to perform a welfare check. Respondent opened the door and attempted to move past the officers, one of whom stopped Respondent, took him to the ground and handcuffed him. Police body-cam video shows Respondent was not in any visible or audible pain as a result of the takedown. Respondent sued the police sergeant and officer, claiming excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The District court held that probable cause existed to arrest Respondent and granted summary judgment to the sergeant on the excessive force claim because only the officer was involved in the excessive force at issue. The trial court applied the Supreme Court’s precedents on qualified immunity granted summary judgment to the officer on that basis. The Ninth Circuit remanded for trial on the excessive force claims against both the officer and the sergeant. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide whether the police violated clearly established law when they forcibly apprehended Respondent. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals as to the sergeant, positing that the Ninth Circuit provided no explanation for its decision, and was therefore in error, especially in light of the District Court’s conclusion that the officer alone was involved in the excessive force claim. The Supreme Court held that the Ninth Circuit erred with respect to the officer as well because “[q]qualified immunity attaches when an official’s conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Kisela v. Hughes, 584 U.S. ___, ___ (2018). The clearly established right must be specifically defined and the Ninth Circuit merely stated that the right to be free of excessive force was established at the time which was too general for the requirements of qualified immunity. REVERSED IN PART, VACATED IN PART, and REMANDED for further proceedings.