(Not a 9th Circuit case but relevant thereto)
When 9th Circuit judges read this Supreme Court case, their despair will be overwhelming. No longer can the 9th Circuit, who know nothing about police street work, continue their anti law enforcement record on summary judgments in civil rights cases.
In a per curiam opinion the Justices reversed the 5th Circuit and upheld the doctrine of qualified immunity for police officers. In the all too common police chase, the officers pursued a car at 80 to 100 miles an hour as one Leuja, a fugitive from an arrest warrant and intoxicated, raced through the streets. On the police radio he threatened to shoot the officers if they did not terminate the chase.
In an attempt to intercept the driver with spikes, the officers laid down a set on the road they knew the driver would travel. As the car neared the spikes, one of the officers decided to shoot at the car engine in an attempt to stop it. He drove to an overpass, and when the driver drove underneath, the officer fired his rifle. The car hit the spikes, rolled over, and killed the driver. At the trial, the estate representative alleged use of police excessive force. The court denied the officer qualified immunity on his motion for summary judgment. The 5th Circuit affirmed but the Supreme Court reversed.
The Supreme Court conceded these cases are difficult but all depend on the reasonableness of the officers’ conduct. Citing Brosseau v. Naugen, 543 U.S. 335 ((2004), a case reversing the 9th Circuit, the Justices held the trial court must consider all the facts and the reasonableness of the officer’s conduct. This Court knows spikes are not always effective and often place the officers in a dangerous position. Given all the facts, the officer at the overpass selected an alternative to eliminate the chase and protect the other officers. Immunity granted.