U.S. Supreme Court Ruling makes it Harder to sue Police for Barging into Homes
In May, the United States Supreme Court unanimously sided with sheriff’s deputies in a legal dispute stemming from 2010 involving an innocent couple being shot while California deputies searched for a wanted man. The justices ordered a lower court to take another look at whether the deputies should be held liable for the shooting. The ruling also overturned the $4 million awarded in damages to the couple by a federal appeals court. Justice Samuel Alito stated,
We hold that the Fourth Amendment provides no basis for [a provocation rule]. A different Fourth Amendment violation cannot transform a later, reasonable use of force into an unreasonable seizure.
Deputies were searching for a parolee in a home in Lancaster when they entered a shack in the backyard. Upon arriving, the deputies saw an armed man and fired shots that seriously wounded him and his pregnant girlfriend. However, the man they confronted was not the suspect they were searching for and it turned out that he was carrying a BB gun. A federal appeals court ruled that the deputies were liable because they provoked a violent confrontation by entering the shack without a warrant. The Supreme Court’s ruling in this case is sure to impact future court cases dealing with police lawsuits.
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