Skip to comments.SCOTUS Rules on Police Shooting...and Sotomayor's Scathing Dissent
Posted on 04/03/2018 5:47:43 AM PDT by Kaslin
The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a police officer who shot a woman outside of her home in Tucson, Arizona in May 2010. The officer, Andrew Kisela, shot Amy Hughes after she was seen acting "erratically," hacking at a tree with a knife and arguing with her roommate.
Kisela and another police officer, Alex Garcia, heard about the report on their patrol car radio and responded. A third police officer, Lindsay Kunz, arrived on the scene on her bicycle.
All three officers drew their guns. At least twice they told Hughes to drop the knife. Viewing the record in the light most favorable to Hughes, Chadwick said take it easy to both Hughes and the officers. Hughes appeared calm, but she did not acknowledge the officers presence or drop the knife. The top bar of the chain-link fence blocked Kiselas line of fire, so he dropped to the ground and shot Hughes four times through the fence. Then the officers jumped the fence, handcuffed Hughes, and called paramedics, who transported her to a hospital. There she was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Less than a minute had transpired from the moment the officers saw Chadwick to the moment Kisela fired shots.
Hughes, they later learned, had a history of mental illness. She and Chadwick were roommates and they apparently had a disagreement over $20.
Kisela, Garcia and Kunz defended Kisela's decision to shoot, noting they believed at the time that Hughes was a threat to Chadwick. Still, Hughes sued Kisela, alleging that he had used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
In their ruling Monday, the Supreme Court cited several other court cases as precedent in their acquittal of the police officer. They cited Kiselas qualified immunity, which protects public officials from damages for civil liability as long as they did not violate an individual's "clearly established" statutory or constitutional rights, Cornell explains.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, offering a different perspective of what transpired, concluding Officer Kisela acted hastily.
"Kisela did not wait for Hughes to register, much less respond to, the officers rushed commands," Sotomayor insisted. "Instead, Kisela immediately and unilaterally escalated the situation."
Furthermore, he gave no advance warning that he would shoot, and "attempted no less dangerous methods to deescalate the situation."
She also disagreed with her colleagues in terms of qualified immunity. An officer is not entitled to qualified immunity, she said, if (1) they violated a federal statutory or constitutional right, and (2) the unlawfulness of their conduct was clearly established at the time.
Hughes, Sotomayor noted, had not committed a crime. Furthermore, when the police officers arrived on the scene, reports indicate that Hughes was standing composed and content during her encounter with Chadwick. With the above context, the justice came to the following conclusion.
The majority today exacerbates that troubling asymmetry. Its decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public. It tells officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished. Because there is nothing right or just under the law about this, I respectfully dissent.
You can read the whole court ruling and Sotomayors dissent here.
The top bar of the chain-link fence blocked Kiselas line of fire, so he dropped to the ground and shot Hughes four times through the fence.
A fence separated them but he was scared and had to shoot her anyway????
Like the stupid Mexican klan member should even have a voice. Her opinion is La Raza’s opinion, not an American opinion.
Hughes suffered “non life threatening injuries” from the shots. So it appears that the cop shooter did not aim for the head or heart. Maybe a knee-cap would suffice. You don’t want to f*ck around when facing a knife.
Strange as it is to find myself agreeing with Sotomayor, in this case I do. We are giving police free rein to shoot first. That should be the last possible course of action.
You need to reread the story. You’re missing a key part of what happened. Just saying.
I think Hell may have just frozen over. I find myself in agreement with Justice Sotomayor.
Sotomyer is correct IMO. Had that been my sister or mother, I’d have been upset.
There’s a fence separating the officer and Hughes. Her roommate says, “take it easy”.
She was behind a fence. If he was scared he could have sat in his car and locked the door .
“they believed at the time that Hughes was a threat to Chadwick” The roommate was on the same side of the fence as Hughes.
Kisela, Garcia and Kunz defended Kisela's decision to shoot, noting they believed at the time that Hughes was a threat to Chadwick.
You must have missed that part. The roommate must have been close by.
Why you would want to be close to someone hacking away at a tree with a knife I dont know. Some people just cant walk away from an argument.
Chadwick was threatened and not beyond the fence
If Hughes had spun around and stabbed Chadwick while the officers were trying to talk her down, would we be slamming them for not taking action?
I think we would. And if Chadwick had got stabbed, she would be suing the police for not protecting her.
If somebody has a weapon and they are waving it around when the police show up, they are probably taking their lives in their own hands. But there will be people here who think the police can do no good and are always wrong.
The terrible thing for me is that I agree with Sotomayors dissent. The police need to use better judgement in these matters. But so do the people waving a weapon around.
they believed at the time that Hughes was a threat to Chadwick The roommate was on the same side of the fence as Hughes.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Does she have legs? She can’t run away?
Although a fence separated the woman with the knife from the officers, there was another woman standing 6 feet away from the woman with the knife. The officers might have been protected by the fence, but the other woman was in danger.
You were there? You know the topography of the site?
“A fence separated them but he was scared and had to shoot her anyway?”
No, Chadwick was the room mate in danger. The cop shot to protect the room mate. Sounds reasonable to me.
This shooting seems utterly egregious. The shootee was not in a position to hurt anyone right then with that knife. The officer was female which seems to generally be a problem. I have had some interactions
(traffic) with teams of police where one was females. The female always seems to be tense and and always seems as if trying to prove she is as badass as any man. Women also tend to be smaller and quicker to resort to deadly force. Once while the male was issuing a warning instead of a citation to the driver, the female had her hand on her gun the whole time. When Jared questioned the male politely about the citation she moved her hand as if to grip the gun. Of course this was Tampa and we had a North Florida plate which is as bad as an out-of-state plate in Kansas. There were two other times with equivalent worrisome females present.
The U.S. Constitution was written at a time when there was no such thing as a "police officer" as we now have them, and it would have been inconceivable for people to call in "the law" to deal with a petty dispute like this between two adults.
“Her opinion is La Razas opinion, not an American opinion.”
You think it’s an american opinion to shoot someone who is not breaking the law and is not threatening someone? If the roommate felt threatened she could have just left the scene.
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