U.S. Supreme Court Holds Police Officer Who Shoots Woman Holding a Knife Is Entitled to Qualified Immunity

A woman holding a knife was talking to her roommate while holding a knife. The knife was not being held in any threatening fashion. Responding officers went to the scene and called out to her to drop the knife. One decided to shooter the woman four times.

After the District Court granted summary judgment, the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding first that the action of shooting her clearly violated the Fourth Amendment. They also decided that the action of shooting her violated clearly established law meaning that the officer was not entitled to qualified immunity at the stage of summary judgment motions.

The United States Supreme Court, in a per curiam opinion, reversed the Ninth Circuit. They refused to decide that there was a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, but decided to assume there was a violation to conclude that the officer’s actions did not violate clearly established federal law. They decided that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity.

There is a vociferous dissent from Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ginsburg.

The case is Kisela v. Hughes, 17-467.


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