- The Supreme Court sided with police in two cases where plaintiffs claimed officers used excessive force and civil rights violations.
- In two unsigned opinions, the court said police are entitled to be shielded from liability unless it is “clear to a reasonable officer” that their actions are not lawful.
- Critics of the court’s decision say that qualified immunity lets police “off the hook” in virtually every case where their actions are not specifically prohibited.
John Fritze from USA Today writes:
“WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court sided Monday with police in two cases in which plaintiffs claimed officers used excessive force, overturning separate lower court rulings that had allowed the officers to be sued for civil rights violations.
In two unsigned opinions, the court stressed police are entitled to be shielded from liability unless it is “clear to a reasonable officer” that their actions are unlawful. In both cases the court ruled that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that protects police from liability for civil rights violations in many circumstances.
In one case, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that found an officer in California who placed his knee on a prone suspect could be sued. In another, it overturned a lower court ruling that two police officers in Oklahoma could be sued because their actions before a fatal shooting escalated the potential for violence…”
See full story here.