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Qualified immunity does not protect officer who killed man by threatening only himself, Sotomayor says

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Qualified immunity does not protect officer who killed man by threatening only himself, Sotomayor says

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented on Monday when the High Court declined to consider whether qualified immunity should protect a police officer who shot dead a man holding a gun to his chest. own temple.

Sotomayor disagreed with the denial of certification in an October 4 notice.

Publications covered include Reuters, The Hill, and Law & Crime.

Sotomayor said the U.S. 3rd Court of Appeals in Philadelphia erred when it ruled that qualified immunity protected the New Jersey state soldier who shot Willie Gibbons in May 2011. L he officer, Noah Bartelt, was facing a civil rights lawsuit by the Gibbons family. .

The 3rd Circuit had considered that Gibbons represented a danger because he was within range of fire on Bartelt.

But the officer knew Gibbons was mentally ill, Gibbons never threatened the officer and “the meeting was over in seconds,” Sotomayor said.

A federal judge had refused to grant qualified immunity to the summary judgment officer, citing disputed facts. They understood whether Gibbons’ right arm was at his side or raised in surrender, whether the officer had clearly instructed Gibbons to drop the weapon, and whether the officer had given Gibbons a chance to comply.

Sotomayor said the 3rd Circuit poorly resolved factual differences in favor of the officer and ignored a binding precedent to conclude that the officer did not violate a clearly established constitutional right.

Qualified immunity “does not protect an officer who inflicts lethal force on a person who poses only a threat to himself,” Sotomayor wrote.

Sotomayor said she would grant the certification request and summarily reverse the 3rd Circuit. The case is James vs. Bartelt.


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