The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) limits the ability for cops to claim qualified immunity (QI). In this recent case, the court expanded the ability for victims of police violence to sue, Reuters reports.
On Thursday, March 25, the Supreme Court sided with Roxanne Torres. The New Mexico woman filed a lawsuit after she was shot by two police officers in 2014. When Torres saw the cops approaching her, she thought they were carjackers. So she fled in her vehicle. That’s when officers opened fire, injuring her.
In the 5-3 decision, “The court determined that in order to sue for excessive force under the Fourth Amendment, it is not necessary for a plaintiff to have been physically seized by law enforcement.”
“The case will now return to lower courts.” Reuters notes, “where the officers could seek to have the lawsuit dismissed on other grounds including the legal doctrine called qualified immunity that protects police and other types of government officials from civil litigation in certain circumstances.”
Even if the cops attempt to dismiss Torres’ case, SCOTUS’ decision looks promising to advocates of police accountability. These new SCOTUS limits on QI for cops have potential to reach far beyond this case. This and other similar rulings opens the door for plaintiffs to challenge the qualified immunity defense used by law enforcement officials accused of misconduct.
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