Police Abuse

Justice Sotomayor Faults SCOTUS for Sanctioning 'Shoot First, Think Later' Tactics by Police

The liberal justice files a lone dissent in Mullenix v. Luna.

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Credit: White House / Flickr.com

In a per curiam opinion issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit which had refused to grant qualified immunity to a police officer who used deadly force in order to bring a high-speed car chase to a close. Writing in lone dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor faulted her colleagues for "sanctioning a 'shoot first, think later' approach to policing [that] renders the protections of the Fourth Amendment hollow."

At issue in Mullenix v. Luna was a 2010 high-speed car chase that ended when Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Chad Mullenix fired six shots in an attempt to disable the engine of the fleeing vehicle. Although Mullenix was told by his superior officer to "stand by" and "see if" the road spikes that had been deployed by the police "work first" to stop the vehicle, Mullenix nonetheless proceeded to take action. Four of the six shots he fired struck the fleeing driver, Israel Leija Jr., killing him.

In 2014 the 5th Circuit ruled that Trooper Mullenix was not entitled to qualified immunity because the "immediacy of the risk posed by Leija is a disputed fact that a reasonable jury could find either in the plaintiffs' favor or in the officer's favor, precluding us from concluding that Mullenix acted objectively reasonably as a matter of law."

Today the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that decision. "Whatever can be said of the wisdom of Mullenix's choice, this Court's precedents do not place the conclusion that he acted unreasonably in these circumstances 'beyond debate,'" the Court said.

That judgment drew a sharp rebuke from Justice Sonia Sotomayor. "Mullenix fired six rounds in the dark at a car traveling 85 miles per hour," Sotomayor observed. "He did so without any training in that tactic, against the wait order of his superior officer, and less than a second before the car hit spike strips deployed to stop it. Mullenix's rogue conduct killed the driver, Israel Leija, Jr. Because it was clearly established under the Fourth Amendment that an officer in Mullenix's position should not have fired the shots, I respectfully dissent."

The Supreme Court's opinion in Mullenix v. Luna is available here.

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  1. In a per curiam opinion issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit which had granted qualified immunity to a police officer who used deadly force in order to bring a high-speed car chase to a close.

    Er…

    In 2014 the 5th Circuit ruled that Trooper Mullenix was not entitled to qualified immunity

    1. Such little technical details are of little consequence; far more important is the strong precedent set by this excellent decision, which makes it clear that we know who you criminals are, and that you will be shot if you resist or flee from arrest. We can add this precedent to the even better one set a few years ago, putting an end to foolish efforts to hold prosecutors “accountable” for doing their job; and perhaps more importantly, to the efforts underway in New York to make sure that so-called “First Amendment” protection is withdrawn from inappropriately offensive writings such as Gmail “parodies.” See the documentation of America’s leading criminal satire case at:

      http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

      Yes indeed, it’s great to know that the justices are still doing their job. Hopefully they will soon put an end to the liberal assault on the strong, and appropriately random, policing of our dangerous streets, and to the foolish protests going on about the NSA’s surveillance program and necessary espionage in certain foreign-influenced communities in New York and elsewhere.

  2. “He did so without any training in that tactic […]”

    Wait, police are supposed to be trained?

    1. So if he had been trained to shoot at a moving vehicle then it would have been OK?

      1. If he had been trained, he’d have known a 5.56 patrol rifle was the wrong choice of weapon.

        1. You win.

      2. Not to mention that, again, training doesn’t supercede the laws of physics.

        I somehow doubt Mullenix was using a weapon meant to stop the vehicle as much as render it somewhere between dangerously debilitated and eventually inoperable.

        1. Its not the cop’s fault that the driver recklessly placed himself between the bullets and the engine…that was his choice. /sarc

      3. A old childhood friend of mine, who used to be very skeptical about cops is now training to become a state highway patrol pig. He now routinely parrots arguments used by the FOP and his fellow piglets.

        The other day I pointed out that cops can claim self-defense to justify shootings that regular people could never get away with. His response was to say that their broad ‘self-defense’ discretion is justified because they have training that regular CCW holders don’t. So apparently, people who are ostensibly a better shot with a gun, are somehow in more danger in a given situation than a person whose not as good of a shot, in the exact same situation.

        The vapid, self-interested, disingenuously nonsensical mindset has now fully taken root in his mind. It only took a few months of police training.

        1. His response was to say that their broad ‘self-defense’ discretion is justified because they have training that regular CCW holders don’t

          Wouldn’t that higher level of training carry with it a higher level of responsibility?

          The training that matters in whether to shoot or not isn’t what you get at the range. It is (or should be) training in recognizing bad situations early, de-escalating them, etc.

          I cannot think of how “more training” could lead to “less accountability”, can you? If you, as a non-MD, come on an accident scene and try to help the victims but they die because you didn’t know how to give medical care, you’re not going to be accountable. If, however, you are a physician, you just might get sued for doing the exact same thing.

          1. If anything it means more accountability. If we are to deviate from an otherwise objective standard of what constitutes ‘self-defense’, and I’m not so sure we should, it could only be to hold cops to a higher standard. But we know the real reason for different standards isn’t anything to do with training, it’s to do with preserving the King’s Men ability to completely lord over the smallfolk.

          2. It is (or should be) training in recognizing bad situations early, de-escalating them, etc.

            A while back there was something in the paper where a local cop was talking about the use of force, and said something to the effect that they are under no obligation to deescalate. Nor are they under any obligation to respond to force with a similar level of force. The message was basically “Do what you’re told or it’s gonna get ugly, and if you defend yourself I just might kill you for kicks. And nothing else will happen.”

          3. I cannot think of how “more training” could lead to “less accountability”

            In fact, exactly the opposite.

            It’s nothing more than a bullshit excuse to put themselves above the law. PERIOD.

          4. YOU WEREN’T THERE. YOU CAN’T SECOND GUESS A MAN OF HIS TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE.

            1. That IS an objective standard. Depending on the objective.

        2. Wife’s ex boyfriend did a summer internship as a cop (criminal justice major) on the Boardwalk in Jersey. Gave him a badge. She visited him and he’d become a completely different person. Drove the wrong way down a one way street, she said something and his reply was, “I can do anything I want…I’m a cop.”

          Doesn’t take long at all.

          Wife, just now, said…”How to lose a girl in a day.”

          1. his reply was, “I can do anything I want…I’m a cop.”

            It’s true though. Who’s going to stop him? The cops?

            1. That shit only goes so far before there is “pushback”.

              And really, yes, the cops. Many organizations police their own. The incentive is their public image. Doctors, lawyers the military… Nothing worse than a union to undermine that incentive.

              1. Cops don’t care. They believe they are overwhelmingly loved by society, and the only people who don’t like them are lawbreakers and race-baiters.

              2. Many organizations police their own.

                Governments, or any monopoly of law and dispute resolution, have notoriously bad records in policing their own. It’s very quaint that sometimes they like to have a good public image, but that is a comparatively weak incentive to do the right thing compared to the incentive that reasonably objective judicial proceedings provide.

                The moral hazards created by public sector unions is a mousefart compared to the moral hazards of policing oneself.

                1. A republic only works when the citizenry has the means and the will to push back. Cops are like they are because that’s the way the vast majority of people want them to be. The more atrocities that are brought to light, the more public opinion will turn against them and people will demand the heads of the perpetrators. And that’s what is slowly happening, thanks, in part, to the ability to record the encounters. And every single time they let one of their own off they make it worse for themselves.

              3. Just as the deposed dictators of Iraq and Libya were bewildered when the angry moms killed them, cops too believe that we are mere children and they are our brave protectors. In their minds, The People all love them. Any individual who does not must be doing something wrong.

                1. when the angry moms killed them

                  Mothers Against Deposed Dictators? Catchy!

                  1. Great. I pulled a John. Whatevs.

              4. lawyers

                LOL

          2. Oh god, Seaside auxiliaries. They’re the worst of the worst.

            Apparently dealing with junkies, guido juiceheads, and drunken high schoolers all day drives a man to dark places.

          3. reminds me of that ‘american dad’ episode where the alien -roger?- graduates from the police academy and becomes a corrupt cop, all within 24 hours.

        3. A cop’s job is not to enforce the law. That is a myth. Their job is to make people do what they are told, and to use as much violence as they want to while they’re doing it. Not doing what you are told is threatening behavior, and in a situation where you aren’t doing what you are told, the cop may kill you and justify it as self defense. And in their mind they will totally rationalize it. After all, you didn’t obey. You threatened the cop’s life by not obeying. So it was a good shoot. It’s always a good shoot.

        4. When I hit the word pig I pretty much stopped reading because it was obvious you stopped thinking long before you even began writing.

    2. The new professionalism emphasizes innovative new tactics.

    3. They are. The tactic is ‘Obey! Blam, blam, blam!’

    4. Four of six bullets penetrated the now dead perp’s chest

      “No training”…

      I guess twisted is just not a good enough word anymore.

      “I wasn’t trying to kill the driver, I mean really, why would anyone think so.”

  3. Good for her. Too bad she has to be a lone voice in the wilderness on this issue.

  4. I am not offended by the SCOTUS ruling.

    “On the night of March 23, 2010, Sergeant Randy Baker
    of the Tulia, Texas Police Department followed Israel
    Leija, Jr., to a drive-in restaurant, with a warrant for his
    arrest. 773 F. 3d 712, 715?716 (CA5 2014). When Baker
    approached Leija’s car and informed him that he was
    under arrest, Leija sped off, headed for Interstate 27.
    2013 WL 4017124, *1 (ND Tex., Aug. 7, 2013). Baker gave
    chase and was quickly joined by Trooper Gabriel Rodriguez
    of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). 773
    F. 3d, at 716.
    Leija entered the interstate and led the officers on an
    18-minute chase at speeds between 85 and 110 miles per
    hour. Ibid. Twice during the chase, Leija called the Tulia
    Police dispatcher, claiming to have a gun and threatening
    to shoot at police officers if they did not abandon their
    pursuit. The dispatcher relayed Leija’s threats, together
    with a report that Leija might be intoxicated, to all concerned
    officers. ”

    “When Mullenix fired, [Judge King] emphasized, he knew not
    only that Leija had threatened to shoot the officers involved
    in his pursuit, but also that Leija was seconds away
    from encountering such an officer beneath the overpass.”

    1. He shot at a car traveling 85mph. That is unbelievably reckless. I doubt that after the shots were fired the car quickly slowed to a crawl and shut down.

      1. Yes, the cop was a dick, but this is a horrible test case for that. Man with arrest warrant makes recorded threats against cops. Gets himself killed. There is lower hanging fruit.

        1. Maybe it’s just a case and not a test case.

          Shooting a car moving at high speed is just reckless and endangers innocent people.

      2. Shooting at a car travelling 85mph at an angle and hitting it is difficult, hitting one driving directly at you is not really difficult at all, or in my opinion reckless. I supsect that had this guy gotten past the police and killed someone you’d still be on the bad guys side.

    2. Did he actually shoot at cops? Did he actually have a gun? Did he do anything at all that justified a dangerous high-speed pursuit to stop him from imminent action that would be an even greater threat to public safety?

      What was the arrest warrant even for?

      1. What was the arrest warrant even for?

        Littering.

        1. Littering aaaaaaaandddddddddddddd?

          1. …creatin’ a disturbance.

            And they all moved back over and we had fun fillin’ out the forms and playin’ with the penvcils….

            +color glossy photgraphs with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one tellin’ what each one was

            1. I want you to go over to that bench labeled “Group W”.

            2. He looked at the judge, and his seeing eye dog, and concluded it was a typical case of American blind justice, and the judge wasn’t going to look at the color glossy photographs….

          2. OK, not littering exactly. Misdemeanor probation violations.

            The arrest warrant had been filed because (1) Leija had failed to complete all of his hours of community service, and (2) a new complaint of domestic violence had been filed against Leija, who was on probation.

            1. I take back my skepticism. That was definitely worth the high speed chase and Micheal Bay-esque shootout.

      2. The 5th circuit would have allowed the officer, who disobeyed orders and killed someone, to face a lawsuit for his actions, where the facts of the case could have been placed in front of a jury.

        What a novel idea.

        1. War on Cops, straight up.

      3. All arrest warrants are for failure to obey, which vests the armed agents of the state to inflict any level of violence needed to bring the failure to obey to an end.

      4. Resisting arrest, obvs!

      5. I agree, if any cop decides to chase someone who ignores sirens and red lights they should be sued for endangering the public, if any criminal decides to drive over the speed limit the police should just let them go on their way and if the criminal ends up killing someone the police should be sued for not stopping him.

    3. Leija was seconds away from encountering such an officer beneath the overpass

      I suppose those would be the officers with the spike strips, which was the reason the killer had been ordered not to shoot.

      Genius. Sheer genius. The reason he was ordered not to shoot becomes the reason his shooting was justified.

      1. The cop was out of the car before the order was given. I assume he said that he didn’t hear the countermanding order. Whether or not that was true. Unpossible to prove he heard it.

        1. Bullshit. This isn’t the 20th century. Thru all wear portable units with the speaker/mic on their shoulder.

      2. The reason he was ordered not to shoot becomes the reason his shooting was justified.

        Heads I win, tails you lose.

        1. Heads I win. Heads you lose. The coin is fixed.

      3. The officer under that overpass was far more likely to get hit by the out of control car than get shot by this guy. Completely reckless is right.

        1. Then don’t stand under an overpass in the path of a car.

        2. Actually the car and driver likely save the cop under the over-pass by intercepting Dep. Fife’s hail mary lead flinging.

    4. Cop used shitty arrest tactics, serving a warrant while the guy was in his car. An idiot could assume there was some chance the guy would try to escape.

      Step 2: Chase the guy. motivating him to drive at incredibly dangerous speeds as well as the cop also driving dangerously. Suggestion: next time, let him go. He’ll drive away and probably not that fast nor for very long. Try the arrest again some other time, but next time, try to do it right.

      Reminds me of those nature shows of the guys in trucks chasing rhinos across the plains of Africa. Those rhinos would run like a motherfucker, I wonder why? Maybe because someone was chasing them? And then eventually the rhino would get tired and desperate and start attacking the truck.

  5. The supreme court have endangered innocent americans lives by allowing the police and there old guard unions to execute and assassinate american citizens. Especially minorities are being killed for minor paranoid racist reasons by the police nationwide and the police are celebrated and given indifinate paid vacations as rewards for murder. We see over and over on video people being assassinated by the police and there is no accountability. The justice is rigged, local prosecutors are friends with police officers and are rarely charged when they break the law. Why is nobody in law enforcement keep actual data regarding Police misconduct?

  6. “Because it was clearly established under the Fourth Amendment that an officer in Mullenix’s position should not have fired the shots, I respectfully dissent.”

    The respect isn’t necessary. Though I know you have to work with these people.

  7. You know who else had shoot first, think later tactics…

    1. Han Solo?

    2. Ron Jeremy?

    3. General Custer?

    4. Annie Leibovitz?

    5. Claudine Longet?

    6. Yosemite Sam?

    7. Dick Cheney?

    8. George Lucas?

    9. Any 14 year old male?

    10. Micheal Jordan?

  8. Sotomay-more of this in the Supreme Court, am I right?

    1. Go get in your shame corner, Donny.

    2. Sorry, CJ. The Wise Latina quota has been filled.

        1. …the fuck does that mean?!?

          1. It’s a warning message commonly seen on HP LaserJet printers and means that the user should load Letter-sized paper into the printer.

            1. You just answered the ultimate rhetorical question. You’re a bad person.

  9. I gotta admit – Sotomayor is less of an embarrassment than I thought she would be.

    1. She’s been the most consistently correct SCOTUS justice on 4th amendment and criminal justice issues since she was confirmed to the court.

      I mean, she’s been awful on everything else. But … baby steps.

    2. I came here to say this.

      Not good, but much less-bad than I thought, and – sometimes – actually correct! Like now!

    3. We both may agree with Sotomayor’s opinion on the case, but that’s not the issue. Sotomayor’s problem isn’t primarily with her political opinions, it is that she views SCOTUS as a legitimate means by which to impose her political opinions and prejudices on the American people. That is what makes her so unsuitable as a supreme court justice.

      Of course other supreme court justices suffer from this problem as well; I’m just pointing out that you shouldn’t turn Sotomayor into a heroine just because on some issues, she rules with political prejudices that you happen to agree with.

      1. “less of an embarrassment than I thought she would be” is pretty far from making someone a heroine.

        The SC will never be not politicized.

        1. They have to pass Congressional muster. You know. A vote.

  10. Eight.
    To.
    One.

  11. Obama appointed her. She’s a witch. A commie witch.

    BURN HER!

    1. Can I get a bulk rate discount?

    2. Her confirmation hearing is what got me. (paraphrased) “I’d make a good SCOTUS Justice because I’m not a white male.” Because we all know that the application of philosophical and legal principles is a facet of one’s ethnicity and gender.

      1. In all fairness, I AM a white male, and I’d probably make a terrible SCOTUS justice. Given the level of reasoning we’ve seen coming out of the court as late and given the evidence of my inability to do the job effectively, I’d have to say she has a point

        1. Because we all know that the application of philosophical and legal principles is a facet of one’s ethnicity and gender.

        2. I am sure you could read the Constitution just as effectively as a SC Justice.

          1. This should go in the dictionary under the entry for “Damning with faint praise”.

            1. Ha…I had a similar thought right after making the post.

      2. Yeah, but what do you expect?

        Thomas is on the court because it needed a new black person.

      3. Her point is that her life experience, in part determined by her race and sex, might allow her a deeper perspective on some issues, and she is proved correct on occasion, such as this one.

  12. Whatever can be said of the wisdom of Mullenix’s choice, this Court’s precedents do not place the conclusion that he acted unreasonably in these circumstances ‘beyond debate,

    To me, that reads like it is a jury question. I’m reading that to say that, per precedent, the issue of whether he acted unreasonably is not beyond debate.

    I’m guessing that we are now at the point, though, where a cop only goes in front of a jury if there is no debate that he broke the law. If there’s any question, he walks. Unlike you or me, where we don’t go to trial only if there is no question that we didn’t break the law.

  13. Here’s one to add to the discussion.

    Cop intentionally runs over suicidal man with a gun.

    We had to burn the village to save it.

    1. In the cop’s defense, the guy had a rap sheet and had committed other crimes. But did the immediate situation justify that action?

      1. I was a good kill shoot run over life termination end to the proceedings

      2. But did the immediate situation justify that action?

        Not even close. The gun would’ve only damaged the guy’s head. The squad car clearly annihilates some private property and does a decent job of endangering the officer and others. Not to mention that a squad car is a pretty expensive public bullet. The most disgusting part is that pretty much every officer on the scene except the one actually hitting the suspect/criminal/victim is surprised by the outcome.

        Did the suspect even ask for a car?

        1. Good one, but I like this one:

          and I want a new car!

        2. Damn Oprah. Everyone loved her when she gave the poors cars.

  14. One other thought:

    The killer here disobeyed orders when he opened fire. Why doesn’t that make his actions per se unreasonable?

    1. The issue here is not whether his actions were reasonable, but who gets to determine that. And that should be the state court system, not SCOTUS.

      1. I don’t see anything about state court involvement one way or the other. Most likely, the state courts have already answered–they aren’t even going to hear the case because of qualified immunity. Hence the federal suit. Ultimately, SCOTUS said qualified immunity applies–so, in effect, it upheld the state’s ruling on the matter.

  15. The only thing piss are good for is bacon. And ham. And pork chops.
    But giving pigs guns and immunity is insane.

    1. Remind me to never eat BBQ at your house. I’m not sure I’m down with your secret ingredient.

      1. Cut him some slack, he grew up on a piss farm.

      2. Yes well, I may have mentioned how much this phone sucks. It belongs to work, and I’m on call, and I don’t want to carry two phones. But the auto spell is really bad, and I can’t find a way to shut it off.
        So, just to let the market work, I’m telling everyone not to buy a windows phone. Just don’t do it. And the auto spell is just one of many problems with this phone.
        And what kind of programming thinks that it’s more likely I meant “piss” instead of “pigs”.
        Stoopid phone. It’s the Nokia Lumina, btw, I’m guessing the cheapest phone my work could find.

        1. You know who else didn’t want to carry two phones?

          /Sorry, couldn’t resist.

          1. I AM NOT HITLER!!1!!eleventyone!!

            1. I AM NOT HITLER Hillary Clinton!!1!!eleventyone!!

        2. If stupid Reason would just change to a comment system that allows edits.

          1. Hahahahaha an edit button, you say? Hahahahahahahahahahah

  16. Since I’m not going to RTFA what, pray tell, firearm was the good officer carrying when he shot? Because thinking back on every weapon I’ve ever seen a cop carry there was approximately a 0% chance he was going to be able to disable a car firing a 9mm hand gun or a 5.56 rifle round at the engine. I’ve manned an entry control point, I’ve seen how much abuse an engine can take from significantly larger rounds. The only way shooting at an engine is going to stop a car is if you miss and shoot the driver.

    1. Cops don’t carry .50 cal in their trunks? What?

    2. It woudn’t have to penetrate the block.

      A water hose or radiator, even the surpentine belt woud work.

      1. A water hose or radiator, even the surpentine belt woud work

        Eventually…after the perp had traveled quite a few miles. Not exactly the immediate solution that the officer claimed he was going for.

    3. The only way shooting at an engine is going to stop a car is if you miss and shoot the driver.

      In other words…it worked!

  17. This is some bullshit reasoning by SCOTUS:

    Here, however, it is conceded that Trooper Mullenix
    did not shoot to wound or kill the fleeing Leija, nor
    even to drive Leija’s car off the road, but only to cause the
    car to stop by destroying its engine. That was a risky
    enterprise, as the outcome demonstrated; but determining
    whether it violated the Fourth Amendment requires us to
    ask, not whether it was reasonable to kill Leija, but
    whether it was reasonable to shoot at the engine in light of
    the risk to Leija. It distorts that inquiry, I think, to make
    the question whether it was reasonable for Mullenix to
    “apply deadly force.”

    Firing a rifle at a car is not “deadly force” if you didn’t mean to kill him? WTF. I do think it’s a reasonable question for the jury to ask whether or not he knew, or should have known, he was likely to kill Leija by shooting at his car. Sounds like the plaintiff (prosecutor?) blew it by conceding this point. Or maybe that was a feature and not a bug.

    1. It’s not deadly force when you aim at the driver and then lie and claim you really weren’t. Remember that cops lie about pretty much everything. When a cop gives an account of events, it is safe to assume the opposite is true.

    2. It’s also a good technique to try flipping something around and asking yourself if the results would still be the same. Guy shoots at cop car and kills cop, argues, “I wasn’t trying to kill him, just to stop his car.” How likely do you think it is that any court on earth would say, “Oh, OK, that sounds good”?

      1. Good question, provided you can explain when it would ever be legitimate for an armed citizen to shoot at a cop car that wasn’t engaged in illegal activities.

  18. Obviously, “shoot first, think later” is generally a lousy policy for police departments. However, I don’t see why SCOTUS should get involved. Policing is a local matter and murder is usually a crime at the state level. So, local politicians and state courts should address this. For SCOTUS to impose tight restrictions on local police departments is both unnecessary and potentially harmful.

    From a libertarian point of view, you have to realize that in a nation that has tens of thousands of town, city, and county governments (and a million police officers on the street), it’s inevitable that some of these local governments make bad decisions and that you see outrageous police misconduct every few days. People making bad decisions is the price we pay for living in a free society.

    1. Um, maybe because this was a federal lawsuit? SCOTUS tends to get involved in those.

      1. Moreover, SCOTUS got involved specifically to prevent the officer from possibly being held accountable, remanding the Fifth Circuit, which held that he was not shielded from personal liability by qualified immunity. Unless “freedom from consequences” is now a plank of a free society, I don’t see how what Win Bear said squares with the facts of the case. Piercing the shield of qualified immunity doesn’t affect the local government or the police department’s policies, nor does it even ensure that the officer in question will be punished in any way. It simply grants the opportunity for the aggrieved parties to sue him as an individual for his actions.

        1. Unless “freedom from consequences” is now a plank of a free society, I don’t see how what Win Bear said squares with the facts of the case.

          Scratch this, it is just flat out wrong.

    2. People making bad decisions is the price we pay for living in a free society.

      Are you saying that qualified immunity is a facet of a free society? If so, why does it apply only to police, and not to all of us?

      1. OK — I read more into Win Bear’s post than what was actually there.

        However, what he/she said doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in light of the facts of the case. SCOTUS got involved because the Fifth Circuit was involved, and SCOTUS didn’t tell local PDs what to do.

        1. You’re reading his correctly. He is not making sense because he thinks this is SCTUS deciding on the merits of the incident and it’s not – or at least it shouldn’t be, but they are as part and parcel of their justification for not allowing private actions against the King’s Me. They have been consistently FUCKING HORRIBLE at this, so it is not exactly a surprise.

          They have created more immunity for the Executive branch than you could possibly have imagined, including even government contractors, which is also why the liberal justices flipped out in their opinions against the conservatives in Paula Jones’ case, where the conservative majority let Clinton be sued and argued it wouldn’t interfere. It was fucking laughable.

          On the issue of government immunity, a jury down in Luisiana whacked that corrupt as fuck DA’s office for some death penalty cases they fixed and the Supreme Court through it out. Once again, immunity (and FYTW).

          The court is now so politicized along Team Blue/Team Red lines there is no Team Liberty justice bloc at all, so we’re all getting fucking creamed.

    3. Policing is a local matter and murder is usually a crime at the state level.

      The issue just might be that some local police agencies have carved out an exception to murder laws for themselves. That’s something that merits some dispute resolution, no?

    4. The federal government and SCOTUS are involved precisely because the Constitution and federal law recognize that the states fuck up on the freedom thing sometimes and provided avenues for people to have their grievances heard in forums that are not compromised. (This is at least in theory.)

  19. The SCOTUS has it bass-ackwards.

    The are terrified that if they hold one of these murdering cops accountable, it will be precedent setting and open the floodgates for cops to be charged with murder willy-nilly.

    When in fact, if they would just hold one cop (just one) accountable, it would set a precedent that would spread through the police ranks like wildfire and the number of these reckless murders would be greatly reduced.

    It would be, in the words of a new-ager I once knew, “a paradigm changer”.

    1. You, sir, have struck the nail truly.

      But during the entirety of my law career, these fuckers have been unbelievably pro-sovereign immunity. It’s been that way for 30 years. See Stanley v. U.S. It’s from the late 80’s, IIRC. Guy with some serious medical problems and a life in shambles gets a follow up call from military medical regarding his “condition” – some bureaucratic snafu and they were asking about how he was doing after the CIA/Army MK Ultra program, which he was unknowingly given LSD and he’s been fucked up for years. Army medical follows up to “see how ya doin’, bro!” and he files suit. 5-4 they find the Feres doctrine still applied to that. Un-fucking-believable.

      Seriously.

      I might agree with the one finding govt contractor immunity for Sikorsky for the Marine 1st Lt helo pilot who died when his 53 went in. Family said it was partly due to the faulty exit doors, which were atrociously made. Scalia said they were entitled to near complete immunity because they designed it to spec for Uncle Sugar and if Uncle Sugar wants to make shitty doors for the war effort, my friend, fuck you, that’s why. Them’s the fortunes of war.

      Oddly enough, I think he might be right, but not from a legal perspective per se, from one of military considerations. What, we should have mobilized the economy more and a jury’s going to decide if the govt was too cheap? As much as I hate how broad Scalia’s language is for other cases, I think the decision may be right for the wrong reasons.

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  21. Do you honestly think Red Sonia, the unwise Latina, would have cared about this if the shooter had been Hispanic and the driver white?

    1. Yes. Next question.

  22. Jeez! Who’d have thought at Sotomayor would get something right that the rest of the boobs-in-black got wrong? And this is the second time!

  23. Well…It finally happened. I agree with Sotomayor!

    Cops have a gun for one purpose, to end a threat to there lives (same as a civilian). The gun is not for the purpose of disabling vehicles, silencing dogs, or saving you from the effort of a foot chase – all things that send a person without a badge to jail. Qualified immunity is bullshit – where are the “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear” cops on this issue?

    1. Sotomayor is consistently on the individual’s side when it comes to criminal justice and 4th Amendment. I think it has something to do with her background; she is the only justice that has actually worked full-time for “regular” people when she was in private practice, not just for Big Law or for government. It’s a much-needed perspective when it comes to 4th Amendment jurisprudence.

  24. Okay, so causing a death when you are objectively reckless with a firearm AND disobeying a direct order from a superior will not pierce “qualified immunity”. What the fuck will?

  25. Remember, this is the same Justice who supports Reverse Racism Affirmative Action, when she ruled in favor of it while on the Circuit Court, and to uphold her circuit court decision when it came before SCOTUS.

  26. Just as every once in a while a blind squirrel finds a nut, every now and then a Liberal makes sense!

  27. And I should care about her dissent because?

  28. So, If the cop was firing at the “engine”, how did four of six shots hit the driver?

    Is the cop lying, or just a crappy shot?

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