Why Is It So Hard To Sue a Bad Cop?

"Redress for a federal officer's unconstitutional acts is either extremely limited or wholly nonexistent."


In 2019, Department of Homeland Security Agent Ray Lamb was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and misdemeanor criminal mischief. He'd had an altercation in a Conroe, Texas, restaurant parking lot with Kevin Byrd, the ex-boyfriend of Lamb's son's girlfriend. According to Byrd, Lamb threatened him with a gun and tried to smash the window of his car. After Byrd called the cops for help, Lamb pulled out his federal badge, which led the officers to handcuff Byrd and detain him for several hours. It was only after the police reviewed the security camera footage that Byrd was released and Lamb finally placed under arrest.

Byrd sued Lamb over the incident, but in March 2021 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit flatly dismissed his civil rights lawsuit. Why? According to one member of the court, its hands were tied.

"Middle-management circuit judges must salute smartly and follow precedent," Judge Don Willett regretfully explained in his concurring opinion. "And today's result is precedentially inescapable: Private citizens who are brutalized—even killed—by rogue federal officers can find little solace" in U.S. Supreme Court case law. The unfortunate reality, Willett observed, is that "if you wear a federal badge, you can inflict excessive force on someone with little fear of liability."

Vindicating your rights in court is a cornerstone of the rule of law. As the famous British jurist William Blackstone observed, "in vain would rights be declared, in vain directed to be observed, if there were no method of recovering and asserting those rights, when wrongfully withheld or invaded."

Blackstone's dire scenario resembles what is happening in the United States today in cases like Byrd v. Lamb. File suit for damages against a lawless federal officer, and the federal courts likely will toss the suit in the name of following precedent. As Willett noted in his judicial protest, "redress for a federal officer's unconstitutional acts is either extremely limited or wholly nonexistent, allowing federal officials to operate in something resembling a Constitution-free zone."

How did this sorry state of affairs come to pass?

'A "Disfavored" Judicial Activity'

In 1967, a Brooklyn man named Webster Bivens sued a group of federal narcotics agents in federal court for busting into his apartment without a warrant, ransacking the place, shackling him in front of his family, and later strip-searching him at the federal courthouse. Bivens won.

"That damages may be obtained for injuries consequent upon a violation of the Fourth Amendment by federal officials should hardly seem a surprising proposition," observed Justice William Brennan in the 1971 case Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. "Historically, damages have been regarded as the ordinary remedy for an invasion of personal interests in liberty." In other words, federal officers can be held civilly liable for conduct that violates constitutional rights. Lawyers call this sort of legal action a "Bivens claim."

Eight years later, in Davis v. Passman (1979), the Supreme Court sustained a Bivens claim filed by a former congressional staffer who alleged workplace sex discrimination in violation of the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause. A year after that, in Carlson v. Green, the Court permitted an Eighth Amendment Bivens claim filed by the estate of a federal prisoner against his captors, alleging that they contributed to his death by denying him medical treatment.

Alas, it has been downhill for Bivens ever since. In subsequent decades, the Supreme Court not only refused to recognize any new Bivens claims; it did practically everything in its power to neutralize the decision short of overruling it outright.

Consider the Court's 2017 decision in Ziglar v. Abbasi. The case involved several detainees held in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks who alleged abusive treatment. Citing national security concerns, the Supreme Court readily dismissed their Bivens claims against various federal officials, including former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James Ziglar. At the same time, the Court made it clear that future Bivens plaintiffs would have to clear a very high bar before getting their own days in court.

If a Bivens claim arises in a "new context," meaning "the case is different in a meaningful way from previous Bivens cases decided by this Court," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, the presiding judge must scour the record for any "special factors counselling hesitation." For example, Kennedy said, "the risk of personal damages liability is more likely to cause an officer to second-guess difficult but necessary decisions concerning national security policy." If any such "special factor" is found (or simply invented by the judge), the lawsuit against the federal officer must be dismissed.

Three years later, in Hernandez v. Mesa (2020), the Court reaffirmed its hostility toward Bivens plaintiffs. "If we have reason to pause before applying Bivens in a new context or to a new class of defendants," wrote Justice Samuel Alito, "we reject the request." In short, as Kennedy put it in Ziglar, "the Bivens remedy is now a 'disfavored' judicial activity."

The lower courts got the message. In Oliva v. Nivar (2020), the 5th Circuit dismissed a Bivens claim by 70-year-old José Oliva, a Vietnam veteran who was beaten and permanently injured by federal police at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in El Paso, Texas. According to Oliva, the officers took a disliking to him because he did not immediately show his ID, which was momentarily out of his reach in a metal detector bin. He also spoke up against their verbal bullying. "I got a problem with this man," one of the officers reportedly said about Oliva's lack of deference. "He's got an attitude." The same officer placed Oliva in a chokehold and slammed him to the ground, severely injuring his shoulder.

The 5th Circuit characterized Oliva's civil rights lawsuit as a "new context," which is basically the kiss of death for Bivens claims. Yes, the court admitted, both Oliva and Bivens centered on allegations of Fourth Amendment violations by federal officers. But "this case differs from Bivens in several meaningful ways." For one, "the case arose in a government hospital, not a private home." For another, "the VA officers were manning a metal detector, not making a warrantless search for narcotics." From there it was all too easy for the 5th Circuit to find "special factors counselling hesitation," such as the fact that Congress specifically "did not make individual officers liable for excessive-force claims."

In sum, thanks to SCOTUS-sanctioned legal hairsplitting, a victim of abusive federal policing did not even get a chance to make his case for damages.

'Merited Punishment'

Bivens became "a 'disfavored' judicial activity" because a majority of the Supreme Court has come to see it as an example of judicial activism, a modern ruling that empowered federal judges to do something they should not do. The late Justice Antonin Scalia called Bivens "a relic of the heady days in which this Court assumed common-law powers to create causes of action." Justice Clarence Thomas has argued that "the analysis underlying Bivens cannot be defended."

But was Bivens really such a radical departure? Not when considered in the full light of American legal history. Indeed, the idea that federal judges have the authority to impose damages against lawless federal officers is as old as the republic—older, in fact, since it comes from venerable British common law judgments that directly influenced the founding generation.

In Entick v. Carrington (1765), for example, the chief justice of Britain's Court of Common Pleas, Lord Camden, weighed a suit for damages filed by the Grub Street journalist John Entick against three messengers of King George III. The messengers, acting on a general warrant issued by the secretary of state, Lord Halifax, broke into Entick's home by force of arms, destructively rifled his belongings, and carried away various papers and effects.

It is "incumbent upon the defendants to show the law by which this seizure is warranted," Camden declared in his judgment. "If that cannot be done, it is a trespass," and the king's messengers are "liable to an action." In what is now remembered as one of the great early victories for civil liberty against overreaching government power, Camden ruled the defendants liable because the general warrant they acted under "is not law."

That ruling heavily influenced what would become the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And it is no wonder that it did. As Yale legal scholar Akhil Reed Amar noted in his book The Bill of RightsEntick v. Carrington was "one of the two or three most important search-and-seizure cases on the books in 1789."

America's founding generation was deeply committed to seeing the judiciary hold wayward federal officers civilly liable for their misdeeds. That commitment is readily apparent when you examine the debates over the ratification of the Constitution, in which both sides subscribed to this particular view of the judicial role.

In 1788, for instance, the Anti-Federalist writer known as Maryland Farmer argued that "whenever an officer had deviated from the rigid letter of the law," that officer should be forced to pay "ruinous damages." But under the proposed Constitution, Maryland Farmer feared, federal judges might refuse to award damages to "spare the public purse, if not favour a brother officer."

George Mason, another Anti-Federalist, raised the same concern at the Virginia ratifying convention. Speaking on June 19, 1788, Mason worried that the new federal judiciary could not be trusted "to bring officers to justice." Suppose "any of the federal officers should be guilty of the greatest oppressions, or behave with the most insolent and wanton brutality to a man's wife or daughter," Mason demanded, "where is this man to get relief?"

Federalist John Marshall, the future chief justice of the United States, responded to Mason the next day. Mason "says that the officers of the government will be screened from merited punishment by the federal judiciary," Marshall said. "The federal sheriff, [Mason] says, will go into a poor man's house and beat him, or abuse his family, and the federal court will protect him."

Nonsense, Marshall declared. "Will such great insults on the people of this country be allowable?" he asked. "Were a law made to authorize them, it would be void. The injured man would trust to a [judicial] tribunal in his neighborhood. To such a tribunal he would apply for redress, and get it."

Marshall proved as good as his word while serving as chief justice. In Little v. Barreme (1804), he led the Supreme Court in finding a U.S. naval officer liable for trespass after he seized a ship based on an illegitimate presidential order. "The law must take its course," Marshall wrote, "and he must pay such damages as are legally awarded against him." Likewise, in Wise v. Withers (1806), Marshall found a District of Columbia justice of the peace liable for trespass after the officer entered a man's home without legal authority.

Such rulings against rogue federal officers continued to appear in subsequent decades. "At the Founding, and for much of American history, there was no question as to whether federal courts had the power to provide judge-made damages remedies against individual federal officers," observed University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck in the Cato Supreme Court Review: 2019–2020. "Not only did federal courts routinely provide such relief, but the Supreme Court repeatedly blessed the practice." The Bivens case—in which federal drug cops were held civilly liable for unconstitutional search and seizure—is consistent with this noble legal tradition.


In the last few decades, just as the Supreme Court was whittling away at Bivens, Congress found a way to make matters worse. Under the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act of 1988, any nonfederal "civil action or proceeding for money damages" filed against a federal employee "acting within the scope of his office or employment…is precluded." In other words, that law, also known as the Westfall Act, prohibited plaintiffs from filing state common law suits against federal officers.

Traditionally, rights-violating federal officers were often sued in state court for committing state common law offenses, although a case might be removed to federal court if it raised a federal question. Webster Bivens could have sued the federal drug cops who victimized him in state court for trespass and false imprisonment, an option that the Court acknowledged.

The Westfall Act took that option off the table, leaving the next Webster Bivens with no choice but to file a federal Bivens claim. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has undermined Bivens to such an extent that the ruling is practically a dead letter. Now that a Bivens claim is the only remaining option for plaintiffs seeking to sue rogue federal officers, most of those plaintiffs have been left with no real recourse at all. The courthouse doors—state and federal—are effectively closed against them.

But there are a few ways this problem could be ameliorated.The Supreme Court could put some teeth back into Bivens. The case of José Oliva, the 70-year-old Vietnam vet beaten by V.A. cops, illustrates how it might happen. Recall that the 5th Circuit, taking its marching orders from SCOTUS, dismissed Oliva's lawsuit as a "new context," with that claim hinging on the distinction between officers working security at a V.A. hospital and officers conducting a warrantless search for drugs in an apartment as in Bivens. Why not ditch that hyper-specific test and just say that any lawsuit plausibly alleging Fourth Amendment violations should be allowed to proceed?

Regrettably, the current Supreme Court seems unlikely to take that approach.

Congress could do its part by revising the Westfall Act to once again allow state common law suits against perfidious federal officers. Congress also could codify Bivens-type remedies by passing a statute that specifically allows such suits in federal court.

Whatever the solution, it is long past time for the many victims of rights-violating federal officers to start getting some redress in court.

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  2. Why Is It So Hard To Sue a Bad Cop?

    Because there is no such thing as a bad cop. Ever try suing a legislator for passing an unconstitutional law or a law that creates unintentional but entirely foreseeable consequences? Same thing – the king can do no wrong. L’etat, c’est moi. Once you get your paycheck signed by the government, you’re no longer a mere human but some sort of higher being to whom normal mortal considerations no longer apply. This is why cops always speak in the passive voice – “the officer’s gun was discharged”, “the suspect was struck by the bullet”, “the suspect was later pronounced dead at the scene” – because, see, it’s not them personally performing these actions, it’s the office that is performing the actions and they’re just helpless meat puppets for the office.

    1. In blue cities, there is no such thing as a minority criminal either. They won’t even mention the race of the criminal in any local reporting because the shooters are 80% black, 15% Hispanic (for decades) and that is deemed a state secret. There were 4000 shot, 800 murdered in Chicago last year. 7 were killed, 13 were wounded by cops. You would think that the numbers were the other way around the way it is being reported. I’ll bet those 800 dead bastards wished that they were dealing with a cop and not a fellow denizen of their own ghetto. They would have probably lived, don’t you think? You don’t have to think, I’m showing you the stats.
      I can walk through any police station in the nation with no issues, try walking through the Englewood or Austin neighborhoods and you will be dead in 30 minutes or less. Racism? No, can’t be, those little darlings love everyone.
      If you would like to take the “Jungle Ride” that I took my kids on, I’d be happy to take you on a tour. I hope you like guns, gunfire, crackheads and crime scenes, it is all you will see. Tell me if you see gangs of cops running around shooting innocent black people. I have not seen it happen, but I have heard that it is so common and that we should loot and burn our own cities to stop them. Remember, due to all this “blame the cops” nonsense, only 10% of the murders in Chicago resulted in an arrest and conviction. If you are a murderer, a blue cop hating city is the place to be.
      Throughout last year, the cops were shot at on a near daily basis in Chicago. It was never mentioned in the news. Why was that? It is because they are creating a tale for the internet obsessed, gullible rubes.
      Chicago leaders claim that their main problems are cops and white supremacists. There hasn’t been a single incident involving a white supremacist in years except the Juicy Smooliet, $5 foot long and a noose story. The media Cucks at Reason just parrot the one sided, racially biased nonsense that they are fed. They just gobble that goo and pass it to their readers. Reason just scans through the nation’s bad cop stories and reports the worst they can find. There were multiple mass shootings in Chicago last week, multiple children shot dead. Their leadership is reporting “Crime is Down”. It is a blatant lie and they will get away with it because every retard in Chicago hates cops and ignores murders, just like the cop haters on here.

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    2. Why Is It So Hard To Sue a Bad Cop?

      Because the political class wants to be above the rest of us. Anyone who believes the political class should be held accountable, say for the Russian Hoax, will be treated like Trump. Biden is making sure of that.

      1. Lol. Yeah, Trump is really known for his love of accountability and taking responsibility.

        In any case, we’re going to get to see his love of accounting in detail pretty soon.

    3. Lying is not a comment, Police Union Troll.

      Their Employer isnt the one murdering Citizens in the streets

  3. Why is it so hard to sue a bad cop? Some attorneys are Jewish and they would never eat a pig because a pig is a cop or better yet a terminator like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    1. Trying to play me out like as if my name was Sega. But I ain’t going out like no punk bitch

  4. Was the cop who killed Ashli Babbit a bad cop or a good cop?

    1. Ashli Babbit was 6 months ago and only a few people, all on Reason, give a shit. Nobody else in the nation cares about an over-entitled, Air Force Affirmative Action cunt that was acting foolish. They are treated like princesses in the military for so so long that they think that all men, even one with a gun, are pushovers. Lesson learned, huh? Apparently, the stupid cunt has been around civilian murdering, Air Force half-men for so long that she forgot that real men are much different and won’t take their shit. This dumb cunt thought that storming the capital building would somehow improve our government. Brilliant stuff. The only people that are still trying to keep that issue current are the home bound Tards that live on Reason. Her actions were not heroic, they were stupid. The Democrats will use the actions of the 6th as an excuse for the next three years. The taxpayers will pay for all of it.

      1. Thank you for your screed, but that doesn’t answer the question of whether the cop who killed her was a good cop or a bad cop.

        1. Watch the video and come to your own conclusion.

          1. My conclusion has been that the incident was an extra-judicial killing sanctioned and covered up by the federal government.

            I’m wondering what others think, especially those who shriek bloody murder every time a cop kills somebody, except this time.

            1. It was murder.

              1. No question. Murder.

            2. It had something to do with Trump, so different rules.

              1. Nope. Nearly same thing happened outside Fort Meade when a tranny car thief took a wrong turn and tried to avoid the checkpoint outside of NSA. Try to get through a security checkpoint/barricade and you’ll maybe get killed and no one is going to give a shit.

                1. Yeah, but then I don’t get to play victim.

                  There’s a war on white christians, haven’t you heard?

            3. My opinion is it was on purpose, they had expected this would set the protestors off into a full on burn the capitol down riot but instead they all either stopped to render aid or got the heck out of there. They still went forward with the riot story but if you side by side compare this protest to the protest over Kavanagh they were much more restrained. When you watch the video…and I am betting they did not expect the video to be released, there was no justification for shooting her. There were cops two feet away from her just standing there. No this was an execution with the expectation it would enrage the crowd because that is what would have happened had they been Biden supporters instead of Trump.

            4. Reckless homicide. In that moment, I’m not sure the intent was to kill her, rather than to immobilize or slow her movements.

              If he was white, clearly it was intentional murder. But blacks can’t have complex thoughts, according to AG Merrick Garland in his suit against GA, so this cop just wasn’t smart enough.

      2. Babbitt was certainly foolish and trespassing. But she wasn’t brandishing a weapon or screaming “Kill the Pigs” or anything threatening. Why don’t we all know who fired the shot that killed her? CSI or whatever would be examining the bullet that killed her and comparing it to every cop who was present’s firearm. The authorities know damn well who killed her and need to hold a “justifiable shoot?” hearing. If there was truly an organized conservative movement, there would be daily vigils outside of DOJ offices all around the country until some objective answers are given.

        1. “… or anything threatening“

          Besides crawling through a broken window at the head of a violent mob, with the people they were threatening on the other side of the window.

          1. So threatening that only one cop fired a shot?

            1. The mob was threatening harm to the Vice President, members and staff of Congress, and their guests. Not just the one cop.

              1. That is just the narrative in your lunatic head. GFY with your delusions and hypocracy.

                1. They literally had signs saying as much and several hangmen totems of pence , etc.

                  How fucking dumb do you think everyone else is? Because we are not as dumb as you.

              2. So why not gun them all down?

                1. Lethal force against the mob as soon as they breached the capitol building was the correct response. The fuck up is that they used too little force.

                  1. they showed Queen Nancy she can be deposed from her Temple of Democracy at a moments notice.

                    And the Capital Police will help them!

            2. That is all it took. Our government is not often so economical in handling groups of people that they disagree with. Think, minigun. This “insurgency only took a single 9mm bullet. That is a bargain. It was only going to get more expensive from there on out.

          2. The violence is all in your head there pumpkin. Broken windows are only the beginning at a BLM riot, which you condone, followed by mostly peaceful murders, looting, and buildings on fire.

      3. Amen. Be prepared for traitors screeching.

    2. They are making a movie about her now. Ashli babbit, “Joan of Lark”.

      1. ^ DOL sock

        1. Hi! I am Talcum X. Please feel free to contact Guardians of the Green Beret on the web or Facebook before you start your tired ass “Stolen Valor” accusations. They live to bust out fake green berets. Bring it on. Please contact them and tell them a nasty guy named Talcum X is running his suck and it hurt your feelings. That is the best way to get back at me and that dastardly DOL.
          I will vouch for DOL. All day. That man fought with Special Forces in Afghanistan. Of this, I have no doubt. What have you done for this country other than complain on “Reason”?

        2. You wish, bitch boy.

          Turns out, thinking Americans who have actually sworn an oath to the constitution and risked our lives on it have very little tolerance for treason.

          1. liar,

            Police areun constitutionslal and do mot hold to the Constitution bc they are not legitimate Government.

            False Meme Monday?

  5. As I see it, Congress should have first crack at the issue, defining which courts have authority to hear damages claims against federal officers. I understand that Congress hasn’t done this. I suspect they won’t, for all their posturing about BLM and holding cops to account.

    So assuming Congress doesn’t step up the plate and establish rules for damages actions against federal officers?

    In this vacuum of authority, I’d say that the states should set rules for damages actions against federal agents who misbehave within those states’ boundaries.

    To say that there’s no remedy in either state *or* federal court would be to violate the 9th Amendment, IMHO – what could be a more obvious 9th Amendment right than the right to sue for damages if you’re assaulted, etc?

    Under the rule I propose, if the feds don’t like being sued in state court, they can ask Congress for a law to have them sued in federal court.

    1. The primary job of law enforcement is to protect the government from the people. That includes judges and legislators. Should those government employees cease to protect the cops, then the cops will cease to protect them. Or worse. And nothing else will happen.

      1. False. Po-Lice have no legitimate function. They are A PRIVATE MILITIA FOR THE COURTS and TOTALLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

        The Police Union Trolls sure are thick here.
        . Lots of convenient liars here…

    2. I’m great with officers being sued if they violate someone’s civil rights in a clear and obvious way and outside of specific department policy. However, it should first survive a clearinghouse of some sort first or just like every convict is “innocent”, they and their bottom of the class lawyer will be filing a roll of the dice frivolous lawsuit. Nobody puts that kind of harassment on their own career path.

      I’d say the same thing for government officials including politicians, bureaucrats, and judges. These people operate with impunity, generally with no hit whatsoever to their professional career. Yet government would become unworkable if anyone can sue any government official for anything on simply a hope and a prayer that they can bully them into compliance. The courts are not there to be used as a battering ram for anyone who is inconvenienced or as a tool of vengeance.

  6. Government is the way we outsource fucking with people. Any official with enforcement duties was hired to perform said fucking. Thus both by nature and by custom, the expected fucking is from official to citizen. Trying to reverse that is going to contradict everything from the basic premise to the routine process.

  7. If you think the courts protect the people from the government, then you haven’t been paying attention. Prosecutors, judges, cops, prison staff, public pretenders… they all work to protect each other. So unless you’ve got shitloads of money for attorneys combined with sympathetic publicity, you will always get fucked by the system. And even then it’s a crapshoot.

  8. Why Is It So Hard To Sue a Bad Cop? Because the alternative is to make it too easy to sue a good cop. It is easy to look back at an incident and believe (or know) that the cop involved was clearly in violation of the law and his oath. If there is some magic way to separate those cases out, I’m all for it.
    But once you make it easier to sue cops, every ambulance chasing lawyer in town will rally to sue cops for every traffic stop of a Black, female, or Hispanic driver for civil rights violations.
    If we make it easier to sue bad cops, there has to be some disincentive to frivolously sue good cops.

    1. Anyone who has had to sit for days in the back of a civil court and document the happenings knows this to be true. One way to accomplish this I think might be to hold all plaintiff attorneys personally responsible for bringing frivolous lawsuits to court. If you tell an attorney [or pro se defendant] that a frivolous lawsuit will cost them personally $1000 and 30 days on a road maintenance crew, we’d be laying off judges and shuttering courtrooms for lack of business. Attorney’s know if their case is bullshit, or at least they should before they go to court. Tell criminals that they can bring up that defense at trial, and if they walk on that basis, they can take it to civil court.

      1. Not sure it would be necessary to punish attorneys, if tort reform ever included government employees.

        Reducing the financial incentive would clear frivolous lawsuits out of the civil courts.

    2. Lies.

      Poli e are not only un Constitutional but UN LAWFUL.

      No legal code creates or authorizes police so thetes no law to deal with them. So they run away and hide behind a judges skirt

  9. The real answer is because it would be then easy to sue non-bad goods.

    We’ve already seen how the police pretty much treat Antifa with kid gloves, letting them beat people then arrest whoever tries to defend themselves.

    Partly because it’s the police are run by leftists, but also because Antifa doxes and harasses police. If they could also sue, then you’d see lots of nuisance lawsuits

    1. The real answer is because it would be then easy to sue non-bad goods.

      That’s just bullshit that cops say to shield themselves from accountability. Then when they do face consequences they all protect each other, and make a point of not responding to violent crimes (as if they do anyway, they only care about busting people for drugs so they can steal everything they own).

      The only people cops serve are politicians, and the only people they protect are each other.

  10. Quick question. Everyday i click on reason magazine. Everyday the lead article or somewhere near the lead is a negative article about cops. Am i missing something? Aren’t there other important issues? Even arguably more important issues? What’s with the hardon for bashing cops. How about an article about the thousands of police interactions with the public every day that are positive And helpful. Just a thought.

    1. I’ve never had a positive interaction with the police. Even asking them for directions resulted in them detaining me and running me for warrants. There is no such thing as a good cop. Period.

      1. Most of my interactions have been bad. But there have been some good interactions. The problem is that even the good cops protect the bad ones.

        1. Shit, when my apartment was burglarized, broken window and all, the cops that showed up literally said “We don’t care about the burglary, but if you invite us in we’ll be happy to look for an excuse to arrest you.”

          As far as good cops protecting bad cops, that assumes that good cops are the majority. They aren’t. They’re a very small minority of rookies. Good cops quit, get forced out, get fired and blackballed for ratting out bad cops, or turn into bad cops.

    2. Reason has a long history of covering policing and justice abuses, dating at least as far back as the days when Radley Balko worked at Reason. Balko may well have been the best journalist to ever work at Reason.

      And they have stepped up coverage of policing abuse since the protests last year, presumably because they consider it a “hot topic” with a lot of current public interest.

      1. It’s also one of the reasons right-wingers consider libertarians and Reason to be leftist. Good right-wingers are all about law and order, the thin blue line, blue lives matter, respect authority, worship first responders, and all that. Especially because it’s the left that’s calling for police reform, which by itself means a good right-winger must oppose any and all police reform on principle.

  11. This columnist: citizens should be able to sue for compensation for bad acts. The imaginary “families” of all the dead popular blacks recieved huge jackpots. Consider the “family” of LaQuan MacDonald, He was in the care of the state frequently. Probably a crack baby. In trouble with schools, care facilities and law enforcement constantly. The people who made him and made a mess of him got 5 million dollars. They don’t care about suing the cop who shot Laquan. They destroyed that cop, too. He’s doing 20 years in prison.

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  13. Thats why black folk have had to resort to violence and arson.

    The Un Constitutional Police State is murderous and out of control. Its no longer Mayberry and your friend in blue. Its a violent terrorist hunting machine and if there arent any terrorists to shoit at, a couple black folk will do.

    Laws dont work. Due process doesnt work.

    We had to fight a bloody Revolutionary War to rid ourselves of the Kings soldiers and corporations.

    George Washington wrote about the police murdering people in the streets- read the US Constitution documents.

  14. Because laws are made in a way that benefits those who break them more than those who actually obey them, hard fact of every country

  15. Alternate headline: Why does every try to sue cops under USC Section 1983 when there are also state tort remedies available.

    1. *everyone

  16. This is like when Randy Weaver’s wife was killed by the FBI. The shooter was charged in state court, but the Feds yanked the case to the Federal level and then dismissed it.

  17. It’s hard to sue bad cops, because so many people have sued GOOD cops that protections had to be put in place. Those protect bad cops as well as good.

    1. “The whole good cop/bad cop question can be disposed of much more decisively. We need not enumerate what proportion of cops appears to be good or listen to someone’s anecdote about his Uncle Charlie, an allegedly good cop. We need only consider the following: (1) a cop’s job is to enforce the laws, all of them; (2) many of the laws are manifestly unjust, and some are even cruel and wicked; (3) therefore every cop has agreed to act as an enforcer for laws that are manifestly unjust or even cruel and wicked. There are no good cops.” ~Robert Higgs

  18. Why Is It So Hard To Sue a Bad Cop?
    When all participants of a “system” are feeding from the same nose-bag, free from competition — and are allowed (by your neighbors and friends — hopefully not you) to
    • Make the laws,
    • Enforce the laws,
    • Prosecute the laws,
    • Hire the prosecutors,
    • License the “defense” attorneys,
    • Pay the “judges”,
    • Build the jails,
    • Contract jails out to private entities,
    • Employ and pay the wardens,
    • Employ and pay the guards,
    • Employ and pay the parole officers,
    One can’t honestly call it a “justice” system. It’s a system of abject tyranny.

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