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Sat May 1, 2021, 10:42 AM

This case highlights the absurdity of qualified immunity - SC decision on shooting of Amy Hughes

Ali Velshi talked about this case on his show this morning:

The case started in 2010 when three police officers responded to a 911 call reporting that a woman had been seen acting erratically by hacking at a tree with a knife.

They saw Sharon Chadwick standing in the driveway of a house. A second woman, Amy Hughes, emerged from the house, holding a kitchen knife. She stopped six feet from Ms. Chadwick.
Although the officers did not know it, the two women were roommates. Ms. Hughes was not moving, spoke calmly, held the knife at her side and made no aggressive movements.

Ms. Chadwick later said that she did not feel threatened and that Ms. Hughes had appeared composed.
The officers drew their guns and told Ms. Hughes to drop the knife, but it is not clear that she heard them. Officer Andrew Kisela opened fire, shooting Ms. Hughes four times.
Screaming and bleeding, Ms. Hughes asked, “Why’d you shoot me?”
She survived and sued the officer for using excessive force.


The Supreme Court Gives Police a Green Light to ‘Shoot First and Think Later’

The Supreme Court just ruled that a police officer could not be sued for gunning down Amy Hughes. This has vast implications for law enforcement accountability. The details of the case are as damning as the decision. Hughes was not suspected of a crime. She was simply standing still, holding a kitchen knife at her side. The officer gave no warning that he was going to shoot her if she did not comply with his commands. Moments later, the officer shot her four times.

As Sotomayor argued in dissent, the court’s decision in Kisela v. Hughes means that such “palpably unreason­able conduct will go unpunished.” According to seven of the nine Justices, Hughes’ Fourth Amendment right to not be shot four times in this situation is less protected than the officer’s interest in escaping accountability for his brazen abuse of authority. According to Justice Sotomayor, “If this account of [the officer’s] conduct sounds unreasonable, that is because it was. And yet, the Court ... insulates that conduct from liability under the doctrine of qualified immunity.”
In 1982 it meant that “a reasonable person would have known” an action was unlawful. Fast forward to 2010 and “clearly established” meant that “every ‘reasonable official would have understood that what he is doing violates that right.’” The difference between “a” and “every” may seem technical, but, as Dean Chemerinsky and the late Judge Stephen Reinhardt explained, this change marks the difference between a measured fair notice standard under which it was possible to hold law enforcement accountable and what we have now: a system that “protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.”

Qualified immunity has become a misnomer. It should be called what it is, as Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg did in their dissent from last week’s opinion. It is an “absolute shield.”

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Reply This case highlights the absurdity of qualified immunity - SC decision on shooting of Amy Hughes (Original post)
tulipsandroses Saturday OP
tulipsandroses Saturday #1

Response to tulipsandroses (Original post)

Sat May 1, 2021, 10:46 AM

1. To add more context to this case

Ms. Chadwick said that Ms. Hughes had a history of mental illness. She said she was used to her occasional erratic and what she called sometimes inappropriate behavior. However, at no time did she ever feel threatened or in danger of Ms. Hughes. She said she was always able to talk her down. It appears when police arrived, that is exactly what she was doing. She said on that day, Ms. Hughes was upset about a debt she thought was owed to her and threatened to use the knife on the dog. Ms. Chadwick had gone to her car to get $20 to give to Ms. Hughes as the police were arriving.

The other 2 police officers said they wanted to keep talking to Ms. Hughes. So obviously they did not see the situation the same way the cop that shot her did.

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