HAUGH V. CITY OF LOUISVILLE
TORTS: Use of force by police officer; qualified immunity
PANEL: LAMBERT PRESIDING; TAYLOR, KNOPF CONCUR
DATE RENDERED: 12/07/2007
CA affirms TC entry of SJ for appellants in this wrongful-death due to excessive police force case.
City police officers went to decedent’s residence to arrest him on felony and misdemeanor bench warrants. He refused to comply with officers and armed himself within his home with a butcher knife. Eventually, the SWAT team captain decided not to wait the decedent out, and ordered the swat team in. Decedent mightily resisted several means of force including tear gas, bean-bag rounds and police fire. Decedent stabbed a police dog. He was eventually subdued, but died several days later from his injuries. Later it was learned that the decedent suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
The estate sued alleging excessive or unnecessary force. CA affirms that the officers’ decision to storm decedent’s residence and to use nonlethal force to quickly subdue him is entitled to qualified immunity. The decision was objectively reasonable. Also, mental illness does not exempt a person from the use of reasonable force by the police. Finally, uncontroverted evidence indicates that decedent himself was solely responsible for his demise.