Supreme Court Injustice: Killer-Cops Protected In Qualified Immunity Ruling

Court on Monday signaled that it is not retreating from its inclination to grant a legal protection called "qualified immunity"
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Photo: Roland Martin\Youtube

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday signaled that it is not retreating from its inclination to grant a legal protection called "qualified immunity" to police accused in lawsuits of using excessive force, ruling in favor of officers on Monday in separate cases from California and Oklahoma.

The justices overturned a lower court's decision allowing a trial in a lawsuit against officers Josh Girdner and Brandon Vick over the 2016 fatal shooting of a hammer-wielding man in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

They also overturned a lower court's decision to deny a request by police officer Daniel Rivas-Villegas for qualified immunity in a lawsuit accusing him of using excessive force in 2016 while handcuffing a suspect in Union City, California.

The brief rulings were unsigned, with no public dissents among the justices in the cases, both decided without oral arguments.

The qualified immunity defense protects police and other government officials from civil litigation in certain circumstances, permitting lawsuits only when an individual's "clearly established" statutory or constitutional rights have been violated.

The rulings indicated that the justices think lower courts still are denying qualified immunity too frequently in police excessive force cases, having previously chided appeals courts on that issue in recent years.

"These are not the actions of a court that is likely to end or seriously reform qualified immunity," Chris Kemmitt, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund civil rights group, wrote on Twitter.

A 2020 Reuters investigation revealed how qualified immunity, with the Supreme Court's continual refinements, has made it easier for police officers to kill or injure civilians with impunity.

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