Phillip Suderman · May 28, 2024


CONTACT: Phillip Suderman, [email protected], (850) 376-4110

ARLINGTON, Va.—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court turned away a petition for certiorari filed by the Institute for Justice (IJ) on behalf of Casondra “Cassi” Pollreis, an Arkansas mother who sued a police officer after he unlawfully held her children at gunpoint and threatened her with his Taser.  

“This is a disappointing result, and we’re frustrated for Cassi and her family,” said IJ Attorney Keith Neely. “Cassi deserved better, and we hope that this is an issue that the Court will revisit in the future the next time a government official decides to violate someone’s rights.”

Cassi’s case started off on a night like so many others, with her two boys walking home from their grandparents’ house, just a few blocks away. On this night, however, Officer Lamont Marzolf stopped his car in front of them and emerged with his gun drawn. Within moments, the officer started shouting “get on the ground” and proceeded to handcuff the boys and hold them at gunpoint.

When Cassi noticed the commotion from her home, she stepped outside to help defuse the situation. Although she was concerned for the safety of her children, as any mother would, she calmly collected herself and tried to reason with the officer, explaining, “They are my boys . . . Are you serious? They are 12 and 14 years old.”

He replied: “And I’m looking for two kids about this age right now.” But he wasn’t; he was looking for three grown men and a woman who’d fled from police earlier in the evening. The boys and Cassi were completely innocent, but that didn’t stop him. “Get back!” he shouted as he drew his Taser on her. “I want you to get back in your house,” he demanded. Cassi complied, not wanting to make the situation worse. 

Eventually, a police sergeant arrived at the scene and figured out that Cassi and her children weren’t the people they were looking for. Her boys were released.

Cassi decided to hold the government accountable and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer for holding her children and gunpoint and for threatening her with his Taser.

The district court, citing qualified immunity, dismissed most of Cassi’s claims. Although it allowed her claim on behalf of her sons to proceed, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, and the Supreme Court denied certiorari in 2022. When, last year, the Eighth Circuit separately affirmed the dismissal of her remaining claim, she filed another petition for certiorari with the Court. With the denial of her petition this morning, the courts have denied Cassi the justice she deserved.

“While the end result wasn’t what I was hoping for, the fight was still worth it,” said Cassi. “Even though we didn’t get the decision we wanted, I hope that others will continue to stand up for what’s right.”

Cassi’s case has been part of the Institute for Justice’s Project on Immunity and Accountability. The project seeks to fight on behalf of those individuals who are denied their rights in court and hold government officials accountable for their unconstitutional actions.

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 To arrange interviews on this subject, journalists may contact Phillip Suderman, IJ’s Communications Project Manager at [email protected] or (850) 376-4110. More information on the case is available at: