Harris v. Pittman

Fayetteville, N.C. officer chases suspect into wooded ravine; a struggle ensues. The suspect gets the officer’s gun and pulls the trigger in the officer’s face, but the gun doesn’t fire. The officer regains the gun and shoots the suspect. And then the stories diverge. The officer shoots the suspect several more times—either while the suspect is standing over the officer (as the officer claims) or after the suspect is “lifted off his feet” and “thrown to the ground” by the first gunshot (as the suspect claims). Fourth Circuit (over a dissent): On summary judgment, we have to believe the suspect. No qualified immunity for an officer shooting an injured suspect already on the ground. [STEM for lawyers note: Contra Michael Bay, basic physics prevents a bullet from lifting anyone into the air.]

Tags: 2019, Firearms, Fourth Circuit, Qualified Immunity

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