Winzer v. Kaufman County

Fact disputes and qualified immunity doctrine fuse into a headspinning medley in this case out of Kaufman County, Tex. Police respond to reports that a black man in a brown shirt is brandishing a pistol in public. The man fires at officers, then disappears. Minutes later, a black man wearing a blue jacket enters the road, over 100 yards away from officers. Claiming he’s brandishing a pistol, officers shoot him four times, then tase him. He dies. Turns out he had a toy gun on him, not a real gun. And his dad, a witness, says he wasn’t brandishing anything. Parents sue. Fifth Circuit: Parents’ version of the facts supports a Fourth Amendment violation, but police officer is entitled to qualified immunity. Kaufman County, however, doesn’t get immunity, so the parents can proceed against it. Dissent: “In that split second, [the officer] was justified in concluding that the individual riding at them while their guns were drawn was the armed suspect.”

Tags: 2019, Fifth Circuit, Firearms, Fourth Amendment, Police, Qualified Immunity

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