The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the City of San Francisco’s appeal of a case in which “a mentally ill, knife-wielding” woman was allowed to sue police for shooting her instead of waiting for back-up and trying to calm her, reports SF Gate. The case “could set standards for police treatment of the disabled.” And in a separate case, a police officer in Monterey, California was fired for trying to calm a distraught student down instead of using a stun gun on him.
In the upcoming Supreme Court case, “The central issue is how the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires government agencies to make reasonable accommodations for the disabled, applies to police conduct toward a mentally ill person who may be violent,” reports SF Gate.
“Police officers deserve clarity concerning their obligations under federal law, and public safety demands it,” the City Attorney representing the police officers told SF Gate. “We hope the high court reverses the Ninth Circuit’s mistaken decision [in favor of the woman] and restores reasonableness to this area of the law.”
But a lawyer for the woman “said the law must draw distinctions between a mentally ill person who poses a threat to the public — like ‘a person running down the street with a knife’ — and someone confronted by officers while alone in her room, with backup police on their way.”
The Washington Post‘s The Watch blog discusses and provides links to coverage of the Monterey case. “Here at The Watch, we’ve looked extensively at how difficult it can be to fire cops who use excessive force, even when independent bodies have found that they’ve done so on multiple occasions. So what can get a cop fired? In the case of one campus police officer in California, it was his decision to not use force on a possibly suicidal student.”
Supreme Court Takes Case Involving Police Use of Force and the Mentally Ill (Rocky Mountain INews, December 8, 2014)
High court to hear S.F. appeal of ruling in police-shooting suit (SF Gate, November 25, 2014)
Police officer fired for not using force (The Washington Post – The Watch, December 12, 2014)