June 30, 2020

A police officer forfeited his qualified immunity by using excessive force against an individual who posed no threat to the officer or to others

A complaint brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleged that a number of New York City police officers [Defendants] used excessive force against Plaintiff in the course of his being arrested. The jury found that only one officer, Officer A, used excessive force against the Plaintiff when Officer A used "two taser cycles" against him.*

The federal district court granted Officer A's motion claiming qualified immunity** and dismissed Plaintiff's complaint "as a matter of law." Plaintiff appealed the ruling to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

The Circuit Court reversed the lower court's decision, explaining that the evidence before the jury allowed it to reasonably conclude that Plaintiff was no longer resisting arrest and was not a safety threat to the officers, or others, at the time of Officer A used the taser against him a second time.

Citing Garcia v. Dutchess County, 43 F. Supp. 3d 281, in which the federal district court in that action concluded that “[i]t was . . . clearly established law in the Second Circuit as of April 2000 that it was a Fourth Amendment violation to use ‘significant’ force against arrestees who no longer actively resisted arrest or posed a threat to officer safety," the Circuit Court vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded the matter "for proceedings consistent with this opinion."

* The jury found that the other officers present during Plaintiff's arrest were not liable. 

** Jones v Muniz, posted on the Internet at https://casetext.com/case/jones-v-muniz

The Second Circuit Court's decision is posted on the Internet at:

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