Rivas-Villegas v. Cortesluna (2021) 142 S.Ct. 4 (per curiam)

GMSR convinced the Court to direct entry of judgment in favor of a Union City police officer based on qualified immunity.  The officer had been summoned by a terrified 911 caller barricaded in a room reporting someone using a chainsaw to break down the door. On arrival the officer encountered an armed, non-compliant suspect.  A video showed the officer applied a knee restraint with minimal force to secure the still-armed suspect during handcuffing.

The Court held that the Ninth Circuit erred when it found that existing precedent put the officer on notice that placing his knee on an armed defendant’s back for eight seconds in the course of handcuffing could constitute excessive force.  The Supreme Court agreed that prior precedent—involving a noise complaint, a suspect armed with nothing more than a ham sandwich, and the violent use of a knee restraint—was too dissimilar to put GMSR’s client on notice that his specific conduct could be deemed unlawful.

Case Briefs