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Thread: Appeals Court: No Immunity For Shooting A Man Who Had His Hands Up And

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    Appeals Court: No Immunity For Shooting A Man Who Had His Hands Up And

    Appeals Court: No Immunity For Shooting A Man Who Had His Hands Up And Twice Said He Surrendered

    From the muh-safety dept

    By the time some qualified immunity cases hit the appellate level, there's an air of "why are we even discussing this" about them. But if there's even a 1% chance the next level of review might overturn a lower court ruling, the cases will addressed, no matter how obvious their conclusions.

    This is one of those cases. In this one, it's a police officer needing to hear one more time that the $#@! they pulled just isn't legal. It started with a parking ticket and ended with the ticketee being shot by a police officer. In between, there was a misunderstanding and an altercation. And, after this review, the odds are even lower that the officer is going to be able to talk a judge or jury into excusing his actions. Here's the backstory:

    Craig Strand, a truck driver, needed to take a mandatory drug screening. Since he was unable to fit his truck in the testing facility's parking lot, he obtained permission to park it at a nearby Planned Parenthood office. Officer Curtis Minchuk, who was providing security for Planned Parenthood while in uniform and with the blessing of his department, saw Strand's truck and left two parking tickets on its windshield.

    Strand returned to his truck and saw the tickets. He returned to the Planned Parenthood office to inquire about them and was directed to meet Officer Minchuk in the parking lot. Strand explained he had received permission to park there. This is where things went downhill for Strand, his rights, and his as-of-yet unwounded body.

    From the decision [PDF]:

    Minchuk had no interest in discussing the tickets beyond, as the district court observed, allegedly soliciting a bribe from Strand.

    Let's pause there for effect. Officer Minchuk didn't want to be right. He wanted to be paid. Any explanation Strand offered would have been ignored. Strand realized this and made preparations to leave, but not before gathering a little exculpatory evidence.

    After Strand declined to pay, Minchuk drove to the back of the Planned Parenthood facility. Strand started his rig, but before driving away used his cell phone to take pictures of the parking lot, thinking he might need them to show the absence of no‐parking signs to contest the tickets.

    In response to this non-threatening (at least to Minchuk's life, but perhaps not his livelihood), the officer decided to thug out.

    Observing from a distance, Officer Minchuk returned to the truck and ordered Strand to leave immediately. Strand said he would leave as soon as he finished taking pictures. Minchuk responded by saying he was calling a tow truck and telling Strand he had two minutes to leave.

    The situation then escalated. Stepping toward Strand, Officer Minchuk admonished, “I told you to get the f*** outta here,” and slapped Strand’s cell phone to the ground. Minchuk then demanded Strand’s identification; Strand refused and countered by demanding Minchuk’s badge number. Minchuk replied, “I said, give me your I.D.” and grabbed Strand by his shirt and neck, resulting in Strand’s shirt tearing off his body. Minchuk attempted to push and tackle Strand to the ground, with Strand resisting by holding on to Minchuk’s arm.

    According to Officer Minchuk, Strand got the upper hand. The officer was punched three times before being grabbed by the throat. Minchuk claimed he feared for his life and that, if he passed out, Strand would take his gun and shoot him.

    But that's not what happened. Strand decided to disengage and de-escalate.

    The fist fight ceased when Strand stood up, backed four to six feet away from Officer Minchuk, put his hands up, and said, “I surrender. Do whatever you think you need to do. I surrender, I’m done.”

    Of all the possible ways Officer Minchuk could have reacted to Strand's capitulation, he chose the worst:

    While still on the ground, Minchuk responded by removing his gun from its holster and firing a shot at Strand, striking him in the abdomen.

    The lower court denied Minchuk qualified immunity. It pointed to unresolved facts that prevented it from dismissing the case at this point. Minchuk stuck to his "feared for my safety" guns to explain his use of his actual gun, but the record shows only 21 seconds passed between Minchuk calling for backup and the 911 call reporting the shooting, which was placed by a Planned Parenthood employee. This strongly suggests Minchuk performed no reassessment of the situation after Strand stood up, walked away, put his hands up, and (twice) said he surrendered.

    The appeals court won't be extending qualified immunity to Officer Minchuk either. It makes several good points, the first of which deals with Strand's apparent surrender. If officers are justified in shooting surrendering suspects, this leaves arrestees zero options to avoid being shot. That's an obviously ridiculous outcome.

    Officer Minchuk resorted to the use of deadly force at a time when Strand had stopped fighting, separated from Minchuk, stood up, stepped four to six feet away from Minchuk, and, with his hands in the air, said, “I surrender. Do whatever you think you need to do. I surrender, I’m done.” The record shows that Strand was unarmed at all points in time. Furthermore, upon standing, raising his hands, and voicing his surrender, Strand never stepped toward Minchuk, made a threatening statement, or otherwise did anything to suggest he may resume fighting or reach for a weapon.

    "The Patriarch"

    willie with tan lines: enjoy the shots and the woman
    Quote Originally Posted by Schifference View Post
    The man did not think clearly. It was almost as if he had brain cancer of something.

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    A true Hero in blue.

    "Government ... does not exist of necessity, but rather by virtue of a tragic, almost comical combination of klutzy, opportunistic terrorism against sitting ducks whom it pretends to shelter, plus our childish phobia of responsibility, praying to be exempted from the hard reality of life on life's terms." Wolf DeVoon

    "...Make America Great Again. I'm interested in making American FREE again. Then the greatness will come automatically."Ron Paul

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