Not Clearly Established A Jailer Can't Spray A Prisoner In The Eyes With Pepper Spray For No Reason, Says Fifth Circuit

from the this-is-pretty-clearly-some-bullshit dept

A recent decision [PDF] by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals once again highlights the utter absurdity of qualified immunity. To qualify for immunity, all a law enforcement officer needs to do is show they violated someone's rights in a new way -- one not previously considered by the court. Since there's no on-point precedent, it was not "clearly established" that this violation of rights was actually a violation of rights the officer should have been aware of, so the officer walks away from the lawsuit unscathed.

"On-point" means this exact thing happened before. If a cop shoots an unarmed person who happened to walk by a window rather than through a door, and it's only been established that shooting an unarmed person walking through a door is a Constitutional violation, the window shooting is good to go and qualified immunity is handed to the officer. Even when it should be apparently clear shooting an unarmed person through a window would violate their right to be free of bullets when walking past their own windows while inside their own home, it somehow isn't clear to cops. Nor is it to the courts, that only consider established precedent when deciding whether or not an officer's actions were "reasonable" in this situation.

This case involves the actions of a corrections officer. Prince McCoy was sprayed in the face with pepper spray by a guard referred to in the lawsuit only as "Mr. Alamu."

Here's McCoy's side of the story:

On that day in 2016, Alamu came by McCoy’s cell block. As Alamu approached the cell of Marquieth Jackson, one of McCoy’s neighboring inmates, Jackson threw some water on Alamu. Alamu radioed a sergeant, “who dealt with the matter.” About an hour and a half later, Alamu returned to conduct a roster count. Again, Jackson doused Alamu with water. Angered, Alamu grabbed his chemical spray and yelled “where you at?” repeatedly at Jackson. McCoy’s fellow inmates screamed “you can’t spray him!” But because Jackson had blocked the front of his cell with sheets, Alamu couldn’t do anything. Two minutes passed. Alamu re-holstered the spray and walked toward McCoy’s cell, asking for McCoy’s name and prisoner number. As McCoy approached the front of the cell to inform him, Alamu “sprayed [McCoy] directly in the face with his [chemical] spray for no reason at all.”

And here's Mr. Alamu's:

He states that after being “chunked with an unknown liquid” by Jackson, he “immediately . . . ran away from the cell for cover.” As he approached McCoy’s cell, he “went blank” after McCoy threw “an unknown weapon” at him, striking him in the face. Feeling that his “life was in danger,” “the next thing that crossed [his] mind was to use” the spray. He characterized his panicked reaction as an “involuntary action.” Documents in the record suggested that the “weapon” was a “piece of rolled toilet paper.” McCoy denies throwing anything.

It's refreshing to know correctional officers feel it's acceptable to "go blank" when (allegedly) being hit in the face with a "piece of rolled toilet paper." "Going blank" is great -- especially when tied to "life in danger" -- because it can be used to justify every bit of excessive force that happens after that. This doesn't work for civilians. Assaulting someone after "going blank" and supposedly acting in self-defense tends not to sway juries when the end result is an unarmed, assaulted victim.

The prison's Use of Force report determined Alamu's pepper spraying of McCoy was unnecessary and inconsistent with policy. Alamu was placed on three month's probation. The Fifth Circuit is far more sympathetic to Alamu's use of unnecessary force. It does find Alamu violated McCoy's rights by spraying him with pepper spray because a different prisoner had thrown water on Alamu.

Alamu has two main responses, but neither saves him. First, he contends that he reasonably perceived a threat because McCoy threw a wad of toilet paper at him. But even if that factual contention might persuade a jury, it does not justify summary judgment. McCoy denies throwing anything at Alamu and supports his denial with competent evidence. Relatedly, Alamu suggests that the spray was justified because the undisputed facts showed that Jackson had twice thrown liquids on Alamu. But the conclusion doesn’t follow: Alamu sprayed McCoy, not Jackson. McCoy should not bear the iniquities of his fellow inmate.

Second, Alamu appears to contend that McCoy cannot show a violation because his injuries were de minimis. But unfortunately for Alamu, the Supreme Court has rejected that line of reasoning. “Injury and force . . . are only imperfectly correlated, and it is the latter that ultimately counts.” Wilkins, 559 U.S. at 38. Accordingly, because a reasonable jury could conclude that Alamu’s use of force was excessive, McCoy meets his burden at the first QI prong.

But that's the end of the good news. Although McCoy cited previous cases pretty much on point dealing with the assault of prisoners who posed no threat to officers, the court decides those cases just aren't "on point" enough.

Above, we held that the spraying crossed that line. But it was not beyond debate that it did, so the law wasn’t clearly established. This was an isolated, single use of pepper spray. McCoy doesn’t challenge the evidence that Alamu initiated the Incident Command System immediately after the spray, nor that medical personnel promptly attended to him and provided copious amounts of water. Nor does he provide evidence to contest the Use of Force Report’s finding that Alamu used less than the full can of spray… [O]n these facts, it wasn’t beyond debate that Alamu’s single use of spray stepped over the de minimis line. For that reason, the law wasn’t clearly established.

The dissent asks the questions that need to be asked -- the ones that aren't addressed by the majority. Why is it still OK to pepper spray someone when it's been clearly established assaulting a prisoner in the same position with fists, batons, or Tasers isn't? As the dissent points out, pepper spray is arguably more dangerous than anything else on this list.

Although the majority purports to recognize that the instrument of force does not matter in a “no provocation” case, its grant of immunity ultimately turns on the fact that the guard used pepper spray instead of a fist, taser, or baton. It relies on the absence of law clearly establishing that wantonly spraying a prisoner with a chemical agent involves more than a de minimis use of force. The same could have been said in Newman about tasing. Unexplained in the majority opinion is why tasing is a more serious use of force than pepper spraying. The use of pepper spray is no small thing. The chemical agent, which temporarily blinds its recipients, is—unlike tasers—banned for use in war.

As for the majority's inability to find a case on point to deny QI, the dissent says its willingness to abandon common sense in favor of precedent does not reflect well on it.

The majority neglects that the gratuitous tasing in Newman was deemed an “obvious” case of excessive force, 703 F.3d at 764, a label that also fits the pepper spraying of McCoy “for no reason.” Qualified immunity is often a game of find-that-case, but not always. Common sense still plays a role; when the violation of constitutional rights is “obvious,” there is no immunity. [...] That knowledge of illegality necessarily exists when an officer commits an obvious constitutional violation. That’s what obvious means.

Our rights are supposed to protect us from our government. But somehow, these rights are only vaguely established when they're violated by government employees. Years of jurisprudence hasn't brought us any closer to a "reasonable" ideal that actually reflects reasonable thought, much less common sense. The only thing "clearly established" is that law enforcement officers can violate rights with almost no fear of reprisal.

Filed Under: 5th circuit, clearly established, police, prince mccoy, qualified immunity


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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 6:25pm

    Nobody said it was bad

    It appears that it is not clearly established that a significant number of judges and justices have any notion of the difference between right and wrong. It makes one wonder whether they could pass a reasonable person test.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 9:29pm

      If only it was ignorance, that can be fixed...

      Sure they do, and in fact it's really easy:

      If the person who did X is a cop or is otherwise in a position of authority, and there is potential question as to whether X is good or bad, X is not bad.

      If the person who did X is not in the above categories X may or may not be bad. If they did X against one of the above categories however it is absolutely bad.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 7:31am

      Re: Nobody said it was bad

      It must be hell being married to a judge.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Feb 2020 @ 2:44pm

      Re: Nobody said it was bad

      But it's not just a matter of whether it's bad. If I pepper sprayed a random person, that person could sue me, but they probably couldn't sue me in federal court for violating their constitutional rights.

      You can argue that the judges got this wrong, and I may even agree with you, but to get there you have to go a little deeper than "pepper spraying someone for no reason is wrong". You can also argue that qualified immunity is stupid, and I may even agree with you, but these judges don't have the authority to override the Supreme Court on that matter.

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      • icon
        bhull242 (profile), 26 Feb 2020 @ 3:39pm

        Re: Re: Nobody said it was bad

        If the person doing it is a government official, the Constitution tends to be implicated. Otherwise, the Constitution doesn’t have to many rights of a private citizen that could be violated by another private citizen outside of taking legal action. It is a violation of constitutional rights to use excessive force, and pepper spraying someone for no reason at all is clearly excessive force (after all, the amount of force necessary was 0—there was absolutely no reason whatsoever to use any amount of force at all against this specific person in this specific situation), so there’s your violation of constitutional rights there.

        (And as a reminder, it is well established that excessive force is usually a violation of someone’s constitutional rights, so as long as the fact that the force used was excessive was either clearly established as a matter of law or was sufficiently obvious, QI shouldn’t apply. And again, the fact that pepper spraying someone in their cell doing nothing wrong for absolutely no justifiable reason is using excessive force is really quite obvious, or should be. Therefore, based upon clearly established constitutional law and common sense, this jailer obviously violated this guy’s constitutional rights assuming the allegations are true, which we must when dealing with an assertion of QI.)

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  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 8:49pm

    To the best of my knowledge

    no one has ever pepper sprayed a judge sitting on the bench in a court room before, therefore I cannot reasonably know that doing so would be illegal.

    Doesn't that mean I lack mens rea if I go pepper spray a member of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in open court?

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 9:25pm

      Re: To the best of my knowledge

      Was thinking basically that exact thing. If the judges think that getting pepper-sprayed in the face isn't that big of a deal then every last damn one of them that voted in favor deserves to have that happen, because like you said it hasn't been explicitly noted that doing so is bad, so what could they possibly have to complain about?

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 1:33am

        Re: Re: To the best of my knowledge

        ... The difference of course being that while my comment was angry venting and I wouldn't actually condone hosing someone down with pepper-spray on a whim the same apparently cannot be said for the majority of judges in the fifth circuit court of appeals, who would seem to see nothing worth punishing for that very thing(so long as the one doing it is in a position of authority anyway).

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        • icon
          Bergman (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 12:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: To the best of my knowledge

          So use water from a super soaker, so there is no physical harm (unless one of them is the Wicked Witch of the West), then point out that by their logic it would be just as legal to use pepper spray.

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    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 6:03am

      Re: To the best of my knowledge

      "Doesn't that mean I lack mens rea if I go pepper spray a member of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in open court?"

      If you are an officer of the law and therefore under "qualified immunity"? Sure.

      In fact, go for it. Once a judge has to actually make a ruling that unprovokedly macing a judge is sanctionable it may open a few eyes to how the law on qualified immunity is borked.

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      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 12:21pm

        Re: Re: To the best of my knowledge

        But by the logic the court is applying, that until a judge rules a law is in effect it cannot be known to be in effect, it would not actually be illegal, since breaking the law requires both mens rea and actus rea, and until a judge makes a ruling there is no mens rea and actus rea cannot be known.

        Since ex post facto laws are known to be illegal, the first person to pepper spray a judge like that should get away with it.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 1:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: To the best of my knowledge

          The above comment is exactly why America is really starting to SUCK!

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        • identicon
          Bobob, 25 Feb 2020 @ 2:57pm

          Re: Re: Re: To the best of my knowledge

          Say, that is good news. Now if I want to avoid an assault with a deadly weapon charge, I'll just use something that is like a knife only different and refer the court to your post that explains why I could not have known I was using a deadly weapon.

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          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Feb 2020 @ 1:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: To the best of my knowledge

            "Say, that is good news. Now if I want to avoid an assault with a deadly weapon charge, I'll just use something that is like a knife only different and refer the court to your post that explains why I could not have known I was using a deadly weapon."

            No, if you don't have a badge that still means assault.

            Qualified immunity specifically applies to law enforcement. And the issue is, since you missed that part, that the judge described in the OP has just delivered the argument that any form of assault carried out by a law enforcement officer is legitimate unless it has specifically been exempted in a court.

            In other words, the judge has delivered the argument that a disgruntled officer can apply qualified immunity to any act of violence not specifically handled by a previous court.

            And the comment above is about the utter ridiculousness of that ruling.

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        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Feb 2020 @ 1:29am

          Re: Re: Re: To the best of my knowledge

          "...since breaking the law requires both mens rea and actus rea, and until a judge makes a ruling there is no mens rea and actus rea cannot be known."

          Delicious, isn't it? Qualified immunity appears to provide a full sanction for ANY overreach by law enforcement as long as there is no ruling for that specific overreach, according to the court in the OP.Extended a psychopath could walk into a home, murder the inhabitants execution-style, then cook and eat them, streaming the proceedings under the title "How to Serve Man" and maintain that since there's no ruling about this case under qualified immunity he should be back on the streets the day after.

          "Since ex post facto laws are known to be illegal, the first person to pepper spray a judge like that should get away with it."

          Which is why I think any conscientious law enforcement officer needs to consider just how many ways outside of established precedence you could theoretically assault said judge.

          You really have to wonder about the sanity of a judge who has just delivered the argument that it's OK for any disgruntled officer to blow up his car and kneecap him with a shotgun simply because he hasn't specifically prohibited that act in his courtroom.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 7:33am

      Re: To the best of my knowledge

      You will lack more than that if you start pepper spraying judges from Any circuit, I'm guessing.

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      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 12:21pm

        Re: Re: To the best of my knowledge

        Not by the rules they are applying, and unequal enforcement of law is grounds for a constitutional challenge.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 1:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: To the best of my knowledge

          But meanwhile, you gave the judge a stroke and he's in a coma now in the intensive care unit.

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          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Feb 2020 @ 4:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: To the best of my knowledge

            "But meanwhile, you gave the judge a stroke and he's in a coma now in the intensive care unit."

            ...and if it's the judge in the OP and Bergman happens to be an american cop that judge has himself made a precedent case that the hypothetical assault which threw him into a coma is legitimate under qualified immunity until some other judge decides to establish that it won't be, in future.

            It's rare that a judge is daft enough to make a ruling with an argument which translates to;"...and thus if I am assaulted by a police officer with a grudge and a bat on my way from court, I judge that this assault will be fully legal unless it has beforehand been judged to specifically fall outside of qualified immunity".

            I mean, you could argue whether or not a thrown crumpled paper ball is considered reasonable grounds for a pepper spray retaliation but that's not what these judges did. They were actually dumb enough to make an argument which gives the warden leeway to kill every prisoner, execution-style, and still claim qualified immunity.

            It's frightening that an entire set of appeal judges didn't manage to spot the terrifying implications inherent in the broken logic they applied.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2020 @ 9:00pm

    Normal pepper spray isn't dangerous. It is not banned for civilian crowd control even if it is banned in war. The intent of the ban is poisons and nerve agents.

    Some pepper spray is dual use as hot sauce.

    It is probably something I would call somewhat over the line but fists and knives are more lethal than pepper spray.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 9:01pm

      The fact that pepper spray is banned as a weapon of war kinda kicks the legs out from under your “it isn’t dangerous” argument.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2020 @ 9:32pm

        Re:

        The treaty that bans it in war but says you can use it on civilians for crowd control. It's the exact same law.

        Things like ricin and nerve agents are the intent of the biological and toxin, chemical weapon, and geneva protocol series of treaties.

        I don't approve of that scenario but it's not a thing that can cause death or permanent damage by itself.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 2:02am

          [Pepper spray is] not a thing that can cause death or permanent damage by itself.

          Per Wikipedia’s article on pepper spray:

          For those with asthma, taking other drugs, or subject to restraining techniques that restrict the breathing passages, there is a risk of death.

          The US Army concluded, in a 1993 Aberdeen Proving Ground study, that pepper spray could cause "[m]utagenic effects, carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular and pulmonary toxicity, neurotoxicity, as well as possible human fatalities. There is a risk in using this product on a large and varied population".

          Subsequent breaths through the nose or mouth lead to ingestion of the chemical, which feeds the feeling of choking. Police are trained to repeatedly instruct targets to "breathe normally" if they complain of difficulty, as the shock of the exposure can generate considerable panic as opposed to actual physical symptoms.

          And while there isn’t much proof that pepper spray on its own is responsible for long-term physical suffering or even death, the risk is there. The danger of pepper spray exists. Deny it at your own risk.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 7:36am

          Re: Re:

          There is a RISK OF DEATH whenever the government does anything to you.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 8:14am

          Re: Re:

          "The treaty that bans it in war but says you can use it on civilians for crowd control. It's the exact same law."

          Governments treat their respective constituents with less regard than soldiers, of either side, and the soldiers are all considered expendable by their respective governments - what does that tell us about our standing as a civilian?

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 2:13am

      Re:

      Normal pepper spray isn't dangerous.

      In the same way that handling habanero peppers with your bare hands and then rubbing your eyes 'isn't dangerous' perhaps, but that wouldn't prevent it from being monumentally stupid to do it to yourself, or the cruel act of a sadist to do it to someone else because you could.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 7:41am

        Re: Re:

        Hey, leave us sadists out of this. Its very hard to spray pepper spray and not get it in your own eyes and lungs.. so we don't like pepper spray as a rule.

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    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 6:09am

      Re:

      "Normal pepper spray isn't dangerous."

      Neither is low-voltage electricity applied to teeth or genitals. Pepper spray is a weapon supposed to incapacitate through pain. Ostensibly it's a viable instrument of torture.

      Personally I'd be highly inclined to ensure that it's use in law enforcement requires, as absolute necessity, a justification for its use.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 7:47am

        Re: Re:

        "Neither is low-voltage applied to teeth or genitals.."

        I knew your head needs work! Don't be giving up these Ideas when Stone is cruising the thread.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 8:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Are you saying this does not happen?
          I read that some governments think torture is perfectly acceptable and is a good method to extract the truth while others who are more knowledgeable say otherwise.

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        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 26 Feb 2020 @ 1:39am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I knew your head needs work! Don't be giving up these Ideas when Stone is cruising the thread."

          You are saying this in full knowledge that a Vice President of the United States and several senior US legal enforcement officers are on record for advocating torture?

          In a civilized society any use of violence needs justification or it is, by default, mere assault. It doesn't matter whether the offender wears a badge or not.

          The OP describes a real-world situation where a judge decided that the use of violence without justification isn't a problem since an officer of the law has an automatic get-out-of-jail card valid for any situation of violence not explicitly covered by a prior court case.

          And all you've got is a one-line troll comment?

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 9:35pm

    'Haven't ruled on assault while squinting before, QI applies'

    Following lawsuits, and the resulting rulings:

    'It has not been found that pepper-spraying an inmate on a whim with one eye closed is excessive force, therefore QI applies.'

    'It has not been found that pepper-spraying an inmate on a whim while standing on one leg is excessive force, therefore QI applies.

    'It has not been found that pepper-spraying an inmate on a whim with your left hand is excessive force, therefore QI applies.'

    'It has not been found that pepper-spraying an inmate on a whim with your left hand on a tuesday at 2:34 pm is excessive, therefore QI applies.'

    Judges like this are either corrupt scum or gutless cowards who undermine the very concept of justice and equality under the law, and in neither case should they be in charge of ruling on matters of anything of importance, and certainly not law and/or situations where the welbeing of others might be at stake.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2020 @ 9:49pm

      Re: 'Haven't ruled on assault while squinting before, QI applies

      I agree. He should have sued for torture.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 7:53am

        Re: Re: 'Haven't ruled on assault while squinting before, QI app

        All of the old school lawyers who love going after the cruelty of the establishment are dying off. Try to find a lawyer these days to sue law enforcement for torture. You will go through a ton of listings before you find one with some gnarl in their blood.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 8:51am

          Re: Re: Re: 'Haven't ruled on assault while squinting before, QI

          If you lose the case or get countersued, paying all the lawyers and plaintiff could be torturous!

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  • identicon
    Blackstone, 24 Feb 2020 @ 10:27pm

    Lemme outta here

    The law has devolved to a jobs program for idiots.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 24 Feb 2020 @ 10:56pm

      Re: Lemme outta here

      Not just idiots, corrupt goons as well, those who understand that there is no better way to get away with committing any number of crimes than going into 'law enforcement' first.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 12:07am

    We all know an Alamu..

    It is that kid from 3'rd grade you throw a snowball at in a snowball fight and he takes it as a personal insult, where after he spends a good 5 minutes packing an iceball with a rock in the middle and then does his best to hit you square in the face.
    After he throws it and gives you a bruise or scar, he denies it with that there just happened to be a rock there and it was an accident... or that he just went blank.

    Alamu is pretty much a 9 year old boy with anger issues.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 3:28am

      Re: We all know an Alamu..

      I think that describes most officers in general, actually.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 8:01am

      Re: We all know an Alamu..

      Here, here it'll be alright AC little buddy.. here, take a seat and try to relax. Everything's going to be alright! Here, have a mothball.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 3:25am

    Next year: it has not been clearly established that spraying a prisoner in only one eye for no reason is a violation of someone's rights.

    Two years: it has not been clearly established that spraying a prisoner in the face for no reason with a pepper-spray analogue is a violation of someone's rights.

    Amazingly, justice Thomas even thinks QI needs to be re-examined as judicial activism.

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  • icon
    wshuff (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 5:57am

    The faultines link isn’t working for me. Is it correct? I’d like to read the linked article.

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  • identicon
    David, 25 Feb 2020 @ 7:04am

    In unrelated news

    Congress is moving forward to make lynching a federal crime. And it looks like they have a reasonable bipartisan majority to get that passed unless Trump chooses to veto.

    Now lynching involves a number of individuals acting in a combination of actions. That means that pretty much any subsequent lynching executed by law officers would combine to a unique, previously untried combination of circumstances and individual actions, making it eligible for copyright protection. I mean, qualified immunity.

    Can we get rid of this abomination yet? No reasonable officer can have the right to assume that they are above the law. Such a right would not be compatible with being a republic.

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    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 7:17am

      Re: In unrelated news

      "Can we get rid of this abomination yet? No reasonable officer can have the right to assume that they are above the law. Such a right would not be compatible with being a republic."

      It appears Benjamin Franklin's assertion about the early United States being "a republic - if you can keep it" was lamentably prophetic.

      To think that the original US foundation stemmed from the belief that authority in itself could never be absolute.

      King George would be proud. Even in his time bailiffs didn't have quite as weighty ability to circumvent the law as "qualified immunity" provides.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 8:21am

      Re: In not so unrelated news

      They give cops guns. They give cops qualified immunity. They get good faith even not knowing the laws they are enforcing. They have their brotherhood and union to get them out of any other jams. And they can lie as much as they want to the general public. What else could you want for someone who has been charged with the duty to "Protect and Serve!"

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 10:54am

        Re: Re: In not so unrelated news

        "What else could you want for someone who has been charged with the duty to "Protect and Serve!""

        Since 1855, the Supreme Court of the United States has consistently ruled that law enforcement officers have no duty to protect any individual, despite the motto "protect and serve".

        WIKIPEDIA!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 11:49am

          Re: Re: Re: In not so unrelated news

          Cops don't protect and serve the people, per se, but the government. Its a misnomer people tend to miss.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 10:15am

    The dissent pointed out how qualified immunity is supposed to work... If nore judges had executed it properly instead of showing undue deference we wouldn't be in the situation where QI needs to be thrown out entirely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Oblate (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 10:19am

    Always the wrong questions being asked...

    Has it been clearly established that (as alleged) throwing toilet paper rolled in that precise fashion, and hitting a corrections officer in that specific location of their face, is a violation of prison rules? If not, then any reprisal from the officer was inappropriate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 11:56am

    Violation of rights.

    Is EQUAL TO..
    If we did this to you? would you Bitch and complain? Would you call an attorney??
    How would you feel, if we did the same to you??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2020 @ 3:37pm

    I support the corrections officer who pepper sprayed the convict. If you spit in someone's face, you expect to get knocked the fuck out. This ain't no different. Convicts are in prison because they committed a crime and were CONVICTED of it. Assault a police officer and think you can get off scot free, don't be too surprised if that corrections officer gets his or her buddies to deal a little street justice on your ass far from prying eyes and cameras.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 7:38pm

      Assault a police officer and think you can get off scot free, don't be too surprised if that corrections officer gets his or her buddies to deal a little street justice on your ass far from prying eyes and cameras.

      Cool, neat, nice to know you approve of violating a person’s civil rights and carrying out vigilante justice upon them if they’re a prisoner. What next, you gonna justify that arrest of a six-year-old girl in Florida by saying “she’s lucky she wasn’t beaten”?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 9:27pm

      Re:

      Yes because people always spit unprovoked.
      Neat how you talk about abusing the prisoner & yet manage to avoid the simple concept of if you treat them like shit they will treat you like shit.

      They are prisoners, they are in prison... that is supposed to be the punishment. They aren't supposed to be abused by guards who just need to shove someone down to feel better about themselves.

      In Florida they boiled a man to death, faced no charges.
      Somewhere in the south a warden was PISSED that word got out about how many prisoners "mysteriously" died in custody & photos of crumbling buildings, no heat, no running water, pest infestations. (To be fair I might be linking 2 different events together.)

      How we treat the least of us is supposed to reflect on society...
      What a shitty society.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 25 Feb 2020 @ 11:42pm

      'It is better to be thought a vile human...'

      If you spit in someone's face, you expect to get knocked the fuck out.

      If you're a a deranged person with less self-control than a child and an utter lack of understanding regarding 'proportionality', and expect the same from those around you, sure.

      Assault a police officer and think you can get off scot free, don't be too surprised if that corrections officer gets his or her buddies to deal a little street justice on your ass far from prying eyes and cameras.

      Congrats, you just exposed yourself to be even worse than those 'convicts' you were condemning before by supporting assault of a prisoner, and portrayed police/prison guards as just as deranged and twisted as yourself in the process.

      By all means though keep talking, if you're going to show the world what a repulsive person you are there's no reason to half-ass it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      bhull242 (profile), 26 Feb 2020 @ 4:03pm

      Re:

      I’m sorry, but I’m trying to figure out where it said that the pepper-sprayed convict did anything at all to the CO here, and I’m coming up completely empty.

      Sure, the CO’s lawyer claims that he threw a bit of toilet paper at him (not that that’s sufficient justification either in my book), but as both the majority and the dissent pointed out, that doesn’t actually matter in this case because the victim in this case has denied throwing anything at all, and at this stage of litigation (motion to dismiss), we have to assume that all of the plaintiff’s well-pled claims are true. Thus, the judges ruling on the motion to dismiss had to (and did) presume that the plaintiff didn’t actually do anything at all to the CO prior to getting pepper sprayed.

      The currently relevant arguments are whether or not pepper spraying someone for no reason is a violation of their rights and, if so, whether or not that right is either sufficiently obvious or clearly well-established at the time of the incident.

      So really, while your argument is still dumb (knocking someone out for spitting in your face is still assault and battery and is therefore illegal), in this specific case, the facts we have to work from claim that the convict did not, in fact, assault a police officer or CO, so your argument is completely irrelevant in this case, anyways.

      Also, if you’re talking about the convict getting off “scot-free” for assaulting a police officer, an assault that you believe is why they’re in prison in the first place, I’m not sure why you’d think that being in prison would be getting off “scott-free”. But, again, I’m not seeing anything about this guy assaulting any police officer or CO, nor anything about him thinking he’d be getting off scott-free at all, so that doesn’t actually matter here.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 27 Feb 2020 @ 3:40am

      Re:

      "If you spit in someone's face, you expect to get knocked the fuck out. This ain't no different."

      Except that the convict didn't spit in anyone's face and the fifth circuit made their ruling based on the idea that the convict did nothing at all to the corrections officer.

      So basically you support the correction officer's right to mace people for no reason what so ever.

      "...don't be too surprised if that corrections officer gets his or her buddies to deal a little street justice on your ass far from prying eyes and cameras."

      So what you are essentially arguing for is that police and law enforcement should act as a violent gang?

      I think your comment calls for the old saying about how it's better to be thought an idiot than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AlexisR200, 26 Feb 2020 @ 4:00am

    Perhaps the solution is to propose extending qualified immunity to the general citizenry. The police and its support organizations will lose their minds at the prospect and rush to point out how terrible and dangerous it is and how unaccountable people can become if granted something as overbroad and unreasonable as qualified immunity.

    We then point out "That is exactly the reason you guys shouldn't have it either".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bobob, 26 Feb 2020 @ 11:55am

    The american judicial system has failed to realize that many countries that treat their prisoners and suspects better als have much much lower crime rates and much much less hostility to law officers. It's amazing that ameicans will buy the hypothetical bullshit from "think tanks" with fringe ideas that are totally hypothetical and torturously reasoned over dozens of real world examples in real countries that contradict them. The american "justice" system is about vengence as fast as possible even at the expence of innocent suspects over creating a stable society that allows those who commit crimes to re-enter society and become productive citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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