The National Police Association Asks the United States Supreme Court to Restore Qualified Immunity to Sacramento Deputy
12 Apr, 2022, 09:00 ET
INDIANAPOLIS, April 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Police Association (NPA) has filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court urging the Supreme Court to grant certiorari, and review the Ninth Circuit's decision in County of Sacramento v. Thomas. The case concerns both the correct application of the summary judgment standard under Federal Rule 56, as well as the appropriateness of a Court of Appeals' decision to disregard important, undisputed facts that favor the Deputy Sheriff, a government defendant, when assessing the qualified immunity defense. In the amicus brief, the NPA argues that the Supreme Court should accept review of the case because the Ninth Circuit's interpretation of Rule 56 is contrary to established Supreme Court precedent and because that view is being adopted by an increasing number of Circuit and District Courts nationwide.
Kenard Thomas and Erika Drayton were in a dating relationship in 2017. On March 12, 2017, Drayton reported that Thomas punched her in the face with a closed fist four to five times while they were at a convenience store. The left side of her face was swollen and red underneath her eye and she sustained a contusion. The incident was captured on the store's video surveillance. Thomas left the store before police arrived. Drayton petitioned for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order prohibiting Thomas from being within one hundred yards of her or her residence.
On June 13, 2017 Drayton saw Thomas walking by the front of her home and into a nearby abandoned house. She called 9-1-1. Sacramento, CA Sheriff Deputies responded. She told the deputies that she had a Domestic Violence Restraining Order against Thomas and that she had observed a gun in his waistband. She also reported to deputies Thomas is known to carry knives, run and hide from police officers, and he is a violent person. Four deputies went to the abandoned house and ordered anyone inside to come out with their hands up. One deputy observed a male in the front of the house run to the back. The deputies entered the house and began a search, continuing to announce themselves and ordering anyone in the house to make themselves known.
Deputy Nicholas Russell was searching a back bedroom. One wall of this bedroom had a built-in closet. The closet was narrow and had two sliding doors. Both doors covered the left side of the closet, leaving the right side of the closet open to view. Deputy Russell approached the closet and held his gun out with the attached light on. As Deputy Russell slid open the closet door, he saw Thomas' face coming at him. Deputy Russell fired one shot hitting Thomas in the right shoulder/arm area. Thomas was treated for his non-life threatening injury.
On August 29, 2017, Thomas pleaded no contest to resisting a peace officer, as well as inflicting injury on Drayton for the March 12, 2017, incident. He was sentenced to one hundred and eighty days in county jail.
Thomas later filed a lawsuit in federal district court for being shot which he lost on summary judgment, but which was later reversed by the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit ruled against Deputy Russell even though it is undisputed that:
- The victim reported the domestic violence suspect had a gun;
- the domestic violence suspect was known to carry knives, to evade police, and to be violent;
- the domestic violence suspect was on probation;
- the domestic violence suspect had prior arrests for domestic violence as well as resisting and obstructing peace officers;
- the officers made numerous announcements but the domestic violence suspect continued to hide in the closet;
- the domestic violence suspect never responded to any announcement before exiting the closet; and
- the domestic violence suspect, within two or three feet of Deputy Russell, advanced on Deputy Russell with no prior verbal warning.
The growing trend by courts to treat criminals as victims and police officers who are just performing difficult jobs as perpetrators is contributing to rising violent crime across the country. The National Police Association is asking the Supreme Court to draw a line in the sand here and say enough is enough. Thomas is not a victim. Russell is not a perpetrator.
The National Police Association is represented by Robert S. Lafferrandre of Pierce Couch Hendrickson Baysinger & Green, L.L.P., of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The case is County of Sacramento, California, et al., Petitioners v. Kenard Thomas, No. 21-1220 before the United States Supreme Court. The NPA's amicus brief can be read here: https://nationalpolice.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/County-of-Sacramento-et-al.-v.-Thomas-Supreme-Court-Appeal-No.-21-1220-Amicus-Brief-of-National-Police-Association.pdf
About The National Police Association
The National Police Association (NPA) is a 501(c)3 Educational/Advocacy non-profit organization. For additional information visit www.nationalpolice.org.
SOURCE National Police Association
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