Glenn v. Washington County

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 11-04-2011
  • Case #: 10-35636
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge R. Fisher for the Court; Circuit Judges Gould and Paez
  • Full Text Opinion

Summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue of material fact. In the case of qualified immunity for police officers the actions of the officer should be objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances.

Lukas Glenn returned home very intoxicated and agitated at about three in the morning. His mother, Hope Glenn, called the police believing he needed help to calm down after Lukas threatened suicide with a pocketknife. An off duty deputy arrived first. The officer immediately drew his weapon and began yelling at Lukas. Another deputy arrived within a minute and immediately drew his weapon and began yelling commands at Lukas. The deputies ordered his parents into the house and his friends to stand behind the deputies so that no one was near Lukas. Another deputy arrived with a beanbag shotgun and was immediately ordered to fire upon Lukas. After being hit with the beanbag rounds, Lukas took a step back and the first two officers fired eleven shots, eight of which hit and killed Lukas. The district court granted summary judgment for the officers stating that the officers had qualified immunity. The Ninth Circuit held that in order to sustain a summary judgment in favor of qualified immunity the officers’ actions must be “objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances surrounding them.” The Ninth Circuit held that there are three steps to the analysis; (1) assessing “the severity of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment rights by evaluating the type and amount of force inflicted”; (2) “evaluating the government’s interest in the use of force”; and (3) balancing the “gravity of the intrusion on the individual against the government’s need for that intrusion.” The Ninth Circuit concluded based on the facts in the record, there still remained a material issue of fact as to whether the officers acted reasonably under the circumstances. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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