Marquez v. City of Phoenix

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-11-2012
  • Case #: 10-17156
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge O'Scannlain for the Court; Circuit Judge Graber; Dissent by Circuit Judge Schroeder
  • Full Text Opinion

Police do not violate the Fourth Amendment by repeatedly using a taser on a suspect when the suspect has his granddaughter in a chokehold, is combative with police, and there are other victims present. Under Arizona law, there is no claim for wrongful death where police acted reasonably in the use of force, which they did here.

The Marquezes appealed the district court’s decision to grant summary judgment against them and its conclusion that the officers did not use unreasonable deadly force. Police had responded to a call and found Ronald Marquez with his three-year-old granddaughter in a chokehold, while his daughter was in the corner with visible injuries and there was blood around the room. The police repeatedly used a TASER on Ronald, both through the darts and in the “drive-stun mode.” Even with the use of the TASER, the officers had to “wrestle Ronald into submission.” He then had a weak pulse, went into cardiac arrest and died. The Marquezes argue that TASER should have a more complete warning on their product about the possible injury it could cause to certain individuals. The Court found that the TASER warnings met the Arizona standard, requiring that warnings be reasonably readable and give the consumer enough information to protect himself against it. The Court then considered Marquezes’ claim that officers used unreasonable force. The Court used a balancing test of the intrusion on Fourth Amendment rights and the governmental interests as stake. There was an intrusion into Ronald’s Fourth Amendment rights. But, when balanced against the situation with Ronald’s violence and the injuries to the others, the officers’ use of force was reasonable to protect themselves and the victims. Finally, the Court addressed the Marquezes’ claim that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on the claim of wrongful death. For this claim to be successful, it needed to prove that there was unjustified use of deadly force. The Court found that, even if the TASER was considered deadly force, the officers reasonably used them to prevent serious bodily injury to others. The Court therefore affirmed the findings of the district court.

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