• Appeals Court Holds That The Fourth, Not Fourteenth, Amendment Applies to Cases Where an Officer Strikes a Passenger in a Fleeing Vehicle.
  • October 11, 2017 | Author: April L. Cressler
  • Law Firm: Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. - Pittsburgh Office
  • In the early morning hours of a Sunday, the plaintiff was the passenger in a vehicle being driven by her son, who committed a traffic violation and refused to pull over, thus initiating a slow-speed pursuit, which led police directly into the heart of the city’s main, late-night, entertainment district. As the car continued into the heavily trafficked area, several city officers opened fire in an attempt to stop the pursuit and to protect the many pedestrians present, subsequently striking the plaintiff in the face and leading to this suit. The District Court denied summary judgment for several of the officers who opened fire on the fleeing vehicle. However, on appeal, the court disagreed, holding that the specific question presented is whether an officer who, in an attempt to eliminate a serious threat of immediate harm to others, shoots a passenger in the vehicle has violated clearly established law. The court ultimately concluded that the officers’ conduct did not amount to a Constitutional violation. Further, the Court of Appeals held that the Fourth Amendment, not the Fourteenth Amendment, applies to cases where an officer strikes a passenger in a fleeing vehicle. While the Fourth Amendment is a higher burden, this decision presents a thorough factual analysis of the issue of qualified immunity and the appropriate analysis of these fact-specific scenarios.