Police, The Fourth Amendment, Qualified Immunity

The Tragic Case Of Robert Saylor, Down’s Syndrome Man Killed By Police At Movie Theatre

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This case got a fair amount of national media coverage when it happened in 2013. Long story short, a man with Downs Syndrome refused to leave a movie theatre, the police were called, and, instead of waiting for the man’s mother, the police picked a fight with the man (IQ of about 40, clearly showing Downs) and ended up killing him.

A grand jury failed to criminally indict the police officers, see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/no-criminal-charges-in-death-of-robert-saylor-frederick-man-with-down-syndrome/2013/03/22/3a723b6c-932f-11e2-8ea1-956c94b6b5b9_story.html.

In this opinion, Judge William M. Nickerson refuses the police officers and their employer (that is, the State of Maryland) qualified immunity for the killing of Robert Saylor.

Criticism: I don’t think the secretive grand jury proceedings are admissible in the civil case, and, if this is true, it seems wrong. More specifically, I would hate to think that the officers could get out of civil liability at the grand jury by testifying that they followed their training (see linked WaPo article), but that the State may get out of employer-based liability by claiming that the officers were not trained to do what they did to Robert Saylor. I fear that that is what is about to happen in this civil case if it is not settled.

Written by Burgers Allday

October 23, 2014 at 12:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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