[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday in City and County of SF v. Sheehan [SCOTUSblog materials] that two police officers who shot and injured a mentally disabled woman during the course of an arrest are entitled to qualified immunity from liability for the injuries suffered. The court held that the officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment [text] when they opened the armed and mentally ill woman’s door a second time rather than attempt to accommodate her disability. Although it was alleged that the officers’ conduct was contrary to their training, the opinion by Justice Samuel Alito concluded that, “even if Reynolds and Holder misjudged the situation, Sheehan cannot ‘establish a Fourth Amendment violation based merely on bad tactics that result in a deadly confrontation that could have been avoided.'” The court also determined that the degree of force used was reasonable under the circumstances.
The court dismissed as improvidently granted the question whether Title II [text] of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [text] requires police officers to provide accommodations to an armed, violent and mentally ill suspect in the course of bringing the suspect into custody, a question of law that has resulted in a circuit split. The issue was not argued by San Francisco as expected, and Justice Antonin Scalia addressed this in an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Justice Elena Kagan joined. In his dissenting opinion Scalia stated, “I would not encourage future litigants to seek review premised on arguments they never plan to press,” and suggested that the second question presented should have been dismissed as “uncertworthy.” The ADA has led to considerable litigation throughout the country considering the rights of citizens with a range of disabilities and the opinion Monday does not provide any further clarification on the duties imposed on police officers by Title II of the act.