Federal Judge Holds Officers’ Actions in Fatal Shooting Immune, Except for Final Bullet, by Benjamin Weiser in the New York Times.
With an excessive force lawsuit pending, a federal judge in Manhattan held most of the officers’ conduct immune from civil liability, because their actions, under the circumstances, were legally reasonable, she found. But the judge, Katherine B. Forrest of Federal District Court, found one exception: the final bullet, fired by Sgt. William Flores.
Nick Paolucci, a Law Department spokesman, said, “We believe the actions of Officer Flores were fully justified and we will vigorously defend this last surviving claim.” The family’s lawyer, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, expressed disappointment at the ruling, saying that there was “ample evidence” to conclude Mr. Jaquez “was not posing any threat” to any of the officers. “His widow and three orphans look forward to their day in court,” he added.
Judge Forrest observed that “the court should not apply 20/20 hindsight to merely second-guess police conduct” in such cases. She said the Supreme Court had found that such immunity served “an important policy purpose,” in giving officials “breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal questions.” Such immunity protected “all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law,” she added.