officers and then was killed by a trooper. The lawsuit sought damages over the shooting death. In a 5-0 decision, the Supreme Court said the three troopers sued by Burl Thompson are covered by the state government’s immunity from lawsuit. The justices said the decedent was suffering from mental illness and became angry about cars that he believed were speeding past his home in a rural area of Escambia County.
Escambia County officers went to the scene but couldn’t get the man to leave his house or speak with them. The sheriff’s department called in a State Trooper tactical unit, which also had no success in getting him to surrender. State Troopers fired tear gas into the home. The man came out with his shotgun, firing at officers. He reloaded his shotgun and kept firing, wounding one in the ankle before one of the troopers fatally shot him in the chest. The plaintiff argued on appeal that the troopers shouldn’t have immunity as agents of the state because they had not followed the Alabama Department of Public Safety’s manual for handling such situations. The plaintiff contended that the troopers didn’t have enough negotiators present and used tactics that agitated the situation.
The Supreme Court said the Department of Public Safety’s manual provides guidelines for handling situations, but it does not set binding rules that troopers must follow. If the court had found the manual to be binding on the troopers, the plaintiff could have tried to recover monetary damages from them at trial. In my opinion, the court made the right decision on the immunity issue in this context. We don’t need to further tie the hands of law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line daily. I believe the Supreme Court justices did the right thing!
Source: Associated Press
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