Hayes v. County of San DiegoAnnotate this Case
Sheriff's deputies came to the home of Shane Hayes in response to a call from a neighbor. When the deputies arrived, Hayes's girlfriend informe them that Hayes was suicidal. The deputies then entered the house, where Hayes came toward them with a large knife raised in his right hand. The deputies simultaneously drew their guns and fired at Hayes, who died from the gunshot wounds. Hayes's daughter filed a complaint in federal district court against the County of San Diego and the deputies, alleging three federal law claims and two state law claims. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims, finding that the deputies owed Plaintiff no duty of care with respect to their preshooting conduct. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals asked the California Supreme Court to answer a question of state law. The Court answered by holding that, under California negligence law, liability can arise from tactical conduct and decisions employed by law enforcement preceding the use of deadly force if the conduct and decisions leading to the use of deadly force show, as part of the totality of the circumstances, that the use of deadly force was unreasonable.