E.W. v. Dolgos, No. 16-1608 (4th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of a school resource officer in an action brought by an elementary school student under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment and several state laws. The officer decided to handcuff the student for fighting with another student three days prior. The court held that, under the totality of the circumstances, the officer's actions were not objectively reasonable in light of the facts and circumstances where the student was a ten year old girl who was sitting calmly and compliantly in a closed office surrounded by three adults and was answering questions about the incident at issue. Although the officer used excessive force, the student's right not to be handcuffed under the circumstances was not clearly established at the time of her seizure. Therefore, the officer was entitled to qualified immunity. The court also held that there was insufficient evidence in the record for a reasonable jury to conclude that the officer acted maliciously or with gross negligence when she handcuffed the student.