Betton v. Belue, No. 18-1974 (4th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against defendant, alleging unlawful entry and use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. In this case, police officers used a battering ram to enter plaintiff's dwelling to execute a warrant. The officers did not announce their presence before using the battering ram, and plaintiff responded by pulling out a gun. Although plaintiff never discharged the gun, 29 shots were fired at him and he was struck nine times.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of qualified immunity with respect to the excessive force claim, holding that disputes of material fact preclude an award of summary judgment. The court held that a reasonable jury could find under the facts presented that plaintiff did not pose a threat to the officers justifying the use of deadly force. Furthermore, in light of Cooper v. Sheehan, 735 F.3d 153 (4th Cir. 2013), the court held that plaintiff's Fourth Amendment right to be free from the use of excessive force was clearly established at the time the incident occurred.