Mendez, Sr. v. Poitevent, No. 15-50790 (5th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
After Juan Mendez, Jr. was shot to death by a Border Patrol Agent, Taylor Poitevent, Mendez's family filed suit against Poitevent for, among other things, excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiffs also asserted various intentional tort claims against the United States. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. The court held that Poitevent did not use excessive force because a reasonable officer in his situation could have believed that plaintiff posed a threat of serious harm, justifying the use of deadly force. The court rejected plaintiffs’ argument that the United States may not invoke Texas’s civil privilege defense. The court also rejected plaintiffs' argument that even if the United States may assert the civil privilege defense here, genuine disputes of material fact exist as to whether Poitevent’s conduct was privileged. The court concluded that Poitevent could have reasonably believed that there was a substantial risk that Mendez would cause death or serious bodily injury to him or another person if the arrest was delayed, and that he could have reasonably believed that deadly force was immediately necessary to make an arrest. Finally, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in implicitly denying plaintiffs’ motion for a continuance to conduct discovery. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.