Batyukova v. Doege, No. 20-50425 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of qualified immunity and summary judgment to defendant on plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims, alleging that defendant, an off-duty sheriff's deputy at the time, used excessive force when he shot her several times. Plaintiff had emerged from a stopped vehicle and would not follow defendant's demands, and when she reached behind her waist, defendant feared that she might be reaching for a weapon and shot her. The court concluded that defendant made a split second decision to use deadly force against a non-compliant person who made a movement consistent with reaching for a weapon, and plaintiff failed to identify clearly established law prohibiting defendant's use of deadly force.
Plaintiff also alleged that defendant shot her in retaliation for engagement in activity protected by the First Amendment. The court agreed with the district court that plaintiff did not present evidence that her speech and expressive conduct was a but-for cause of the shooting. In this case, defendant did not discharge his firearm at plaintiff when she began shouting expletives at him or when she was walking towards him. Rather, he shot her when she reached her hand behind her back towards the waistband of her pants. Finally, plaintiff has not shown that defendant responded to her medical needs with deliberate indifference.