Baker v. Coburn, No. 21-10303 (5th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
This qualified immunity case arises from the death of a man who was shot and killed by officers of the Stratford Police Department after he attempted to evade arrest while fleeing in a stolen car. Plaintiffs, the man’s minor child and his estate appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendants.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded to the district court. The court explained that Plaintiffs have not pointed to sufficient authority clearly establishing that the officer’s conduct violated the law under the specific circumstances he was facing, and thus he is entitled to qualified immunity. Further, the court explained that here there are significant factual disputes about the manner in which the incident took place. If the facts are as the officers alleged them—that the man drove straight at the officer and missed, deadly force may well be reasonable. However, at the summary stage, the court must draw all inferences in favor of Plaintiffs’ version of facts. The district court did not address whether the man’s rights with respect to the second round of shots were clearly established. The court reversed the district court’s opinion granting summary judgment as to the second round of shots and remanded to the district court.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on May 19, 2023.