Hughes v. Kisela, No. 14-15059 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that officers used excessive force in violation of her constitutional rights. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Corporal Kisela, concluding that his actions were reasonable and that he was entitled to qualified immunity. The court concluded that, when viewing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the record does not support Corporal Kisela’s perception of an immediate threat. In this case, plaintiff did not raise the knife she was holding and did not make any aggressive or threatening actions toward another woman, Sharon Chadwick. Ms. Chadwick describes plaintiff as having been composed and non-threatening immediately prior to the shooting. The court concluded that material questions of fact, such as the severity of the threat, the adequacy of police warnings, and the potential for less intrusive means are plainly in dispute. Therefore, Corporal Kisela was not entitled to summary judgment with respect to the reasonableness of his actions. The court also concluded that Corporal Kisela is not entitled to qualified immunity where the facts present the police shooting a woman who was committing no crime and holding a kitchen knife. While the woman with the knife may have been acting erratically, was approaching a third party, and did not immediately comply with orders to drop the knife, a rational jury—accepting the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff—could find that she had a constitutional right to walk down her driveway holding a knife without being shot. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded.