Pearce v. TuckerAnnotate this Case
This matter arose from wrongful death suit filed by appellant Tammy Pearce individually and as administrator of the estate of her husband, Christopher Pearce, against Glynn County Police Officer Henry Tucker after Christopher committed suicide while in custody. On the day of his suicide, Christopher (who suffered from major depressive disorder) arrived unexpectedly at his pastor’s house carrying a pistol in his hand; the pastor and his wife summoned help while Christopher remained outside. Officers Henry Tucker and William Tomlinson, Jr., arrived at the residence and observed Christopher with a gun tucked in his waistband. Christopher, a convicted felon, was subsequently handcuffed, relieved of the firearm, and placed in a patrol car. Officer Tucker transported Christopher to the Glynn County Police Department headquarters. Once at the headquarters, Christopher was placed in a holding cell with a monitored video feed. Pursuant to police department policy, Officer Tucker had Christopher remove his shoes, belt, tie, and the contents of his pockets. Approximately 15-20 minutes after being placed in the holding cell, Christopher ended his life by hanging himself with his socks. The trial court denied Officer Tucker’s motion for summary judgment; the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court, concluding that there was insufficient evidence that any negligent act by Officer Tucker proximately caused Christopher's death, and the Supreme Court subsequently granted certiorari to review that decision. The Supreme Court held that as a threshold matter that Officer Tucker was entitled to qualified immunity, and it therefore did not address the merits of Appellant’s negligence claim. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals under the "right-for-any-reason" rule.