A San Diego sheriff’s deputy is immune from civil liability for alleged excessive force in which a mentally ill man was shot and killed in his home in 2013, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the denial of immunity for deputy Adrian Moses in the shooting death of David Brown.
In 2013, the family left their home and headed to a fire state to report that Brown was bipolar, schizophrenic, diabetic and under the influence of Valium and alcohol, the court said. The family reported to Moses and another deputy that Brown had been acting aggressively all day long and threatened someone would get hurt if he didn’t get alcohol.
In addition, Brown kept knives, including a pocket knife, the court said. Moses and his partner entered the Brown home and found Brown with kitchen knives sticking out of his pockets. Brown had trouble standing. Moses, with weapon drawn, told Brown to raise his hands. Brown told deputies he would put the knives on the table. Moses told him not to.
Brown engaged in rambling conversation and dropped to his knees when ordered by Moses. When Moses’ partner moved to Brown to handcuff him, Brown produced a knife and was shot three or four times by Moses.
The family sued saying Brown’s constitutional right against the use of excessive force was violated.
The trial judge rejected Moses’ claim that he was immune from prosecution and the deputy and county appealed.
“We disagree with the district court that it was clearly established on August 24, 2013, that using deadly force in this situation, even viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, would constitute excessive force under the Fourth Amendment,” Judge John Owens wrote. “Moses is therefore immune from liability… for his use of deadly force,” Owens said.
He was joined by Judges Milan Smith and Edward Korman, visiting from the Eastern District of New York.
Case: S.B. v. County of San Diego, 15-56848