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Brosseau v. Haugen

United States Supreme Court
543 U.S. 194 (2004)


Police officer Rochelle Brosseau (defendant) shot Kenneth Haugen (plaintiff) in the back as he tried to escape arrest by driving away in his vehicle. Brosseau was dispatched to the scene of a fight between Haugen and two other men. At the time, Haugen had a felony warrant for his arrest on drug and other charges. Haugen fled the scene on foot, but later returned and tried to flee in his Jeep. Brosseau chased Haugen to his Jeep and gave repeated commands for him to exit the Jeep. Brosseau shattered the driver’s side window of the Jeep and struck Haugen in the head with the barrel and butt of her gun. As the Jeep began to pull away, Brosseau shot Haugen and later explained she was fearful for the safety of the other officers on foot in the area and any other motorists or pedestrians in Haugen’s path. Haugen survived and later pleaded guilty to a felony fleeing charge. Haugen then filed a federal civil rights action against Brosseau, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force. The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington granted Brosseau’s motion for summary judgment on the ground of qualified immunity. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that Brosseau used excessive force and was not entitled to qualified immunity, because the particularized right against excessive force was clearly established under the law. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari on the question of qualified immunity.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Per Curiam)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

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