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Tolan v. Cotton

United States Supreme Court
134 S. Ct. 1861 (2014)


Facts

At approximately 2:00 a.m. on the morning of December 31, 2008, police officer John Edwards noticed a vehicle turning onto a residential street and parking in front of a house. Edwards mistakenly believed the vehicle was stolen. Robert Tolan (plaintiff) and his cousin, Anthony Cooper (plaintiff), exited the car. Edwards accused them of stealing the car, and Tolan stated that it was his car. Tolan’s parents came outside after hearing the noise. Tolan’s parents reiterated that the vehicle belonged to Tolan, who lived at the home with them. Sergeant Jeffrey Cotton (defendant) arrived on the scene and ordered Tolan’s mother to stand against the garage door. Cotton escorted Tolan’s mother and may have pushed her up against the garage door. Tolan testified that he reacted to this and rose to his knees. Edwards and Cotton testified that Tolan rose to his feet. All parties agree that Tolan then exclaimed, “Get your fucking hands off my mom.” Cotton then shot Tolan, piercing his liver and collapsing his right lung. Tolan survived but suffered a life-altering injury, which causes daily pain. Tolan, his parents, and Cooper sued Cotton under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging the use of excessive force violated the Fourth Amendment. After discovery, Cotton moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment. Tolan appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which affirmed. Tolan then petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Per Curiam)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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