James v. New Jersey State Police

#QualifiedImmunity #ClearlyEstablished #1983

4/21/2020 — The defendant appealed the trial court’s denial of his motion for summary judgment. This 1983 suit was brought as a result of a state trooper shooting and killing an armed suspect. Prior to engaging with the suspect, the trooper knew he was armed, had just violated a restraining order, and was not taking medication for mental health conditions. When the trooper engaged the suspect, he saw the suspect’s gun. But when the suspect refused to drop the weapon, the trooper fired the fatal shot. The trial court denied the trooper qualified immunity, but the 3rd Circuit reversed, holding that the trooper did not violate a “clearly established” right of the suspect. The Court spent a substantial portion of its opinion distinguishing its prior case of Bennett v. Murphy, 274 F.3d 133 (3d 2002).