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Supreme Court Considers Impact of Disability Law on Police

March 23, 2015  | 

The Supreme Court on Monday seemed skeptical that the nation's disabilities law requires police to take special precautions when arresting armed and violent suspects who are mentally ill. Most justices expressed doubts about second-guessing police who are trying to protect public safety.

The justices heard arguments in a dispute over how San Francisco police in 2008 dealt with a woman with schizophrenia who had threatened to kill her social worker. Police ultimately forced their way into Teresa Sheehan's room at a group home, then shot her after she came at them with a knife.

Sheehan survived and later sued the city, claiming police had a duty under the Americans with Disabilities Act to consider her mental illness and take more steps to avoid a violent confrontation, the Associated Press reports.

Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

kevCopAz @ 3/23/2015 4:30 PM

I think we all agree that an Officer should (and we do) handle each situation on its own merit and based upon circumstances. I would hope that some precautions or other avenues were considered before the aggressive assault. Or the assault may have been necessary and triggered by the mentally ill women. BUT, folks have to realize that we can not be perfect and cannot be required to tailer each and every arrest situation to the particular suspect. We don't know all the facts and background of most folks we encounter, the situations are out of control before we get there and we are expected to control them. One must remember the "victim" and other innocent citizens rights should always be forefront in mind before those of the suspect. Sorry but thats the price one pays for breaking the law, sane or otherwise. Sad but real life.

Chuck @ 3/23/2015 6:00 PM

That's BS how can you keep someone safe from harm if they're charging at you with a knife. How were they supposed to know if she wasn't armed? I really don't get this. I hope the supreme court makes the right call.

Ima Leprechaun @ 3/23/2015 11:17 PM

The is one decision the US Supreme Court is unqualified to make. Same as Officers are not qualified to recognize medical mental illness or fake mental illness. The Officers would have no way to know if someone is mentally ill or just faking mental illness to get away with murder. From what little information is provided here the officers were legally responding to a call for help and had followed proper procedure protocol to protect the victim and themselves and they could have been criminally and civilly liable if they did not respond regardless of someones alleged illness. Lethal force was met with lethal force and less than lethal force may not have stopped the attack. Since there are no details above, we have no way to know how close the suspect was to another person nor the viability of her attack. Without knowing the details there is no way to know if the Officers even had the time to try anything other than the proper use of force. The suspect chose the Officers response by her own actions.

Jon Retired LEO @ 3/25/2015 7:24 PM

Since the subject survived the encounter she is probably using the Disabilities part to try to fatten the wallet.

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