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Now Tougher to Sue Cops

December 22, 2004  | 

In two cases, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of law enforcement, making it more difficult to sue police for doing their jobs.

Specifically, it’s now more difficult for suspects or their families to sue law enforcement officers or agencies for the shooting of a fleeing suspect or stopping a motorist on false charges.

One of the cases was Brosseau vs. Haugen. It was one that courts had trouble ruling on because of what the Supreme Court called, “the hazy border between excessive and acceptable force.”

Officer Rochelle Brosseau of Puyallup, Wash., near Tacoma, shot a suspect as he tried to speed away in his Jeep. The suspect, Kenneth Haugen, survived and sued the officer.

In reaction to the ruling, Brosseau said in a statement released by her attorney, “On the day I was forced to shoot Mr. Haugen, I believed he was an immediate threat to people nearby, including a little 3-year-old girl. I was doing everything in my power to stop him. These kinds of decisions are made in split seconds, in dangerous surroundings, then scrutinized for years in court.”

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