The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday expanded the ability of people to sue police for excessive force, ruling in favor of a New Mexico woman who filed a civil rights lawsuit after being shot by officers she had mistaken for carjackers.
The 5-3 decision allowed the woman, Roxanne Torres, to pursue her lawsuit accusing New Mexico State Police officers Richard Williamson and Janice Madrid of violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment ban on illegal searches and seizures even though she had not been immediately detained, or seized, in the incident.
The court determined that in order to sue for excessive force under the Fourth Amendment, it is not necessary for a plaintiff to have been physically seized by law enforcement, Reuters reports.
“We hold that the application of physical force to the body of a person with intent to restrain is a seizure even if the person does not submit and is not subdued,” conservative Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the ruling.
Roberts was joined in the decision by the court’s three liberals and one of his fellow conservatives, Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Three other conservatives justices dissented. The newest justice, conservative Amy Coney Barrett, did not participate because she had not yet joined the court when the case was argued in October.