No Qualified Immunity for Cop Who Shot and Killed a Suicidal Man, Says Federal Court
Albina Roque called 911 on May 2, 2017, to report that her son, Jason, was threatening to kill himself. When officers from the Austin Police Department arrived on the scene, Jason was pacing in front of his house, with a black gun—later determined to be a BB gun—in his waistband. “I’ll fucking kill myself!” Roque said as he turned away from the officers and pointed the gun at his head.
“Put the gun down,” yelled one of the officers. Video footage shows what happened next: As Roque began turning back towards the officers, with the BB gun raised in the air, he was shot by Officer James Harvel. That shot caused Roque to drop the gun. Harvel then quickly fired twice more. The third shot killed Roque.
Roque’s parents sued Harvel in federal court for using excessive force against their late son in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Harvel countered by invoking the controversial doctrine of qualified immunity, which shields state officials from being held civilly liable if the actions that they are being sued over did not violate a “clearly established” constitutional right.
In a ruling is
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