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Brosseau v. Haugen

Supreme Court of the United States

December 13, 2004, Decided

No. 03-1261

Opinion

 [**596]   [*194]  Per Curiam.

 [**596]  Officer Rochelle Brosseau, a member of the Puyallup, Washington, Police Department,  [**597]  shot Kenneth Haugen in the back as he attempted to flee from law enforcement authorities in his vehicle. Haugen subsequently filed this action in the United States District Court for the Western District of  [*195]  Washington pursuant to Rev Stat § 1979, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [42 USCS § 1983]. He alleged that the shot fired by Brosseau constituted excessive force and violated his federal constitutional rights. 1 The District Court granted summary judgment to Brosseau after finding she [****2]  was entitled to qualified immunity. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed.  339 F.3d 857 (2003).  Following the two-step process set out in  Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 150 L. Ed. 2d 272, 121 S. Ct. 2151 (2001), the Court of Appeals found, first, that Brosseau had violated Haugen's Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force and, second, that the right violated was clearly established and thus Brosseau was not entitled to qualified immunity. Brosseau then petitioned for writ of certiorari, requesting that we review both of the Court of Appeals' determinations. We grant the petition on the second, qualified immunity question and reverse.

The material facts, construed in a light most favorable to Haugen, are as follows. 2 On the day before the fracas, Glen Tamburello went to the police station and reported to Brosseau that Haugen, a former crime partner [****3]  of his, had stolen tools from his shop. Brosseau later learned that there was a felony no-bail warrant out for Haugen's arrest on drug and other offenses. The next morning, Haugen was spray painting his Jeep Cherokee in his mother's driveway. Tamburello learned of Haugen's whereabouts, and he and cohort Matt Atwood drove a pickup truck to Haugen's mother's house to pay Haugen a visit. A fight ensued, which was witnessed by a neighbor who called 911.

Brosseau heard a report that the men were fighting in Haugen's mother's yard and responded. When she arrived, Tamburello and Atwood were attempting to get Haugen into  [*196]  Tamburello's pickup. Brosseau's arrival created a distraction, which provided Haugen the opportunity to get away. Haugen ran through his mother's yard [****4]  and hid in the neighborhood. Brosseau requested assistance, and, shortly thereafter, two officers  [***588]  arrived with a K-9 to help track Haugen down. During the search, which lasted about 30 to 45 minutes, officers instructed Tamburello and Atwood to remain in Tamburello's pickup. They instructed Deanna Nocera, Haugen's girlfriend who was also present with her 3-year-old daughter, to remain in her small car with her daughter. Tamburello's pickup was parked in the street in front of the driveway; Nocera's small car was parked in the driveway in front of and facing the Jeep; and the Jeep was in the driveway facing Nocera's car and angled somewhat to the left. The Jeep was parked about 4 feet away from Nocera's car and 20 to 30 feet away from Tamburello's pickup.

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543 U.S. 194 *; 125 S. Ct. 596 **; 160 L. Ed. 2d 583 ***; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 8275 ****; 73 U.S.L.W. 3350; 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 48

ROCHELLE BROSSEAU, Petitioner v. KENNETH J. HAUGEN

Prior History:  [****1] ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

 Haugen v. Brosseau, 339 F.3d 857, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 15517 (9th Cir. Wash., 2003)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

qualified immunity, use deadly force, shot, shooting, fleeing, cases, constitutional question, weapon, driveway, driver, street, probable cause, felony, pickup, kill, serious physical harm, the Fourth Amendment, courts, front, ran

Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, General Overview, Civil Rights Law, Immunity From Liability, Local Officials, Customs & Policies, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Search & Seizure, Probable Cause, Scope of Protection, Criminal Law & Procedure, Resisting Arrest, Fleeing & Eluding