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Mullenix v. Luna

Supreme Court of the United States

November 9, 2015, Decided

No. 14-1143

Opinion

 [*306]  PER CURIAM.

On the night of March 23, 2010, Sergeant Randy Baker of the Tulia, Texas Police Department followed Israel Leija, Jr., to a drive-in restaurant, with a warrant for his arrest. 773 F. 3d 712, 715-716 (CA5 2014). When Baker approached Leija’s car and informed him that he was under arrest, Leija sped off, headed for Interstate 27. 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111414, 2013 WL 4017124, *1 (ND Tex., Aug. 7, 2013). Baker gave chase and was quickly joined by Trooper  [**257]  Gabriel Rodriguez of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). 773 F. 3d, at 716.

Leija entered the interstate and led the officers on an 18-minute chase at speeds between 85 and 110 miles per hour. Ibid. Twice during the chase, Leija called the Tulia Police dispatcher, claiming to have a gun and threatening to shoot at police officers if they did not abandon their pursuit. The dispatcher relayed Leija’s threats, together with a report that Leija might be intoxicated, to all concerned officers.

As Baker and Rodriguez maintained their pursuit, other law enforcement officers set up tire spikes at three locations. Officer Troy Ducheneaux of the Canyon Police Department manned the spike strip at the first location Leija was expected to reach, beneath the [***2]  overpass at Cemetery Road. Ducheneaux and the other officers had received training on the deployment of spike strips, including on how to take a defensive position so as to minimize the risk posed by the passing driver. Ibid.

DPS Trooper Chadrin Mullenix also responded. He drove to the Cemetery Road overpass, initially intending to set up a spike strip there. Upon learning of the other spike strip positions, however, Mullenix began to consider another tactic: shooting at Leija’s car in order to disable it. 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111414, 2013 WL 4017124, *1. Mullenix had not received training in this tactic and had not attempted it before, but he radioed the idea to Rodriguez. Rodriguez responded “10-4,” gave Mullenix his position, and said that Leija had slowed to 85 miles per hour. Mullenix then asked the DPS dispatcher to inform his supervisor, Sergeant  [*307]  Byrd, of his plan and ask if Byrd thought it was “worth doing.” 773 F. 3d, at 716-717. Before receiving Byrd’s response, Mullenix exited his vehicle and, armed with his service rifle, took a shooting position on the overpass, 20 feet above I-27. Respondents allege that from this position, Mullenix still could hear Byrd’s response to “stand by” and “see if the spikes work first.” Ibid. 1

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136 S. Ct. 305 *; 193 L. Ed. 2d 255 **; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 7160 ***; 84 U.S.L.W. 4003; 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 555

CHADRIN LEE MULLENIX, Petitioner v. BEATRICE LUNA, Individually and as Representative of the ESTATE OF ISRAEL LEIJA, JR., et al.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

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

Luna v. Mullenix, 773 F.3d 712, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 24067 (5th Cir. Tex., 2014)

CORE TERMS

spike strip, shooting, qualified immunity, Fourth Amendment, deadly force, circumstances, shot, fleeing, waiting, kill, overpass, fired, governmental interest, training, engine, cases, chase, use deadly force, police officer, flight, speeds, block, hit, spikes, tactic, miles per hour, fugitive, drivers, marks, excessive force

Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Immunity From Liability, Defenses