Thursday, January 26, 2012

SCOTUS Reverses Denial of Qualified Immunity; Cops Reasonably Entered Home When Parent Refused to Talk to Them

Ryburn v. Huff, 2012 WL 171121 (1/23/12) - A unanimous per curiam reversal of a 9th Circuit ยง 1983 civil rights case. The officers were entitled to qualified immunity because an officer could reasonably believe it was necessary to make a warrantless entry of a home to make sure no violence occurred in the following circumstances. Officers investigated a rumor that a high school student had written a letter threatening to "shoot up" the school. When the officers went to the boy's home, no one answered the officers' knocks after they announced they were police. No one answered a call to the home phone. The boy's mother answered the officers' cell phone call, told them she and her son were inside the home, but then she hung up on them. Later the mother and son walked out of the house. The mother refused to allow the officers to discuss the threat matter inside the house. When an officer asked the mom whether there were any guns in the house, she immediately turned around and ran into the house. The officers followed her. The Court emphasized the circumstances should be analyzed in their entirety and without second-guessing officers. It didn't matter that the mom had a right to refuse to answer questions and to go into her house. It was objectively reasonable to think violence was imminent.