Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit brought against an Arizona police officer by a woman who was shot four times while she was armed with a large kitchen knife.
The Supreme Court sided with University of Arizona Police Department Corporal Andrew Kisela by a 7-2 vote in the May 2010 shooting, and determined the officer was entitled to qualified immunity.
The incident occurred when three university police officers responded to a home in Tucson for a call about a woman behaving erratically and hacking at a tree with a knife, according to Reuters.
When police arrived at the home, there were two women in the driveway, one of whom was armed with a large knife and appeared to be threatening the other.
Amy Hughes did not comply with officers’ orders to drop the knife, and she started moving toward Sharon Chadwick. Cpl. Kisela shot her as she was just six feet from Chadwick.
Hughes had a history of mental illness, according to the Supreme Court summary, and shortly before she was shot, she had held a knife to Chadwick’s dog and threatened to kill it.
Afterwards, Hughes filed a lawsuit against the police officer claiming he had violated her Fourth Amendment rights that protect against unreasonable searches and seizures. She was seeking at least $150,000 in damages, according to Reuters.
The first trial judge threw out the case and said Cpl. Kisela’s actions had been justified, but the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling and said Hughes had a right to walk towards somebody in her driveway while holding a knife, Reuters reported.
On April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Cpl. Kisela was entitled to qualified immunity protecting him from the litigation because he did not violate any clearly established law.
The court’s decision was unsigned and issued without full briefing and oral argument, which was an indication that the majority of the justices found the case to be easy and require no explanation, The New York Times reported.