As the following case illustrates, this doctrine is used to excuse the most heinous of behavior, even when if violates completely innocent women in utterly rapacious ways.
Angela Calloway has never been suspected of a crime, never arrested, and has never been to jail. She is, according to a lawsuit filed on her behalf, “completely innocent.” She does, however, know someone behind bars.
When Calloway went to visit this person behind bars, she was subject to an utterly horrifying experience at the hands of prison guards. She was forced to strip down and remove her tampon from her vagina which was then inspected by officers before being thrown away.
Naturally, Calloway felt that her rights were violated — namely her 4th Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure — so she filed a lawsuit against the federal prison in Virginia where her violation took place.
This week, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit justified the search, ruling that forcing a completely innocent woman to strip down and pull out her tampon in front of police to inspect it — is A-Okay — even forcing her to squat, cough, and spread her butt cheeks.
A draft report from the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice reveals the Trump administration’s plan to further expand the national police state, with an emphasis on supporting and expanding qualified immunity and facial recognition.
The president formed the commission via executive order in January. A federal judge recently blocked the release of the commission’s report due to a lack of diversity on the panel and evidence that it operated in secrecy in violation of public meeting laws.
The court order stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (NAACP LDF). The suit claimed the commission failed to provide proper notice of public hearing and that it gave too much influence to law enforcement interests in violation of laws dictating how federal advisory committees must operate.
According to a Reuters report, “The panel’s 18 commissioners include federal, state and local law enforcement representatives, but no civil rights advocates, defense attorneys or big-city police officials.”
Through an open records request, Reuters obtained a draft of the commission’s report, revealing a plan to further empower law enforcement in the United States. A New York Times op-ed declared, “The president’s commission was considering recommendations that could transform this nation into a dystopian police state.”
The report recommends increasing “due process” protections for police offers facing charges of misconduct, and called on the Justice Department to regularly affirm support for qualified immunity.
The horrifying video of George Floyd’s death, and the protests that followed, led to a rare occurrence: The police officers responsible are being prosecuted. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder and remains in jail, and three other officers are facing lesser charges.
Kentucky’s recent decision not to bring homicide charges against the officers who killed Breonna Taylor is much more typical. Most instances of law enforcement brutality do not result in criminal charges, even when they are captured on video. They often result in no consequences at all. This includes many cases of excessive force in response to the protests after Floyd’s death, but the problem is long standing, and not restricted to local police.
Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa Jr. was not prosecuted or disciplined for shooting and killing a 15-year-old boy, and the Supreme Court ruled last year that the boy’s parents could not sue.
Most of the individuals responsible for the CIA torture program faced no consequences—in fact, one of the CIA employees who oversaw torture and evidence destruction now leads the agency.
And the list goes on.
A federal appeals court on Thursday declined to grant qualified immunity to an Alabama police officer who shot and killed a man “without warning” for failing to show identification after he attempted to help a stray dog his family found in a parking lot.
Robert Earl Lawrence was shot in the stomach by Dothan Police Sergeant Adrianne Woodruff and he bled out on the pavement “on the next to last day of the year” in 2014. His three young children and his girlfriend were in the car–screaming while it happened.
Prior to his death and altercation with police, Lawrence, reportedly a sovereign citizen, was just trying to help the dog his family found near the local Walmart by taking it to the Dothan Animal Shelter.
But Lawrence’s attempt to help quickly went askew.
“The receptionist told Lawrence that they accepted dogs only from residents of Houston County,” the court notes. “He told her that he was from nearby Geneva County but had found the dog in Houston County. She agreed to take the dog but asked for his identification. He refused to provide it, claiming that being required to do so would violate his federal privacy rights.”
A brief argument ensued and Woodruff entered the room–reiterating the shelter’s policy about accepting strays and advising Lawrence to fill out an intake form. He declined and left the shelter, “carrying the dog with him,” saying he would just leave the animal on the road.
Woodruff followed Lawrence out and warned him that dumping the dog would be considered a crime. She also copied down his tag number–in line with a policy for people who threaten to dump animals the shelter refuses to take in. As Lawrence got into his car, Woodruff grabbed him from behind and said “You’re not leaving.”
A police officer who allegedly kneed a suspect 20 to 30 times in the eye after the man had been restrained is entitled to qualified immunity and thus cannot be sued over the incident, a federal court confirmed Monday.
Charles McManemy, who law enforcement suspected was making a drug delivery, claims that Deputy Bruce Tierney of Iowa’s Butler County Sheriff’s Office violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force after McManemy had surrendered with at least four cops already on top of him. Following the incident, McManemy says he suffered lasting damage in his eye with increased light sensitivity and “floaters.” But while a majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that Tierney did indeed violate McManemy’s rights, his suit “fails for a different reason: the absence of a clearly established right.”
The system is rigged, the government is corrupt, and “we the people” continue to waste our strength by fighting each other rather than standing against the tyrant in our midst.
Because the system is rigged, because the government is corrupt, and because “we the people” remain polarized and divided, the police state will keep winning and “we the people” will keep losing.
Because the system is rigged and the U.S. Supreme Court—the so-called “people’s court”—has exchanged its appointed role as a gatekeeper of justice for its new role as maintainer of the status quo, there will be little if no consequences for the cops who brutalize and no justice for the victims of police brutality.
Because the system is rigged, there will be no consequences for police who destroyed a private home by bombarding it with tear gas grenades during a SWAT team raid gone awry, or for the cop who mistakenly shot a 10-year-old boy after aiming for and missing the non-threatening family dog, or for the arresting officer who sicced a police dog on a suspect who had already surrendered.
This is how unarmed Americans keep dying at the hands of militarized police.