Did San Diego Sheriffs Use Excessive Force When They Killed a Suicidal Suspect?

On December 2, 2013, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of CHELSEY HAYES V. COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, Case #09-55644 , heard this civil rights Complaint brought under the Federal statute 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California law wherein a minor daughter alleged violations of her 14th and 4th Amendment rights and her deceased father’s 4th Amendment rights when San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies acted negligently in shooting and killing her father who allegedly was suicidal and wielding a knife during a response to a domestic violence call.

 In the underlying case, the Court said there was no evidence the sheriff’s fired their guns for any other purpose than self-defense and, therefore affirmed the District Court’s Decision by declaring there was no violation of plaintiff’s rights under the 14th Amendment. On the other hand, the Court reversed the lower Court after it determined a jury could conclude the use of deadly force by the sheriffs was not objectively reasonable and that under California law supported a basis for a wrongful death claim.

A compelling argument was made on behalf of Hayes that the sheriffs could have avoided the incident by obtaining more information about the suspect or requesting a psychiatric emergency response team (“PERT”) when the first deputy responded to a domestic violence call at a neighbor’s house and learned there had been no physical altercation, and before the second deputy arrived and they both entered the home. At that point it became a matter of whether the officers used excessive force.

The above reported Decision can be found at the following link: https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/12/02/09-55644.pdf


Be Safe and Vigilant During This Holiday

This is the time of the year when there are many holidays and we will be celebrating, most often with family and friends. 

However, the period of time between Thanksgiving and the New Year can also be the most dangerous days and nights of the year, whether on the neighborhood streets &/or highways.

Unfortunately, we all seem to have more stress from our work, family and societal pressures. Many individuals are tempted to have an alcoholic drink by invitations to lunch or dinner, to parties, and to holiday gatherings that when accepted can at times lead to impaired judgment. It can also be a stressful time due to the continuing and escalating expenses of living; our limited finances; as well as the expectations we impose on ourselves, and others impose on us (even if only because of our perception). Lastly, we are faced with the days getting darker much sooner in the fall and winter, which factor can also increase the risk of accidents.

Given all of the above, during each holiday season we want to be mindful of the safety of our family and loved ones, ourselves and countless others and, therefore, to be extra vigilant when we go and leave places and are on the road. 

Fire Officials Suggest Replacing Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are like having a spare tire in a car: you may never need or use it, but no one should drive a vehicle without a fully inflated spare tire. Most smoke and carbon monoxide alarms only need a battery to operate, but there are hard wired models as well. There currently are combination models that serve for both purposes, and many with a 10 year lithium ion battery. It appears these products have become more sophisticated and, therefore, seem to be more reliable. You can purchase some models that are interconnected so when one senses a problem all of them go off; newer models can be purchased that do not “chirp,” but actually have a voice alarm, and yet others have a strobe light that flashes as a warning.

Remember, it is important to use the “test” button on a regular basis and to change the battery at least one time a year unless you feel at ease with those that the manufacturer designates a 5 or 10 year battery. In addition, you should select the best date you will remember to change the battery, such as holiday (July 4th, Thanksgiving or New Years’ day, etc.). These products also have to be clean; and, when dust and debris accumulates, the alarm may not work or be delayed to the point it is not safe. All of the above factors help make your residence safer even if no smoking is allowed &/or you have a newer home.

Marine killed in fire during exercise at base

One Marine was killed and four were injured at Twentynine Palms during a training exercise. An Amphibious Assault Vehicle caught fire during the exercise.

The family may have a wrongful death claim if timely filed as the horrific injury may be a result of a product defect, or mechanical failure.  Choosing to immediately retain an attorney with experience in product liability cases can allow the investigators and forensic experts that would be employed by counsel to inspect the amphibious vehicle that caught on fire. Our attorneys use a team approach to evaluate and determine precisely and in what way the vehicle was dangerous, unsafe or defective. We both know and understand that no amount of money can replace a loved one or fully compensate for the loss of a human life; however,  we also know the family of the marine deserves the right to collect for this loss, and to send a message to the vehicle manufacturer to be accountable and so another such catastrophe does not occur now or in the future.

Shooting may restart debate over military security

For staffers at the Washington Navy Yard, there are no metal detectors or pat-downs when they enter the building. The recent rampage at the Navy Yard is bringing the question of security up for debate again.

The fact that the suspected gunman was able to walk into the facility while he was heavily armed is disturbing. Something must be changed to protect the people who work in military facilities.

Restricting or making guns and/or rifles unlawful is not the solution, even though some pundits are using this as another tool to infringe on the rights granted to everyone under the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. In this case, it has been reported the shooter had PTSD from his previous military service. That should have been detected and treated, but apparently was not. It is far more effective to require metal detectors at all government buildings and operations rather than impose new gun laws on the entire population of the United States.


Fewer teens, more seniors behind the wheel

In California, fewer teens are driving and seniors are hanging onto their driver’s licenses.

The number of drivers age 85 and older has jumped by 75 percent over the last decade, because people are living longer, healthier lives. Studies have also shown that drivers over 85 are most likely to be at fault in a car accident, and more likely to be injured. Teens are more likely to to be involved in crashed with injuries, and twice as likely to get traffic tickets, studies show.

One big factor in the decline of teen drivers is the difficulty of getting a license, and the restrictions placed on teen drivers. Now many people are opting to get their licenses at age 19 or 20 instead of at 16.

These restrictions will hopefully help keep the roads safer and cut down on reckless driving.


Judge approved request to force-feed inmates

A federal judge approved a request to force-feed California inmates if needed.

It is the seventh week of a statewide prison hunger strike. Since July 8, almost 70 prisoners have refused the prison-issued meals, and officials fear for their welfare. If prisoners have signed do-not-resuscitate requests, policy is to let them starve to death. However, Judge Thelton Henderson gave blanket authority to feed inmates whose health might be failing.

Is this a violation of inmates’ constitutional rights? On one hand, the hunger strike means that the prison will have to spend more time and resources on inmates whose health is failing, and resources at prisons are already stretched thin. But on the other, the prisoners have a right to strike, and given that they are imprisoned, the ways in which they can express their displeasure and make themselves heard are few.



Shark attacks teen surfer

A 16-year-old surfer sustained leg injuries after the second shark attack in less than a week in Hawaii.

It strains credulity that the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources only closed certain beaches after there was a second attack in less than one week. One could argue they should have been more vigilant and kept in daily contact with the US Coast Guard who no doubt would have been in communication with boaters who might have seen sharks in the water (if not on their own). The article failed to elaborate on the victim of this attack or the others, and the author did not interview anyone to add to the relevance of the story.



Day care closed after 2-year-old sickened by marijuana

Roubena Hartounian was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment and neglect at her day-care center, Bina’s Family Child Care, after a 2-year-old under her care was hospitalized for being under the influence of marijuana.

City officials discovered that the residential day-care had no power, and there were rat droppings scattered inside. The police turned away eight people who arrived and tried to drop off their children.

It is unfortunate that an adult would put many children in a dangerous situation.


Number of cheerleading injuries increase

Cheerleading now accounts for 60% to 70% of all women’s sports injuries.

This is partially due to the greatly increased number of predominantly female cheerleaders, and partly because cheerleaders are now asked to perform many stunt-like routines, such as human pyramids and tumbling. These activities bring with them a greater risk of injury than simply waving a pom-pom.

Cheerleading injuries can be disabling or even fatal, especially as the cheerleaders grow older and learn more complicated routines. Though it is exciting to see cheerleading grow more rigorous and be treated as a sport equal to other team sports, it is also disheartening to hear that so many injuries come of it. Cheerleaders should remember not to push themselves beyond their abilities, and to warm up sufficiently before engaging in any routines or stunts. It seems more planning and preparation, the use of adequate mats and pads, as well as increasing the level of proper and continuous education and training of instructors must be given greater emphasis.


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