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
COMMENTARY BY SAMUEL SPITAL, CRIMINAL HOMICIDE AND DEFENSE LAWYER
“On February 4, 2013, the Orange County Registrar published a digital article in which a husband was arrested in connection with a cold case investigation for the death of his wife about nine years ago. According to the story, this was a brutal murder in which the wife had her throat slashed and her head was nearly decapitated. All of this happened in the early morning hours when the 17 year old son was tied up and placed in a his bedroom closet by another suspect. It was further revealed that the husband had previously pled guilty to spousal battery and attempting to dissuade a witness (the victim in the current criminal case), then being sentenced to one year in County Jail and formal probation for five years.
Either the author did not interview the investigating officers more thoroughly or the Police and District Attorney declined to provide any further details as to the underlying evidence that led them to arrest the defendant for the vicious killing after so many years had intervened. Defense counsel will undoubtedly perform a painstaking investigation given the substantial intervening period of time from the incident and the current filing of the criminal charges, as well as raise various pre-trial motions and to establish the defense strategy.
It is interesting to note the husband was not arrested after so many years even though the the spouse is generally considered the first and often the primary person of interest in a murder; when this nexus is coupled with the previous conviction for domestic violence along with the type of and manner of killing, there would seem to have been other circumstantial evidence as well to link the husband to the crime even if no eye witness, including but not limited to DNA. However, the spouse may have had an alibi, he may not have used the knife in question and/or his participation in the crime as a co-conspirator could not have previously been established beyond any reasonable doubt. If the defendant does not have the means to retain private counsel, a Deputy Public Defender will be appointed.”