Emergent LLP continued its Supreme Court practice today by filing an amicus brief on behalf of the National Police Accountability Project ("NPAP") in County of Los Angeles v. Mendez. This is the fourth case in which Emergent has represented the NPAP before the Supreme Court.
In Mendez, a couple were napping in their home, a small shack behind a larger house, when two officers entered the shack, guns drawn, without a warrant or knocking and announcing their presence. Startled by the entry, and thinking his wife was playing a trick on him, Angel Mendez reached over to grab a BB gun he kept to shoot pests that entered the shack, intending to move it out of the way. The officers, thinking Mr. Mendez had a real gun, and was aiming it towards them, shot him and his pregnant wife repeatedly, resulting in serious injuries for both, and the amputation of his right leg below the knee.
The plaintiffs prevailed at trial, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, ruling that the officers were culpable for having created the situation that led to the shooting. The officers petitioned the Supreme Court, which granted review to determine whether the Ninth Circuit's "provocation rule" was consistent with its earlier Fourth Amendment precedent, and what causation standards to apply when officers shoot people in their homes.
Emergent's brief in support of the Mendez family, which outlines the analysis properly employed by the Supreme Court and other appellate courts to evaluate excessive force claims, and the real-world impacts of the officers' proposed rule on innocent citizens injured or killed by law enforcement, is here. The brief of the officers is here; the Mendez family, here. Emergent counsel Joshua Paulson and founding partner Christopher Wimmer authored the brief in collaboration with civil rights specialists in San Diego, Santa Monica, and Detroit.
Emergent dedicates a significant amount of its time every year to pro bono work. To find out more, contact us.