Davis v. City of Las Vegas
|Davis v. City of Las Vegas|
|Court||United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit|
|Argued||October 19 2006|
February 28 2007
|Citation(s)||478 F.3d 1048 (2007)|
|Prior action(s)||United States District Court for the District of Nevada|
|Police officer not entitled to qualified immunity for "swinging a handcuffed man into a wall head-first multiple times and then punching him in the face while he lay face-down on the ground, and breaking his neck as a result"|
|Judge(s) sitting||Stephen Reinhardt, Sidney Runyan Thomas, Judges; John T. Noonan, Jr., Senior Judge|
|Majority||Reinhardt, joined by Noonan, Thomas|
|U.S. Const. amend. IV|
Davis v. City of Las Vegas, 478 F.3d 1048 (9th Cir. 2007), was a case in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit determined whether a Las Vegas, Nevada police officer utilized excessive force when making an arrest.
Background and Opinion of the Court
On November 7, 2001, Frankie Davis, was handcuffed by security at the Las Vegas Club Hotel & Casino after he was found in an area of the casino that was not open to the public. When a police officer arrived, Davis refused to consent to a search; at that point, the officer then "slammed him head-first into a wall several times, pinned him against the floor, and punched him in the face." As a result of these actions, Davis suffered a broken neck.
Davis filed a lawsuit, arguing that the officer's excessive use of force violated the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, but the officer alleged that he was entitled to qualified immunity. The United States District Court for the District of Nevada granted the officer's motion for summary judgment based on his qualified immunity claim, but on appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed. In an opinion written by Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt, the Court held that the officer was not entitled to qualified immunity because "any reasonable officer" in the same position would have known that "swinging a handcuffed man into a wall head-first multiple times and then punching him in the face while he lay face-down on the ground, and breaking his neck as a result, was unnecessary and excessive."
Commentary and analysis
In its summary of the case, the McQuillin Municipal Law Report stated that the Court "had no question" that the officer was not entitled to qualified immunity. University of Georgia School of Law professor Michael L. Wells argued that in Davis, the Ninth Circuit assumed a role "between judge and jury" by making an independent assessment of the "reasonableness" of the officer's actions. In the Ninth Circuit's 2010 opinion in Luchtel v. Hagemann, the court cited Davis as a case that affirmed the "continuing viability" of circuit precedent that recognized "causing fractures and dislocating shoulders while handcuffing a suspect is excessive force."
- Davis v. City of Las Vegas, 478 F.3d 1048, 1051 (9th Cir. 2007).
- Davis, 478 F.3d at 1051.
- Davis, 478 F.3d at 1051 (Davis "remained handcuffed throughout his encounter" and "was unarmed at all times").
- Davis, 478 F.3d at 1051.
- Davis, 478 F.3d at 1051 (Davis filed the lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983).
- Davis, 478 F.3d at 1051, 1058.
- Davis, 478 F.3d at 1057 (internal citations omitted).
- 25 No. 4 McQuillin Mun. Law Rep. 6.
- Michael L. Wells, Scott v. Harris and the Role of the Jury in Constitutional Litigation, 29 Rev. Litig. 65, 120 (2009).
- Luchtel v. Hagemann, 623 F.3d 975, 990 n.5 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Hansen v. Black, 885 F.2d 642, 645 (9th Cir.1989)).
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