Torres v. Madrid

Full title: ROXANNE TORRES, Plaintiff – Appellant, v. JANICE MADRID; RICHARD…

Court: UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT

No. 18-2134

Date published: Apr 28, 2021

Fact:

  • Roxanne Torres was shot by police officers Janice Madrid and Richard Williamson while she was driving away from an apartment complex where police were executing an arrest warrant. Despite being struck by two bullets, Torres managed to drive away and was not arrested until the next day.
  • Torres sued the officers, alleging excessive force and conspiracy.

Issue:

  • The pivotal issue was whether there was a Fourth Amendment seizure when the force used by the police to seize a person failed to terminate that person’s flight.
  • Specifically, the question was whether shooting at Torres with the intent to restrain her movement constituted a seizure under the Fourth Amendment, even though she continued to flee after being shot.

Decision:

  • The Supreme Court held that the application of physical force to the body of a person with the intent to restrain constitutes a seizure under the Fourth Amendment, even if the force does not succeed in subduing the person.
  • Consequently, the Court overruled the previous precedent set by Brooks v. Gaenzle, which held that no seizure could occur unless there was physical touch or a show of authority that terminated the suspect’s movement.
  • The Supreme Court concluded that the officers seized Torres by shooting her with the intent to restrain her movement.
  • As a result, the Court vacated the previous decision and remanded the case for further proceedings to determine the reasonableness of the seizure, the damages caused by the seizure, and the officers’ entitlement to qualified immunity.

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