February 25th, 2022
US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
Wilson v. City of Bastrop
Opinion Date: February 21, 2022
Judge: Stuart Kyle Duncan
Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
One of two reports of an armed confrontation at the Eden Apartments identified one perpetrator as “Thomas Johnson,” who was driving a red truck with rims. Officer Green responded and encountered a stationary red truck near an elementary school, which had been closed for months. When Green exited his car, Johnson stepped out holding a semiautomatic pistol with an extended magazine. His brother was driving. Johnson ran toward the school. As vehicles passed nearby, Green drew his weapon and yelled, “Drop the gun!” Johnson continued to run, Green fired at him. Green chased Johnson into an open field and continued to chase Johnson, ordering him to drop the gun and instructing onlookers to lie on the ground. Officer McKinney, at the opposite side of the field, saw Johnson outrunning Green. Johnson changed direction toward a neighborhood. Johnson ignored orders to stop. McKinney fired at Johnson, who continued to flee. Both officers gave chase, repeatedly ordering Johnson to stop and drop the gun. When in range, both officers shot. Johnson fell and dropped his gun. Johnson died on the scene. In a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the court granted the officers summary judgment based on qualified immunity. The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part. The use of deadly force was not constitutionally excessive. The officers could have reasonably believed that Johnson threatened them and others with serious physical harm.
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