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The Supreme Court Rules in Favor of an 83-year-old Woman in a Case of Manhandling By California Police 

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There are widespread reports of police brutality in mainstream media. In most of such reports, the judiciary often cites immunity to excuse men of the police force.

Police tailing a car
Source: Ruin Raider/Flickr

However, in this exceptional case, the Supreme Court leans in favor of Elise Brown, an 83-year-old California woman. 

More accurately, Brown’s unpleasant experience with California Police took place in 2019, and she was 83 at the time. According to the plaintiff’s lawyer, officers of the Chico California Police Department pulled Ms. Brown over in 2019.

She was driving her Blue Oldsmobile when police instructed her to stop. Brown complied. Upon approaching Brown’s vehicle, with guns in hand, the police officers ordered her to step out of the car. The officers then put cuffs on her and made the older woman go on her knees. Brown weighed 117 pounds at the time.

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Afterward, Brown, with the help of her lawyer, filed a lawsuit against the California Police. The federal appeal court that heard Brown’s case decided to waive the police-qualified immunity. 

Interestingly, the Supreme Court equally upheld that ruling, meaning the judgment may eventually favor the plaintiff. 

Qualified immunity is a law that protects men of the police force from civil rights litigations. Of course, the law prevents judicial anarchy and discourages individuals who do not like an officer’s face or voice pitch from filing a lawsuit.

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While qualified immunity serves as a firewall against flimsy and unnecessary lawsuits, some officers have exploited it to misbehave when interacting with members of the public.

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However, although many of the civil rights cases against the police often go to the trash, there are some occasional exceptions. Brown’s case against the California Police is an example.

In defense of their action, the indicted officers cited that they were following standard procedures. Unfortunately, to the officers, Brown’s car looked very much like another recently stolen one.

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In another attempt to defend their treatment of Brown, the Chino Police Department cited previous traffic stops involving stolen vehicles. According to them, such stops are usually aggressive and may require the use of firearms to enforce the law.

Finally, the officers involved in the Brown case claimed that she looked like someone in her 50s or 60s. So, the officers said Brown did not appear “to need any accommodation due to health or frailty.”

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Irrespective of the excuses, Brown’s lawyer is pleading the 4th Amendment. He said the Chico Police Department’s treatment of his client left her “terrified, humiliated, and emotionally traumatized. That conduct was not reasonable; it was extraordinarily dangerous and flatly inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on excessive force.”

So, Ms. Brown has no problem with the police officers discharging their law enforcement responsibility. However, she is not happy with the brute force and humiliation that the officers unleashed on her person.

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