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The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is expected to hear a case (County of Los Angeles v. Mendez) that asks the question, “Should officers be held liable when they cause a situation that leads to the use of force?”
At a glance, we can see this will require Causal Argument.
Liability is always a question of causation.
- Did Action A cause the negative Consequence B?
- Did the failure to do A make consequence B more likely?
- Did Situation A prompt Action B which led to negative Consequence C?
Take another look at the question the Court will address:
- Should officers be held liable (are they Responsible for the Consequences)?
- when they cause a situation (when their Action creates a Situation)?
- that leads to the use of force (if the Situation they Caused Leads to Consequences)?
The Bald Narrative
Two armed Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies, guns drawn, enter a shed they know to be occupied, without knocking. Angel Mendez and Jennifer Garcia were lying on their futon inside. Mendez sat up. As he did he moved the BB gun he kept nearby to shoot pests. The deputies fired 15 bullets at him and Garcia, severely injuring both. Mendez later suffered a leg amputation.
The couple won a civil rights suit against LA County and the two deputies. The Court awarded money damages and explained that
“at the moment of shooting” the deputies’ use of deadly force was “objectively reasonable” because they reasonably believed “a man was holding a firearm rifle threatening their lives.
But it went further
The county was liable because the deputies had “recklessly provoke[d] a violent confrontation” by not having a search warrant and by not knocking and announcing, and had thus “creat[ed] the situation which caused” the injuries.
Causal Questions for the Court (that’s you)
- Who caused the shooting?
- What factors contributed to the shooting, and can they be considered causes?
- At what point in the causal chain could tragedy have been averted?
- Are there underlying causes?
- Is there a single precipitating or proximate cause?
- Was the lower court’s explanation of the causal chain correct?
- Are the plaintiffs entitled to money damages?
- Should the officers be held liable for the injuries to the plaintiffs?
- How causal was the failure to secure a search warrant?
- How causal was the failure to knock and announce?
- How causal was “moving” the BB gun?
- Supreme Court hears a case on Law Enforcement use of force
- Argument Preview from SCOTUSblog
- County of Los Angeles vs Mendez
- Work as a group.
- Assign readings.
- Search for Cause/Causal/Causation/Proximate/Precipitating
- Search for Underlying/Superceding/Provocation/Excessive/Reasonable
- Search for Failure/Failing/Implicit Bias/Circumstances/Preceding Circumstances
- Search for Interpret/Reasonably Interpret/Proximate Consequences
- Search for Qualified Immunity/Totality of the Circumstances
- Search for Exigency/Understandable/Reasonably Foreseeable
- Engage in Class Discussion: Group A vs Group B
Should officers be held liable when they cause a situation that leads to the use of force?
Question of causation
Question of liability (responsibility)
By action OR negligence
-causation is very important towards the report of something in world news
-people want to hear the reasoning behind things in order to understand and be receptive to the information being reported
-how important/big the cause of something is determines how important it is to people/news sources all over the world
-It all comes down to how interesting the causation is. If the topic is boring and the causation is boring, it is not going to be newsworthy.
-There are both underlying and proximate causes
-Liability is always a question of causation
-When we say “liability” we are talking about who is responsible, most of the time in a negative way.
The Mendez Case:
-deputies barged into Mendez and Garcia’s shed. Mendez went to pick up a BB gun. Upon him reaching for the gun the officers shot at Mendez and Garcia 15 times. They officers went in without knocking.
-I believe that both sides have fault. Mendez should not have reached for the gun. The officers had no way of knowing if the weapon was a real gun or BB gun. The officers thought their lives were in danger and shot at Mendez and Garcia because of this. On the other hand, the officers should not have barged into the shed unannounced. They did not have a search warrant and did not knock to let the couple know they had arrived. By them entering the shed unannounced, they provoked Mendez to reach for the gun. The issue here is did Mendez reaching for a BB gun really give causation for the officers to shoot 15 bullets.
-Personally, I feel that if Mendez saw the officers enter and then reached for the gun, he is at fault for what happened. He should not have touched any sort of weapon with armed officers in front of him. Officers have very clear uniforms, and if they appear in front of you, it is not very smart to reach for any type of weapon. Officers have the right to reach for their weapon if you reach for yours, plain and simple.
After discussing this with my classmates, I feel that the shooting was actually the officers’ fault. They should not have fired 15 shots at these two individuals. They officers did not knock or make their entry known, which they should have before entering the shed.
-the chart on the US spending on space corresponds to the chart of the amount of Americans who die commit suicide by strangling, hanging or suffocation.
-The number of people who eat cheese is very similar to the number of people who die getting tangled in their bed sheets.
-These are very interesting combinations that correlate which each other because it makes it look like that one causes the other when they are not related at all
-2 pedestrians were killed by cars yesterday and it was all over the news. This was because it was deliberate and the motivation of the driver was the reason that it was on the news. If it were another drunk driver incident it most likely would not make the news because those incidents are common and not as intriguing to us.
-liability is always a question of causation
-we looked at the case of the Supreme Court vs. the Mendez couple who were shot by two police
Began class with some some strange examples of correlation and how it really works. Discussed what really makes the news cause wise. Discussed if what is really news worthy, a drunk driver hitting and killing two people, or someone who intentionally did it. When then went into detail of how and why the latter would make, say, CNN instead of the former. Did a pseudo Supreme Court case for the Mendez trial and read in, discussed, and elaborated on the causes that really factor into the case.
Final replies to Stone money underneath Feedback Please
Liability-who is responsible
Los Angeles vs Mendez case
-police were the main cause of this because they did not knock and that is a main cause to why this happened
-this could have been prevented if they decided to make themselves known and knock before entering
-there are particular causes that could have been prevented like knocking, having a warrant presentable,
-it all leads back to the police if they were able to announce themselves, the people inside could have known to behave accordingly
-the plaintiffs were entitled to money damages because they were shot at excessively
-the police do have a part to be held liable for their injuries, even though they did shoot them, they were doing their job
-the failure for a search warrant is not a huge fail because the owner of the house with this shed in the backyard of his, allowed the officers to go through
-the failure to knock and announce could have been a huge turning point in the how this situation ended
-moving the BB gun could have been done in a different way, he could have told the police when he stood up he had it and was going to move it out the way, they would not have assumed that he had a real firearm to attack them with
Casual Argument due MON 3/27/17
The cause is important for news stories. For example, if two people were killed in a car crash by a drunk driver or someone who fell asleep at the wheel, it probably wouldn’t make the news. If the people were killed because someone deliberately drove through a crowd a people intending to kill them, it would definitely make the news.
Finding a cause can be difficult because there’s usually a chain of events that lead up to the effect. We also have to consider the factors that lead the cause.
Correlation != causation. There are a lot of statistics that are unrelated but correlate. Or they may be related due to a common variable but one does not cause the other.
Responsibility and causation can get messy.
-There is a big difference between causation and correlation. Although it is easy to do on the surface, like with the Nic Cage movies and the number of drownings.
-Causation is important. It was the motivation of the driver that made the “traffic accident” in London into world news.
-“Liability is always a question of causation.” Liability is responsibility.
Did action A cause the negative Consequence B?
Did failure to do A make consequence B more likely?
Did situation A prompt Action B which led to negative Consequence C?
-Causation can be hard to pin down. As seen in the police brutality cases, it can be very difficult to decide who is Liable.
-Examining the minute details of a case to decide who is liable is tedious and confusing.
How important is causation
-the cause of something can affect if it is news worthy or not
-yesterday the london car bombing was news worthy, it was not the fact that two people died from a car accident it was that it was a terroristic threat, if two people died from a drunk driving incident it would not be newsworthy
-liabitlty is always a question of causation
-did action a cause the negative consequence b, did failure to do a make consequence b more lily, or did situation a promo actin b which led to negative consequence c
Menendez SCOTUS case
-did the police have a warrant
-did they announce themselves
-was the owner of the property aware of the police’s presence
-did they show the warrant
-what was the parolee on parole for
-what thin the bb gun look like
-how did mendez pick up the gun
-the moving of the gun is the key
-all these factors play a role what caused the shooting, and if the shooting was warranted
-if the police did everything by the book, and mendez still aimed the book, the police would have a much better case
-since they didn’t do everything by the book, there is a case
– in class today we talked about casual questions to ask in court
-we separated into two groups and read the three articles and each group answered what they thought was right to the casual questions for the court
Nicolas Cage must stop acting to save those who drown. Who would have thought?
Mighty suspicious correlations happening around here.
It all comes down to the motivation of the driver
LA vs. Mendez
Should officers be held liable when they cause a situation that leads to force.
Did A cause the negative consequence B
Did failure to do A make consequence B more likely
Did A prompt action B which led to negative consequence C
Who caused the shooting
what factors contributed
Where could it have been averted
are there underlying causes
is there a single precipitating cause
My notes are kind of lacking due to group activity but it definitely stimulated the mind.
2/3 (You can afford it.)
-causation is the most important when finding a topic for a news article is worthy or not
– the motivation and who is involved is also important
Mendez Court Case
– deputies come in unannounced to the shed
– mendez and garcia live in the shed in the backyard of the house
– deputies didn’t feel they needed to knock do to the shed being already on the property of the house
– garcia was pregnant
-once cops barged in mendez reached for his bb gun out of reaction
– deputies shot them 15 times
– mendez and grarcia won the court case giving them 4 million dollar reward
– failing to knock and announce themselves was the biggest violation
– secondly shooting them 15 times was excessive