With the death toll from police brutality continuing to mount, the US Supreme Court on Monday issued a decision expanding the authoritarian doctrine of “qualified immunity,” which shields police officers from legal accountability.
When a civil rights case is summarily dismissed by a judge on the grounds of “qualified immunity,” the case is legally terminated. It never goes to trial before a jury and is never decided on its constitutional merits.
In March of 2010, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Chadrin Mullenix climbed onto an overpass with a rifle and, disobeying a direct order from his supervisor, fired six shots at a vehicle that the police were pursuing. Mullenix was not in any danger, and his supervisor had told him to wait until other officers tried to stop the car using spike strips. Four shots struck Israel Leija, Jr., killing him and causing the car, which was going 85 miles per hour, to crash. After the shooting, Mullenix boasted to his supervisor, “How’s that for proactive?”