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Summary Judgment in Handcuffing Case Reversed

On October 19, 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit vacated a grant of summary judgment for police in an excessive force case.

Robert Fisher accidentally shot himself in the stomach in a failed suicide attempt. Officers from the Las Cruces Police Department responded. Despite Fisher’s obvious injuries, the officers ordered him to lie down on his stomach. Fisher refused. A female officer then forced Fisher down on his stomach and handcuffed Fisher behind his back. Fisher had asked that he not be handcuffed in this manner due to his injuries, but the officer ignored him.

Fisher later brought suit against the City of Las Cruces and the officers who responded. Fisher alleged that the officers used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The district court denied relief, granting summary judgment for the defendants.

The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded. Construing the facts in the light most favorable to Fisher, the court held that “a reasonable juror could conclude that he was not resisting arrest, but was only pleading to be handled and handcuffed in a fashion that did not exacerbate his injuries.” Summary judgment was this improper.

See: Fisher v. The City of Las Cruces, 584 F.3d 888 (10th Cir. 2009).

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Related legal case

Fisher v. The City of Las Cruces