Civil Rights Complaint Alleging 4th Amendment Violation in Death of Man with Bipolar Disorder Dismissed

Johnson v. City of Memphis, 617 F.3d 864 (6th Cir. 2010)

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s dismissal of a § 1983 complaint brought by the widow of a man with bipolar disorder against two city police officers alleging violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unlawful search and seizure that resulted in his death. The plaintiff called 911 seeking assistance for her husband, but hung up and left the house before the operator answered. Receiving no response to a follow-up call, the operator dispatched two patrol officers to the house. Upon arrival, the officers found the door open and after announcing their presence and receiving no response, entered the house with their weapons drawn. The man jumped on one officer grabbing his gun; a scuffle ensued; and the plaintiff’s husband was killed. The Court held that the entry met the exigent circumstances emergency aid exception to the 4th Amendment’s prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures based upon the factual circumstances in this case.

Found in DMHL Volume 30 Issue 2