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North Las Vegas Police Department, et al. v. Sheila Conatser, et al.

Close Date: 03/19/2012
Topic(s): Court Procedure, Federal Jurisdiction, and Appellate Jurisdiction
Qualified Immunity and Sovereign Immunity
Docket: 11-540

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Description:

Public Citizen represented the parents of Phillip Conatser, who was shot and killed in an encounter with local police. The Conatsers sued the police for excessive force, and the officers sought immunity for their actions. At the heart of the dispute was whether the officers were justified in shooting Phillip: they claimed he charged them with a knife, but two neighbors who witnessed the incident testified Phillip did not threaten the officers. The district court denied the officers immunity because of the factual dispute, which must be decided by a jury. The court of appeals held the officers were not entitled to an immediate appeal of the denial of immunity because of the factual dispute. The officers asked the Supreme Court to the case, and in February 2012, Public Citizen filed a brief opposing Supreme Court review, arguing that the lower courts were correct that the factual dispute should be decided by a jury rather than preemptively resolved in the officers’ favor by judges on an appeal of the denial of immunity. On March 19, 2012, the Supreme Court denied review.