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Hedger v. Graves

Police officers entered Ronnie Graves’s home after a call from his grandmother, who reported that he was mentally unstable and had attached her. The officers found Mr. Graves sitting motionless in a bathtub, his legs dangling over the edge of the tub and his eyes staring straight ahead. They knew that Mr. Graves no longer possessed the blade of the knife he had forty minutes prior, which they had already obtained from his grandmother. Nonetheless, when Mr. Graves raised his arm, holding a black plastic object, one officer shot at Mr. Graves with a handgun and another with an AR-15, hitting him in the face. After observing that Mr. Graves’s “face was hanging off,” thinking that Mr. Graves was most likely in shock, and noting that his colleagues were unharmed, another officer tased Mr. Graves with the full charge of his taser, letting him “ride” the taser “for five” seconds.

Mr. Graves later sued the officers, and they successfully moved the district court to dismiss the case based on qualified immunity. After the Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal in part and reversed in part, the officers petitioned the Supreme Court for review. Assisting as co-counsel before the Supreme Court, we prepared the opposition to the petition. The brief explained that the court of appeals correctly held that the existence of material issues of fact require determination by a jury before a court can address questions of law regarding the reasonability of the officers’ use of force and that the court properly identified the clearly established law relevant to Mr. Graves’s claim of excessive force. The Court denied the petition.