Smith v. Attocknie
Aaron Palmer was killed when deputy sheriff Kenneth Cherry barged into his home without knocking and immediately shot him in the chest. Cherry had come to Aaron’s house to serve a year-old bench warrant on Aaron’s father, who did not live with Aaron and was not in the house when Aaron was killed. Aaron’s widow, Nicole Attocknie, filed suit against Cherry and Sheriff Shannon Smith, who had appointed Cherry deputy but did not provide him with any training or supervision. Cherry and Smith moved for summary judgment, contending that they were entitled to qualified immunity. The district court denied the motions, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed. Smith sought review in the Supreme Court, where Public Citizen is co-counsel for Attocknie. Our brief in opposition explained that none of the questions presented in Smith’s petition were in fact presented by the case, that the court of appeals had authority to decide qualified immunity, and that the lower courts correctly determined that Smith is not entitled to qualified immunity. The petition was denied in May 2016.