Pitzer v. Tenorio

Topic(s): 
Protecting Constitutional Rights and Requirements
Qualified Immunity and Sovereign Immunity
Docket Number: 
15-795
Documents:
Case Description: 

Officer Brian Pitzer shot Russell Tenorio as he stood in his living room holding a small kitchen knife loosely at his side, approximately ten feet away from the nearest officer. Tenorio had not threatened to hurt anyone but himself, had not made any movements toward anyone with the knife, and was given less than three seconds to comply with Pitzer’s command to drop the knife.

Tenorio sued Pitzer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Pitzer violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force. The district court denied Pitzer’s motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed, agreeing with the district court that there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether Pitzer’s conduct violated the Fourth Amendment, and that, if the factual issues were resolved in Tenorio’s favor, Pitzer would have violated clearly established law regarding the use of deadly force.

PCLG is co-counsel for Tenorio in the Supreme Court and filed a brief in opposition arguing that the Tenth Circuit’s opinion was correct and consistent with Supreme Court precedent and the decisions of other courts of appeals.  The petition was denied.