Monday, March 31, 2014

Lal v. California (9th Cir. - March 31, 2014)

You can take police on a high-speed chase on the 101 for 45 minutes at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour.  You can tell the police that you want to kill yourself or have them shoot you.  When the cops disable your vehicle with a spike strip, you can get out of your car and scream at them "just shoot me, just shoot me".  You can pick up a large rock, repeatedly bash it against your forehead, and then start throwing rocks at the officers.  You can even try to pretend that your cell phone is a pistol, and try to trick the cops into shooting you by "firing" it at them.  To which the police will hopefully respond the same way that they did here:  By screaming to the other officers not to shoot you because it's a phone, not a gun.

But when you take your football-sized rock and start advancing on the officers, getting with a few feet of them, at that point, they're not going to be able to wait for the K-9 they called for backup.  You'll get your wish, and they may well feel compelled to shoot and kill you.

So congratulations.  You've "won".

But when your estate sues the officers for alleged excessive force, well, that's a different story.  That one's going to be an unambiguous loss.  Qualified immunity.

Or, to put it differently, in the game of life, "Gun Beats Rock".