U.S. Court: Police Rubber Bullet Shots At Drunk Driver Suspect Excessive


A federal appeals court overturned a jury and found that Waukesha, Wi., police used excessive force when they shot a suspected drunken driver four times with rubber bullets in 2005. reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. One shots caused a six-inch gash in the driver’s ankle that required 30 stitches. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a trial judge should have granted Tamara Phillips’ motion for judgment as a matter of law, despite a jury’s verdict in favor of the police.

The case now heads back to federal district court for a hearing on the extent of Phillips’ damages and attorney fees. “In an excessive force case, while we accept the factual inferences made by the jury, we must independently review the jury’s interpretation of what is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment,” wrote Judge Ann Claire Williams, joined by Judge Diane Wood. Dissenting Judge John Daniel Tinder wrote that he believed a jury could have found the force was reasonable. Phillips’ attorney, Mark P. Murphy, said the incident was a turning point in his client’s life. “She’s very grateful to the judges,” he said. “The easy, political thing to do would have been to say, ‘The jury has spoken.’ ”

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