SCOTUS tosses $4 million award for homeless couple shot by police
By Chris Eger
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously agreed that sheriff’s deputies used reasonable force when in a 2010 shooting that left two wounded.
Falling back on a longstanding objective reasonableness argument in use-of-force case law, the high court overturned a previous ruling in the case of Angel Mendez and Jennifer Garcia, between them shot 15 times by Los Angeles County deputies conducting a search.
Two deputies, Christopher Conley and Jennifer Pederson, were part of a larger force of officers looking for a dangerous parolee when they came across the couple living inside a primitive shack behind the property being searched. Without a warrant or announcing their presence, the officers opened the door to the shack which prompted a napping Mendez, who had a BB gun on his futon that he used to kill rats with, to stand. Conely yelled, “Gun!” and the deputies opened fire, hitting both individuals. Mendez, shot 14 times, had to have a leg amputated while Garcia, pregnant at the time of the shooting and hit once in the back, feared to lose her child.
Citing excessive force and civil rights allegations, the couple sued the county in 2011 in federal court, with U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald in