(CN) – The 9th Circuit upheld the exoneration of two San Francisco police officers who claimed they acted in self defense when fatally shooting a man who sought “suicide by cop.”
Cammerin Boyd was shot and killed by San Francisco police in May 2004 after leading them on a high-speed chase following an attempt to kidnap two women.
Boyd’s mother and his two daughters filed a wrongful death suit in 2007. City attorneys argued that Boyd wanted police to shoot him in what’s known as “suicide by cop.” A jury found for the city and cleared the two officers of liability.
Boyd’s mother and daughters appealed, arguing that Boyd was trying to surrender when he was gunned down.
In siding with the jury, the San Francisco-based appellate panel found expert testimony on the “suicide by cop” theory convincing.
City attorneys presented evidence suggesting that Boyd wanted to be killed by police officers, including a rap song and a newspaper article regarding the murder of an Oakland police officer in his car. The rap song, written by Boyd, advocated the murder of police officers.
Additionally, three days before the shooting, Oakland police arrested Boyd for driving his mother’s Mercedes recklessly through city streets. After his arrest, Boyd was quoted as screaming at the officers to “kill me” and calling them “filthy white racists.”
The court also cited evidence from a 1993 car crash in which Boyd lost his legs after ramming into a light pole while fleeing from a California Highway Patrol officer.
The 9th Circuit said the lower court incorrectly allowed the rap lyrics, for they had no “probative value regarding (Boyd’s) alleged activities … and were unfairly prejudicial in light of their offensive nature.”
But, the family was not prejudiced by the admission of the lyrics because “it is more probable than not that the jury would have found for the (city) even without their admission.”