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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, February 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Order Withdrawn in|Cop Immunity Dispute

(CN) - The 9th Circuit on Wednesday withdrew a ruling that found a California Highway Patrol officer blameless for the death of a woman he shot 12 times.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco ordered the parties in the case to submit supplemental briefs addressing a number of issues, including "what degree of deference, if any, should this court give the jury's implicit finding that defendant-appellant used deadly force with the purpose to cause harm unrelated to a legitimate law enforcement objective, and if deference is due, how does this affect the availability of qualified immunity in this case?"

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit judges ruled in 2011 that highway patrol officer Stephen Markgraf was not liable for the death of Karen Eklund, who stole a car and led police on a high-speed chase through the streets of San Francisco in 2006.

When Eklund finally crashed in a cul-de-sac, Markgraf emptied his weapon into the passenger-side window, killing the mother of two.

After her daughters sued, the District Court found that Markgraf had used improper deadly force. But the 9th Circuit later reversed, finding that Markgraf was eligible for qualified immunity.

"Nothing in the universe of cases prior to Markgraf's conduct would have alerted him that his split-second decision in dealing with someone who had just led police on a dangerous high-speed chase and who was using her car as a weapon shocked the conscience," Judge Pamela Rymer wrote in the ruling.

The appeals court also withdrew a 2011 reversal of a consumer's breach-of -warranty case in Santa Ana, Calif., against Porsche Cars North America and others.

In September 2011, the court overturned a decision compelling arbitration.

Neither ruling may be further cited as precedent, the court said.

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