Attocknie v. Smith, 2014 WL _________ (E.D.Okla. 2014) (citation pending), the court held that the doctrine of qualified immunity does not apply to Bosh claims arising under state law involving excessive force. Qualified immunity is a doctrine that applies to federal civil rights claims that says if the law was not clearly established at the time an officer violated your constitutional rights, then he cannot be held liable, even though the court has recognized that a violation of your rights has occurred.
Qualified immunity allows government agents to avoid accountability for their actions, it leaves the victim without any recourse, and if the court holds the law was not clearly established, it prevents the court from recognizing that a constitutional right exists in the context of that case. Consequently, the law remains unsettled, which perpetuates a cycle of constitutional violations where nobody is ever held accountable for repeatedly committing the same constitutional violations.
By holding that qualified immunity does not apply to Bosh claims, the federal court opened the door for situations where an individual government agent may held liable under state law even if he escapes liability on the federal claims through qualified immunity. The decision also recognizes a key distinction unique to Bosh claims, which is the liability of the employer, who remains responsible for the actions of its employee.
If you have questions about Bosh claims, excessive force, or police misconduct, contact an injury lawyer at Bryan & Terrill Law, 918-935-2777.