Petitioners are seeking to amend Section 1983 to eliminate qualified immunity as a defense and make the Fourth Amendment’s objective reasonableness standard less burdensome. Currently, in cases where an officer claims they used force because an individual was holding a weapon, the plaintiff has to prove that a reasonable officer could not have concluded that the weapon posed a risk. Unfortunately, courts often allow officers to justify deadly shootings on the basis of hypothetical possibilities even when there is no supporting evidence.
Lawsuits brought under Section 1983 with clear facts and meritorious claims are often dismissed due to qualified immunity or the burdensome objective reasonableness standard. There is no justification for the doctrine of qualified immunity in common law, historical precedent, or public interest, and the Fourth Amendment’s objective reasonableness standard creates a heavy burden for plaintiffs to carry to prove excessive force.
This brief outlines NPAP's support of the Petitioners’ request that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) instruct the United States to amend Section 1983 to end qualified immunity and amend the standard for excessive force claims under the Fourth Amendment.