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Lawsuit Continues Against LAPD Officer in Shooting Death

Paulette Smith v. Edward Agdeppa, et al. Docket: 20-56254, Opinion Date: December 30, 2022. A police officer (Officer) in Los Angeles, shot and killed a man during a failed arrest in the men’s locker room of a gym. Before the district court, the Officer maintained that he killed the man because the man was pummeling the Officer’s partner, and the Officer feared the man’s next blow would kill her. The Officer also claimed that he yelled “stop” before shooting, but no such warning can be heard on the officers’ body-cam recordings. The man’s mother sued the Officer for his allegedly unreasonable use of deadly force. The district court denied the Officers’ motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds, and the Officer timely appealed. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying, on summary judgment, qualified immunity to the Officer. The court held that the district court properly denied the Officer’s request for qualified immunity for two reasons. First, the district court recognized that a reasonable jury could reject the police officer’s account of the shooting because there were significant discrepancies between their versions of events and other evidence in the record. Second, the court wrote that it has long held that the Fourth Amendment requires officers to warn before using deadly force when practicable. The defense cannot argue that it was not possible for the Officer to give the man a deadly force warning because the Officer’s sworn statements show that he had time to tell Dorsey to “stop.” Therefore, the district court correctly ruled that a jury could decide that the Officer’s use of deadly force violated clearly established law.

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