Court makes it easier to sue law enforcement in California

June 25, 2023


For decades, a lower court precedent protected law enforcement in California from civil lawsuits based on misconduct committed during an investigation, but that has now changed.

On Thursday, the California Supreme Court reiterated the lawsuit immunity limits for deputies and officers committing wrongdoing while on the job. The justices ruled unanimously that law enforcement can be sued for their misconduct during an investigation.

“While other provisions of the Government Claims Act may confer immunity for certain investigatory actions, section 821.6 does not broadly immunize police officers or other public employees for any and all harmful actions they may take in the course of investigating crime,” Associate Justice Leondra Kruger wrote in the courts’ decisions.

The court overturned a lower-court ruling that determined a widow could not sue Riverside County after deputies left her husband’s body, with his genitals exposed, in the open for eight hours.

In 2017, a neighbor shot and killed José Leon. After deputies arrived at the scene, the shooter continued firing shots. Deputies dragged the victim’s body behind their SUV, causing his pants to fall down, where they left him exposed into the evening hours.

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Good. Break the law, be held accountable. That’s all we can ask for.

Way too often I have witnessed police officers breaking the law. In one situation, I witnessed a former chief of police in Arroyo Grande break the law, and when I called him on it his response was “so sue me” he said, with a laugh, knowing the odds would be stacked in his favor.

When police officers break the law it totally degrades our community. Unfortunately, they do it too often with no serious ramifications. I totally support good police officers, but too often even the good ones look the other way when their colleagues, lie, cheat, and steal.

As far as leaving a corpse uncovered with its genitals publicly displayed, that’s just bad etiquette and shows a lack of human compassion.

The world would be a lot better if police officers, and everyone else followed the golden rule.