270 F.3d 852 (9th Cir. 2001), 00-56520, Martinez v. City of Oxnard

Docket Nº:00-56520
Citation:270 F.3d 852
Party Name:OLIVERIO MARTINEZ, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, v. CITY OF OXNARD; OXNARD POLICE DEPARTMENT; ART LOPEZ, CHIEF; MARIA PENA; ANDREW SALINAS; RON ZAVALA, DEFENDANTS, AND BEN CHAVEZ, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
Case Date:October 30, 2001
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 852

270 F.3d 852 (9th Cir. 2001)

OLIVERIO MARTINEZ, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

CITY OF OXNARD; OXNARD POLICE DEPARTMENT; ART LOPEZ, CHIEF; MARIA PENA; ANDREW SALINAS; RON ZAVALA, DEFENDANTS,

AND

BEN CHAVEZ, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

No. 00-56520

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

October 30, 2001

Argued and Submitted June 11, 2001

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Alan E. Wisotsky, Oxnard, California, for the defendants-appellant.

R. Samuel Paz, Los Angeles, California, for the plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California; Florence Marie Cooper, District Judge Presiding. D.C. No. CV-98-09313-FMC.

Before: Wardlaw, Paez and Tallman, Circuit Judges.

TALLMAN, Circuit Judge:

We must determine whether a police officer who conducts a coercive, custodial interrogation of a suspect who is being treated for life-threatening, police-inflicted gunshot wounds may invoke qualified immunity in a civil suit for damages under 42 U.S.C. &#167 1983 (2001). Under the circumstances of this case, we hold he may not.

I.

On November 28, 1997, police officers Maria Pena and Andrew Salinas were investigating narcotics activity near a vacant lot in a residential area of Oxnard, California. While questioning one individual, they heard a bicycle approaching on the darkened path that traversed the lot. Officer Salinas ordered the rider, Oliverio Martinez, to stop, dismount, spread his legs, and place his hands behind his head. Martinez complied.

During a protective pat-down frisk, Officer Salinas discovered a knife in Mr. Martinez's waistband. Officer Salinas alerted his partner and pulled Martinez's hand from behind his head to apply handcuffs. Officer Salinas claims that Martinez pulled away from him. Martinez alleges that he offered no resistance. Either way, Officer Salinas tackled Martinez and a struggle ensued.

Both officers testified that during the struggle Martinez did not attempt to hit or kick them; Officer Salinas struck the only blow. The officers maintain that Martinez drew Officer Salinas's gun and pointed it at them. Martinez alleges that Officer Salinas began to draw his gun and that Martinez grabbed Officer Salinas's hand to prevent him from doing so.

All parties agree that Officer Salinas cried out, "He's got my gun." Officer Pena drew her weapon and fired several times. One bullet struck Martinez in the face, damaging his optic nerve and rendering him blind. Another bullet fractured a vertebrae, paralyzing his legs. Three more bullets tore through his leg around the knee joint. The officers then handcuffed Martinez.

The patrol supervisor, Sergeant Ben Chavez, arrived on the scene minutes later along with paramedics. While Sergeant Chavez discussed the incident with Officer Salinas, the paramedics removed the handcuffs so they could stabilize Martinez's neck and back and loaded him into the ambulance. Sergeant Chavez rode to the emergency room in the ambulance with Martinez to obtain his version of what had happened.

As emergency room personnel treated Martinez, Sergeant Chavez began a taped interview. Chavez did not preface his questions by reciting Miranda warnings. The interview lasted 45 minutes. The medical staff asked Chavez to leave the trauma room several times, but the tape shows that he returned and resumed questioning. Chavez turned off the tape recorder each time medical personnel removed

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him from the room. The transcript of the recorded conversation totals about ten minutes and provides an incontrovertible account of the interview.

Sergeant Chavez pressed Martinez with persistent, directed questions regarding the events leading up to the shooting. Most of Martinez's answers were non-responsive. He complained that he was in pain, was choking, could not move his legs, and was dying. He drifted in and out of consciousness. By the district court's tally, "[d]uring the questioning at the hospital, [Martinez] repeatedly begged for treatment; he told [Sergeant Chavez] he believed he was dying eight times; complained that he was in extreme pain on fourteen separate occasions; and twice said he did not want to talk any more." Chavez stopped only when medical personnel moved Martinez out of the emergency room to perform a C.A.T. scan.

Martinez filed a complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the officer defendants violated his constitutional rights by stopping him without probable cause, using excessive force, and subjecting him to a coercive interrogation while he was...

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