312 F.3d 1148 (9th Cir. 2002), 01-56339, Cunningham v. Gates
|Citation:||312 F.3d 1148|
|Party Name:||Robert CUNNINGHAM; Armand Soly, Betty Soly, in their individual capacities and as successors in interest to their deceased son, Daniel Soly, and in their capacities as representatives of the classes described fully hereinbelow; Alpha Doe, Beta Doe, in their capacity as a representative of the class described fully hereinbelow; Alfredo Olivas, Harol|
|Case Date:||December 13, 2002|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit|
Argued and Submitted Oct. 10, 2002.
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Stephen Yagman, Kathryn Bloomfield, Marion R. Yagman, and Joseph Reichmann, Yagman & Yagman & Reichman, Venice Beach, California, for the appellants.
Rockard J. Delgadillo, Daniel Woodard, and Amy Jo Field, Office of the City Attorney, Los Angeles, California, for the appellees.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California; Consuelo B. Marshall, Chief Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-96-02666-CBM.
Before: GOODWIN, RYMER, and McKEOWN, Circuit Judges.
McKEOWN, Circuit Judge.
This case arose from the bloody aftermath of a robbery in the Newbury Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. After police surrounded the getaway car, the two robbers, Robert Cunningham and Daniel Soly, exchanged gunfire with the police. Soly died and Cunningham was seriously injured. Cunningham was later tried and convicted of, among other things, murdering Soly by provoking the police to shoot. Soly's parents and Cunningham filed civil rights claims against the police and other defendants associated with the City of Los Angeles, alleging that police used excessive force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
We must decide whether Cunningham's claims are barred under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 487, 114 S.Ct. 2364, 129 L.Ed.2d 383 (1994), because the theories he now asserts would call into question the validity of his state convictions. We must also decide whether the claims of Soly's parents are similarly barred by Cunningham's convictions.
The facts and procedural history of this complex case are described more fully in our earlier opinion, Cunningham v. Gates, 229 F.3d 1271 (9th Cir. 2000), so our discussion here is limited to the background relevant to the issues before us.
I. The Robbery
The Los Angeles Police Department's ("LAPD") Special Investigation Section ("SIS") learned in May of 1995 that Daniel Soly and Robert Cunningham had been involved in an armed robbery in Simi Valley. On June 26,1995, SIS officers started surveillance of the two men after receiving tips that more criminal activity was afoot. That evening, SIS officers followed Cunningham and Soly to Newbury Park, California, and watched as they robbed the Southwest Liquor and Deli.
Cunningham and Soly left the store and ran to their getaway car. Plainclothes SIS officers in unmarked cars surrounded the car, boxing it in. This tactic, known as "jamming," is often used by special units to gain surprise over armed suspects and to prevent escape and dangerous high-speed chases. See Cunningham, 229 F.3d at 1278 n. 7.
What happened next is hotly debated. Cunningham and Soly allege in their complaint that SIS officers simply began to shoot, firing eighteen shotgun blasts and handgun shots into the getaway car, killing Soly, leaving Cunningham paralyzed, and wounding two fellow SIS officers. The SIS officers insist that Cunningham and Soly fired first. Whatever happened, the scene was chaos; the Ventura County Sheriff deputies called to the scene had difficulty distinguishing between the plainclothes police and the suspects and ended up arresting everyone.
II. Cunningham's State Convictions
Cunningham was charged with several crimes related to the robbery and gun-fight. A California jury convicted Cunningham of three counts of...
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