745 F.3d 767 (5th Cir. 2014), 13-30337, Harris v. Serpas

Docket Nº:13-30337
Citation:745 F.3d 767
Opinion Judge:JAMES E. GRAVES, JR., Circuit Judge:
Party Name:TYRALYN HARRIS, individually and on behalf of her minor children, Jai Harris and Jalen Aubert; SHANNON GRACE, individually and on behalf of her minor child, Branin Harris; BRIAN JOURDAN; BRIANIKA JOURDAN, Plaintiffs - Appellants v. RONAL SERPAS; STEPHEN MCGEE; CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, through Mayor Mitchell Landrieu; JAMES KISH; JONATHAN PARKER; STUART
Attorney:For TYRALYN HARRIS, individually and on behalf of her minor children, Jai Harris and Jalen Aubert, SHANNON GRACE, individually and on behalf of her minor child, Branin Harris, BRIAN JOURDAN, BRIANIKA JOURDAN, Plaintiffs - Appellants: Richard L. Root, Esq., Betsy J. Barnes, Barnes & Root, L.L.C., ...
Judge Panel:Before KING, CLEMENT, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:March 12, 2014
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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745 F.3d 767 (5th Cir. 2014)

TYRALYN HARRIS, individually and on behalf of her minor children, Jai Harris and Jalen Aubert; SHANNON GRACE, individually and on behalf of her minor child, Branin Harris; BRIAN JOURDAN; BRIANIKA JOURDAN, Plaintiffs - Appellants

v.

RONAL SERPAS; STEPHEN MCGEE; CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, through Mayor Mitchell Landrieu; JAMES KISH; JONATHAN PARKER; STUART SMITH; ERIC GEISLER, Defendants - Appellees

No. 13-30337

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

March 12, 2014

Page 768

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

For TYRALYN HARRIS, individually and on behalf of her minor children, Jai Harris and Jalen Aubert, SHANNON GRACE, individually and on behalf of her minor child, Branin Harris, BRIAN JOURDAN, BRIANIKA JOURDAN, Plaintiffs - Appellants: Richard L. Root, Esq., Betsy J. Barnes, Barnes & Root, L.L.C., New Orleans, LA; Jason Rogers Williams, Jason Rogers Williams & Associates, L.L.C., New Orleans, LA.

For RONAL SERPAS, STEPHEN MCGEE, CITY OF NEW ORLEANS, through Mayor Mitchell Landrieu, JAMES KISH, JONATHAN PARKER, STUART SMITH, ERIC GEISLER, Defendants - Appellees: Sharonda R. Williams, Esq., Churita H. Hansell, Esq., City Attorney's Office for the City of New Orleans, New Orleans, LA.

Before KING, CLEMENT, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 769

JAMES E. GRAVES, JR., Circuit Judge:

On the evening of April 9, 2010, five police officers from the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) arrived at Brian Harris's home after his former wife called 911 when she feared Brian had possibly ingested an overdose of sleeping pills. Mr. Harris had committed no crime and the officers were not there to place him under arrest. After breaching the barricaded door to his bedroom, the officers shot and killed Mr. Harris when he raised a knife above his head and advanced toward them. Mr. Harris's surviving children filed suit against the officers for excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment and sued the City of New Orleans under a Monell theory. The district court granted summary judgment for the officers on the basis of qualified immunity and dismissed the claim against the City. We AFFIRM the district court's opinion for the following reasons.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

At the time of this incident, Brian Harris was in his bedroom at his home, where

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he lived with his former wife, Tyralyn Harris, and two children, Jalen Aubert and Jai Harris. On April 9, 2010, Tyralyn became concerned about Brian's well-being, as he was depressed after recently losing his job. That night, Brian locked himself inside their bedroom and Tyralyn believed he may have taken an overdose of sleeping pills in an effort to take his own life. Fearing for Brian's life, Tyralyn called 911 for help.

NOPD Officers Stephen McGee, Jonathon Parker, and James Kish responded to the call, along with Sergeants Stuart Smith and Eric Geisler. When the officers arrived at about 10:22 p.m., Tyralyn met the officers in front of the house, and explained to them that she believed Brian may have taken an overdose of sleeping pills. She did not express any fear for her own safety or that of their children, but she was worried that Brian may hurt himself. She also told the officers that Brian did not have a gun, but may have a folding knife with him that he usually carried due to his former job as a welder. Tyralyn then gave the officers a set of keys to the bedroom door where Brian had locked himself in.

The officers carried two tasers that included small camera devices, which recorded audio and video. The first video shows one of the officers, Sergeant Smith, ordering the other officers to line up outside Brian's bedroom door, stating that " I want one gun and one taser right here." An officer called out the name " Brian" and got no response. When the officers unlocked the door, they found it was barricaded by a large dresser that had been moved into the 2 path of the doorway. The video shows the officers forcing the door open, calling out " Brian" and then entering the room. The officers found Mr. Harris lying on his back in his bed under a blanket, not moving.

Upon entering his bedroom, the officers began to give verbal commands, demanding to see Mr. Harris's hands. When Mr. Harris did not respond, Officer McGee removed his blanket revealing Mr. Harris, who was dressed in under shorts and a tank top, lying on his bed. Mr. Harris was holding a folding knife in his right hand. The officers began yelling for him to " put it down, put it down! Put down the knife!" Mr. Harris, while still lying in his bed...

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