Federal court denies immunity to cops who shot a man over 20 times — and cites George Floyd
A judge's gavel (Shutterstock)

On Tuesday, BuzzFeed News reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has denied extending qualified immunity to five West Virginia police officers who shot a man 22 times as he lay still on the ground.


"Judge Henry Floyd of the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit wrote on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel that to dismiss the case against officers who shot and killed Wayne Jones in 2013 'would signal absolute immunity for fear-based use of deadly force, which we cannot accept,'" reported Zoe Tillman. "Floyd noted that Jones was killed a year before protests erupted nationwide after Michael Brown, a Black man, was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri."

"Although we recognize that our police officers are often asked to make split-second decisions, we expect them to do so with respect for the dignity and worth of black lives. Before the ink dried on this opinion, the FBI opened an investigation into yet another death of a black man at the hands of police, this time George Floyd in Minneapolis," wrote the judge. "This has to stop."

Under the doctrine of qualified immunity, police officers cannot be sued for conduct that arises from the course of their duties, unless a previous court has determined that the specific actions taken by the officers are a violation of civil rights. The doctrine has been widely criticized because judges have gradually broadened the scope of immunity to make it extremely difficult to sue police officers.

Read the full court decision here.