Beltran-Serrano et al. v. City of Tacoma

This court case is completed

On June 29th, 2013, Cesar Beltran-Serrano, a Spanish-speaking man with mental disabilities, was shot five times by a police officer as he walked away from a routine investigatory stop. The officer made contact with Mr. Beltran-Serrano and quickly concluded he was mentally ill and did not speak English. While waiting for a Spanish-speaking officer to arrive, the officer repeatedly gave orders in English to Mr. Beltran-Serrano, who became frightened and tried to walk away. After a taser had no effect, the officer shot Mr. Beltran-Serrano five times to stop him, leaving him severely and permanently injured. The trial court dismissed Mr. Beltran-Serrano’s subsequent lawsuit, holding that police use of deadly force does not allow for negligence claims. The Washington Supreme Court granted discretionary review. Our brief, filed on October 1st, 2018, argues that the police have a duty of care owed to the citizens they serve, including those with disabilities and those who speak languages other than English. Disallowing negligence claims against the police in this situation would remove a key tool of deterrence to the use of excessive and deadly force.