Date Filed: 10/27/2022

Seidner v. de Vries 

Challenging Qualified Immunity

On February 25, 2019, Preston Seidner was riding his bicycle home shortly after midnight. He was within a block of his home when he rode past Officer Jonathan de Vries, a police officer with the Mesa Police Department. Officer de Vries activated his overhead lights, intending to cite Mr. Seidner for the lack of lights on his bicycle—a misdemeanor under Arizona law. Mr. Seidner continued pedaling past the squad car. Officer de Vries then accelerated past Mr. Seidner, cut directly in front of him, and slammed on his brakes. Almost immediately, Mr. Seidner, who was biking quickly, crashed into the squad car. In the aftermath of the crash, Mr. Seidner writhed in pain, screamed out, “I can’t breathe,” and then passed out. Officer de Vries handcuffed Mr. Seidner’s unconscious body, and, as Mr. Seidner came to, dragged him over to the sidewalk. Mr. Seidner was later transferred to the hospital and treated for injuries to his head, chest, and wrist. Mr. Seidner filed a civil rights complaint in federal court, alleging unconstitutional excessive force. Officer de Vries claimed he was entitled to qualified immunity.   

The District Court for the District of Arizona denied Officer de Vries’s motion for summary judgement. LDF and Rights Behind Bars represent Mr. Seidner on Officer de Vries’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. LDF’s and RBB’s brief argues that the District Court was right to deny qualified immunity because Officer de Vries’s use of force violated Mr. Seidner’s constitutional rights, and this violation was clearly established under Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent. LDF asserted that the use of a vehicle to stop a peaceful bicyclist for a minor traffic violation was an objectively unreasonable, and thus unconstitutional, use of force. Additionally, LDF argued that the unconstitutionality of this action was clearly established. Under Supreme Court precedent, imposing a roadblock that does not provide a driver a reasonable opportunity to voluntarily stop to avoid a collision is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Moreover, Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent establish that it is unconstitutional to use deadly or significant force against an unarmed suspect that poses no threat whatsoever to the officer or others.   

End Qualified Immunity

End Qualified Immunity Qualified immunity prevents law enforcement from being held personally accountable for violating people’s rights. It allows law enforcement to cross legal lines

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