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Name: Torres v. City of Madera & Noriega
Case #: 05-16762
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/05/2008

Termination of a person’s movement by means of physical force or show of authority by police is a seizure within the Fourth Amendment. Evarado Torres was arrested for disturbing the peace and placed in the backseat of the patrol vehicle in handcuffs. Torres started yelling and kicking the window of the patrol car and Officer Noriega approached him and told him to stop or, according to one witness, he would be tased. When Torres refused to stop, Officer Noriega reached down and grabbed what she believed was her taser, pointed it at Torres, and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately, instead of the taser, she grabbed her revolver which was located immediately below the taser, and Torres was mortally wounded by her gunshot. Torres’ family sought damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for violation of Torres’ Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable seizures. The Ninth Circuit employs a continuing seizure rule that holds that once a seizure has occurred, it continues throughout the time the person is in the custody of the arresting officer. Therefore, Torres was seized once he was handcuffed and placed in the patrol car and the officer’s conduct and whether it was reasonable, will be governed by the Fourth Amendment. The summary judgment motion of defendants that was granted by the lower court was reversed and the matter remanded to determine if Officer Noriega’s shooting of the revolver was reasonable.