West v. Winfield

West v. City of Caldwell, 931 F.3d 978 (9th Cir. 2019)
What happened:

Shaniz West was on her way home when she encountered police officers outside her house.  Police had received a call from West’s grandmother that West’s ex-boyfriend, Salinas, was inside the home threatening Ms. West with a bb gun.  Although Ms. West did not confirm any aspect of her grandmother’s report, officers sought permission to enter her home and apprehend Salinas on outstanding felony arrest warrants unrelated to West.

Although West was initially skeptical that her ex-boyfriend was inside, she told officers he was after police warned her that if Salinas turned out to be in the home and West had said he was not there, she could be guilty of a felony crime. Subsequently, West gave the officers her front door key and permission to enter her home to arrest Salinas.

But officers didn’t enter the home.  Instead, they contacted the SWAT team, who filled the house with tear gas.  When Salinas still didn’t emerge, officers opened the back door via a window they had broken and searched the house, only to confirm that Salinas wasn’t inside.

West couldn’t live in her home for two months because of the toxic effects of the tear gas, and much of her property was destroyed.   She sought compensation from the officers.  They sought qualified immunity.  The officers won.

Now Ms. West’s case awaits certiorari in the Supreme Court.

Read the full opinion