Supreme Court ignores lawsuit from pregnant Taser victim

Hal Libby Contributor
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Malaika Brooks was seven months pregnant and hastily driving her 11-year-old son to school one day in 2004. Little did she know, she was about to be tased.  Three times.

On Tuesday the Supreme Court declined to hear Brooks’ case, upholding the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that officers did not knowingly violate her Fourth Amendment rights.

Brooks’ saga began when she refused to sign a speeding ticket. She had been pulled over for traveling 32 mph in a 20 mph school zone. After declining to sign the ticket, police asked her to exit her vehicle so she could be arrested. However, she refused. 

Police officers then electrocuted her with a Taser three times, dragged her to the ground and handcuffed her.

Brooks filed suit. A federal judge ruled that the case must see a courtroom, as officers had no legal immunity. Ninth Circuit judges felt otherwise, however, ruling that officers could not have been aware that their conduct was unconstitutional or unreasonable, citing legal ambiguity at the time.

The appeals court ruled that Brooks “alleged constitutional violations, but that not every reasonable officer… would have known – beyond debate – that such conduct violates the Fourth Amendment.”

Brooks was convicted by a jury of refusing to sign a traffic ticket — a criminal offense in Seattle — but no decision was reached on her resisting arrest charge.

Each Taser shock occurred within a 42-second window.  The Taser left permanent burn marks on her thigh, arm and neck.

Fortunately, after the incident Brooks gave birth to a completely healthy baby girl.