Gorman v. State of Mississippi

During a preliminary safety briefing before a firearms training exercise hosted by the Mississippi Gaming Commission, instructor and former Commission Special Agent Sharp forgot to replace his real firearm with a “dummy” firearm. Sharp accidentally discharged his real firearm against fellow instructor and Mississippi Gaming Commission Special Agent Gorman. Gorman subsequently died from the gunshot wound. In a suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of Sharp’s motion for judgment on the pleadings based on qualified immunity. To defeat qualified immunity in a Fourth Amendment claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate both a bona fide Fourth Amendment violation and that the violation was clearly established at the time of the official’s conduct. Under established Supreme Court precedent, a Fourth Amendment seizure does not occur whenever there is a governmentally caused termination of an individual’s freedom of movement but only when there is a governmental termination of freedom of movement through means intentionally applied. "There is no question about the fundamental interest in a person’s own life, but it does not follow that a negligent taking of life is a constitutional deprivation." The shooting of Gorman, as tragic as it was, was not “willful[ly]” performed by Sharp.” View "Gorman v. State of Mississippi" on Justia Law