Muschette v Gionfriddo 2ndCIR 7DEC2018

Muschette v Gionfriddo 2ndCIR 7DEC2018

This is a civil suit against a police officer in West Hartford, Connecticut for the use of a Tazer on a deaf student.  The plaintiff in this case (Muschette) is a 12-year-old at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford.  The Dean of the school called 911 and reported the plaintiff was “out of control” and “making the situation dangerous.”  He had gotten into a dispute with a teacher and had run into a fenced off construction zone where hit the teacher with a stick and then hit the teacher with a rock and then picked up a large rock at which time the teachers backed off. Officers responded and ordered the 12-year-old to drop the big rock.  All of the verbal commands given by the officer were translated into ASL (American Sign Language) by the Dean who had made the 911 call and was present. When the plaintiff did not comply, one of the officers Tazed him. When efforts to get the handcuffs on were met with significant struggling, the 12-year-old was Tazed again by the officer.

The plaintiff (through his parents) sued the officer for excessive use of force and the officer sought qualified immunity.  The District Court denied Qualified Immunity holding there were issues of fact that needed to be resolved by the jury since the child testified he did not know the officers were even there and did not receive instructions in ASL.  The Second Circuit reversed the District Court and held the officer was entitled to Qualified Immunity because they could not say that no reasonable officer similarly situated would have used the Tazer. Furthermore, it was reasonable for the officer to believe the instructions were being conveyed to the deaf student in ASL.

To read or download the full decision CLICK HERE