Opinions Relating to Orders - 2021

Ramirez v. Guadarrama

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied. JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE BREYER and JUSTICE KAGAN join, dissenting from the denial of certiorari. Petitioners, Selina Marie Ramirez and her two children, called 911 when Gabriel Eduardo Olivas (their husband and father, respectively) threatened to commit suicide and burn down the house. Ramirez and her children allege that, when the police arrived, two officers discharged their tasers at Olivas after he doused himself in gasoline in their presence, despite knowing from their training that tasers employ electrical charges that ignite gasoline, and despite a third officer’s warning just moments earlier that “‘[i]f we tase him, he is going to light on fire.’” 3 F. 4th 129, 132 (CA5 2021). As Ramirez and her son watched, Olivas indeed “burst into flames.” Ibid. Ramirez and her children were safely evacuated, but Olivas died of his injuries, and the family’s house burned to the ground.

When petitioners sued under 42 U. S. C. §1983, alleging in relevant part that the officers used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment when they tased Olivas and lit him on fire, the officers moved to dismiss the complaint before discovery, claiming that qualified immunity shielded them from liability.