SHELLY LAL, individually and in her representative capacity on behalf of the Estate of Kamal L. Lal, decedent, and in her representative capacity as guardian ad litem for Sagar Lal; ESTATE OF KAMAL L. LAL; SAGAR LAL, a minor, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
STATE OF CALIFORNIA; CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL; FRANK NEWMAN, C.H.P. Officer; MATTHEW OTTERBY, C.H.P. Officer, Defendants-Appellees
Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California February 13, 2014,
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. 4:06-cv-05158-PJH. Phyllis J. Hamilton, District Judge, Presiding.
Charles Stephen Ralston (argued), Mi Wuk Village, California, and A. Catherine LaGarde, Kentfield, California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.
Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General of California, Jon Wolff, Steven M. Gevercer, and John P. Devine (argued), San Francisco, California, for Defendants-Appellees.
Before: Consuelo M. Callahan and Milan D. Smith, Jr., Circuit Judges, and Alvin K. Hellerstein, Senior District Judge.[*]. Opinion by Judge Callahan.
CALLAHAN, Circuit Judge:
This case arises out of a tragic incident. Kamal Lal (" Lal" ), upset over a domestic disturbance with his wife, led police on a 45-minute high-speed chase on and off freeways before the officers were able to disable his vehicle. When Lal exited his truck he first tried to seriously hurt himself, then tried to provoke the officers into shooting him, and finally advanced on two officers holding a large rock over his head. When Lal refused to stop and continued to advance to within a few feet of the officers, the officers shot him. Lal's widow, daughter, and estate (" Plaintiffs" ) filed this action, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California law. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants, finding that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity. We affirm the district court's determinations that the officers thought that Lal posed an immediate threat of serious physical harm and that the officers' beliefs were reasonable.
On March 6, 2005, the South San Francisco Police Department received a 911 telephone call from Lal's wife reporting a domestic disturbance involving her husband, Lal. Lal interrupted the call, the
police called back, and after another disconnect, the police dispatcher managed to speak to Lal's wife and overheard someone hitting her. While the dispatcher was still on the phone, Lal drove away in his grey Toyota pickup truck, and his wife gave the dispatcher the truck's license plate number as well as Lal's cell phone number.
Lal proceeded to the freeway where he entered southbound Highway 101. The California Highway Patrol (" CHP" ) was notified and a high-speed chase ensued. For approximately 45 minutes, Lal traveled south and north on Highway 101, exiting the freeway to travel over city streets, and reentering the freeway. He did this at speeds ranging from 50 to over 100 miles an hour. At one point while on the freeway, Lal may have attempted to cause a motorcycle officer who was pursuing him to crash.
A police sergeant contacted Lal on his cell phone and told him to slow down because he would otherwise injure other people. Lal responded that he wanted to kill himself, and on a subsequent call, twice stated that he wanted to kill himself or have the police shoot him.
Meanwhile CHP Officer Frank Newman saw the pursuit heading toward his position and entered traffic to become the lead police vehicle. During the pursuit, Newman learned that Lal wanted officers to shoot him. The dispatcher also learned that Lal did not have any record of gun ownership and did not have any outstanding warrants.
Eventually Lal took an exit from the freeway onto a collector road where the CHP officers deployed a spike strip. Lal drove over the strip, partially disabling his vehicle, and managed to reenter the freeway and reach another off-ramp, where he lost control of his truck and veered off the ramp. The truck came to a stop in a ditch alongside the freeway. When Lal got out of his vehicle, numerous officers, including CHP Officer Otterby, yelled commands at him. Officer Newman addressed Lal through his patrol car loudspeaker and told him to put his hands in the ...