In White v. Pauly, published January 9, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed denial of summary judgment to a police officer sued under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 for use of deadly force. Other officers had surrounded a house where a person they wished to question was located. Evidence conflicted on whether the officers identified themselves as police. The house's inhabitants armed themselves. The moving officer arrived after the others had surrounded the house, and took up position behind a stone wall 50 feet from the house. One inhabitant stepped out the back door, yelled, and fired a shotgun. The other opened a front window and aimed a pistol in the late-arriving officer's direction. An officer fired at the man and missed. The late-arriving officer then shot and killed the man with the handgun. The lower court of appeal ruled that the late arriver was not entitled to qualified immunity, because a jury could have found that because the officer did not hear the other officers identify themselves, the late-arriving officer could have remained safely behind the wall, and the inhabitants might have been acting reasonably if they did not realize those outside were officers.
The Supreme Court, per curiam, reversed. Since there was no precedent holding that an officer acting under similar circumstances (including a belief that the officers had identified themselves before the other officer arrived), the law was not clearly established that the officer's actions violated the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court returned the case to the lower courts for further proceedings.