In C.B. v. City of Sonora, en banc opinion published October 15, 2014, the en banc 9th Circuit -- in a highly split opinion -- affirmed a jury's verdict and district court decisionthat the police officer defendants were liable for violating the minor plaintiff's 4th Amendment right to be free from excessive force, and that the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity against that claim, but reversed the district court's decision that the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity for removing the child from campus. The child, a sixth grader who had ADHD, had forgotten to take his medications, and was sitting in the playground, not obeying a school coach's instructions to come inside. The coach summoned police. The dispatcher stated the student was "out of control." When the officer defendants arrived, the coach whispered to them "runner" and "[n]o medicine." The student did not respond to the officers' questions. The officers handcuffed the student, put him in a police car, and transported him to his uncle's place of business, keeping him in handcuffs.
The majority of judges concluded that under the circumstances -- including the information that the student was out of control, was a "runner," and had not had "medicine", the law was not clearly established that removing the student from the campus was unconstitutional. The officers were therefore entitled to qualified immunity on the claim that they violated the student's 4th amendment rights by removing him without further investigation, particularly in light of a school official's belief that the police needed to remove the student. A different majority determined, however, that the circumstances did not justify keeping the student in handcuffs for thirty minutes in a locked police car while transporting him, without any information that the student needed to be restrained or exploring alternatives such as having his uncle pick him up closer to school.