Since 2019, the family of 17-year-old Isaiah Lewis have been fighting for justice. Lewis was shot by an Edmond, Okla. officer while having a mental crisis and trying to flee the police, reports say. According to KFOR News, the officer who killed him will escape charges under qualified immunity.
The day Lewis was killed, he had consumed laced marijuana and got in an argument with his girlfriend, per Courthouse News. A neighbor caught notice of the situation and falsely reported to police that Lewis was beating up the girl. When officers arrived at the scene, Lewis was nude and running through the woods. Officers say Lewis broke into the nearest home and was struck with a Taser three times in the hallway.
Officer Denton Scherman then shot Lewis four times 30 seconds after the Taser. Lewis’ family filed a federal lawsuit alleging the officer violated the teen’s civil rights by killing him. However, an appeals court ruled in favor of the cop.
More on the judge’s decision from KFOR News:
According to court documents, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver backed an Edmond police officer who shot and killed Isaiah Lewis. The court ruled in favor of the officer saying he is “entitled to qualified immunity.” That means the officer did not violate Isaiah Lewis’s rights.
“Both officers were violently assaulted in this confrontation inside the house… After the fact at the scene, it was seen they both were visibly injured,” said Jenny Wagnon, Edmond Police Department.
Ultimately, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater determined that the officers’ actions were justified in shooting Lewis. If Lewis’s parents’ attorneys decide to ask the full appeals court to reconsider the ruling, and they do, a new judgement can be issued.
Lewis’ family attorney argued that the “threat” Lewis posed to police after being shot once was really him reacting to his wounds. If this is the case, plenty more officers will not go to prison for killing people based on their perceiving something as a threat.
After the murder of George Floyd, up to 25 states have considered reforming qualified immunity, per CNN. Only four states have struck down the defense through legislation. Until the rest of the states fall in line, police will continue to be exempt from any form of accountability.