Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Police Officer Not Liable under FTCA or Self-D, Court Says

The U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada held that a tribal officer who employed deadly force could not be held liable for damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act or the Indian Self-Determination Act because he was enforcing tribal law.

In Boney v. Valline, the plaintiff Gaylene Boney sued officer Walter Valline, of the Walker River Paiute Tribe seeking damages for his alleged violation of her Fourth and First amendment rights in connection with her arrest following the shooting death of her son by Valline.

Boney argued that she has a right to action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents. In Bivens, the Supreme Court held that federal officers who acted under the color of law were liable for damages caused by their violation of the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. To state a claim under Bivens, the plaintiff must allege that a federal actor violated a right secured by the Constitution.

In this case, the district court held that despite the fact that the tribe contracted with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide law enforcement under the Indian Self-Determination Act, Valline was not a federal actor for the purposes of the FTCA or the Self-Determination Act. The materials are available at Turtle Talk.

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