A threatened suicide is an exigent circumstance for an entry, following other circuits. Rice v. Reliastar Life Ins. Co., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 20581 (5th Cir. October 27, 2014):
The Rice Plaintiffs argue that the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement does not apply in this case. They point out that Arnold entered Rice’s home before Rice ever fired his gun, and so, at the time Arnold entered, no exigencies excused his warrantless entry. The Rice Plaintiffs also argue that Arnold violated departmental regulations in entering Rice’s home and that Arnold and the other deputies should have established a perimeter and waited for a special response team before engaging with Rice.
This is not the first time we have encountered a tragic factual scenario like the one present here: a police officer, in an attempt to aid a potentially suicidal individual, entered without a warrant and killed the person the officer was trying to help. See Rockwell v. Brown, 664 F.3d 985 (5th Cir. 2011); cf. Velasquez v. Audirsch, No. 13-50029, 2014 WL 2978535 (5th Cir. July 3, 2014) (unpublished) (per curiam). In these cases, we have resolved the case on the second prong of the qualified immunity analysis, holding that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity because, at the time of the incident, the law was not clearly established that it was unreasonable for an officer to enter without a warrant to address the threat an individual posed to himself. See Velazquez, 2014 WL 2978535, at *6-7 (“[T]he law at the time of the Officers’ entry into the Velasquezes’ home did not clearly establish that the officers were unreasonable in believing the threat [Velasquez] posed to himself or others constituted exigent circumstances.”); Rockwell, 664 F.3d at 996 (“[A]t the time of the incident in this case, it was not clearly established that it was unreasonable for the officers to believe that the threat [Rockwell] posed to himself constituted an exigent circumstance.”). Having only held that the law was not clearly established, our Court has not yet resolved the constitutional question these cases present: whether the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement may allow for a warrantless entry based on the threat an individual poses to himself.
Today we reach that issue and hold that the threat an individual poses to himself may create an exigency that makes the needs of law enforcement so compelling that a warrantless entry is objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court’s discussion of the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement supports our holding. As the Court has explained, “[o]ne exigency obviating the requirement of a warrant is the need to assist persons who are seriously injured or threatened with such injury. ‘The need to protect or preserve life or avoid serious injury is justification for what would be otherwise illegal absent an exigency or emergency.'” Stuart, 547 U.S. at 403 (quoting Mincey, 437 U.S. at 392). This need to protect or preserve life is not limited to instances where violence is directed to another person; the need to protect and preserve life can be just as strong when the violence is directed as one’s self. See Fitzgerald v. Santoro, 707 F.3d 725, 731 (7th Cir. 2013). 10
Our decision is consistent with the decisions of our sister circuits. …