CA10: Excessive force claim not obvious, so QI applies

Plaintiff resisted getting out of her car after a traffic stop and repeated requests then orders to do so. She was taken down and claims injuries. This is not an obvious constitutional violation under Graham, so the officer gets qualified immunity. Hodge v. Bartram, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 2699 (10th Cir. Feb. 2, 2023)*:

In sum, whether or not Hodge could show that Bartram’s lesser degree of force in the face of her potential resistance was nevertheless excessive, the Graham factors do not so decisively weigh in Hodge’s favor as to place the unconstitutionality of Bartram’s conduct “beyond debate.” Surat, 52 F.4th at 1276 (quoting Wesby, 138 S. Ct. at 589). Simply put, “this is not one of the ‘rare and obvious cases’ where the degree of force rises to a level justifying reliance on Graham itself to clearly establish the law.” Id. at 1280.


This is not a case of an obvious constitutional violation, and Hodge has not identified on-point precedent that would have put every reasonable officer on notice that Bartram’s conduct violated Hodge’s Fourth Amendment rights. Because this absence of clearly established law entitles Bartram to qualified immunity, we reverse the district court’s order denying him summary judgment.

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