City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan

State: California

Filed: 2015

Court: U.S. Supreme Court

Overview: The brief argued that a woman with mental illness who was shot five times by police at her group home while experiencing a mental health crisis could sue the city of San Francisco under Title II of the ADA for failure to provide her with reasonable accommodations in the process of arresting her.

Excerpt: “It is critical to the lives of persons with many types of disabilities that police departments adopt and implement policies and practices that take disability into account during police interactions. Approximately half of all fatal police interactions involve persons with psychiatric disabilities…Title II of the ADA requires nondiscrimination and reasonable modifications (also known as reasonable accommodations) in policing activities, including in the type of detention at the heart of this case. In the context of a person with a known psychiatric disability, who is in crisis and subject to involuntary mental health treatment, the ADA requires that police employ widely accepted policing practices that use containment, coordination, communication, and time to seek safe resolutions.”

Status: In 2015, the Supreme Court held that police officers are entitled to qualified immunity because there was no clearly established law requiring them to accommodate the plaintiff’s mental illness. The Court did not address the question of whether the ADA applied to arrests.

Case Documents

Amicus Brief: City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan

U.S. Supreme Court Opinion