The National Police Association Asks Supreme Court to Reverse Dangerous New Officer Liability

INDIANAPOLIS, June 24, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The National Police Association (NPA) has filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the United States asking it to reverse a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that places police officers at financial risk for doing their jobs and endangers the public by threatening to overwhelm and make unavailable hospital emergency rooms.

In the matter of Daniel Kinsinger v. Sherelle Thomas, Administrator of the Estate of Terrelle Thomas, et al., the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled that police officers can be sued for taking a person suspected of being on drugs, who is showing no signs of distress, to a booking center that provides medical screening instead of a hospital.

In Kinsinger, Officer Kinsinger and fellow law enforcement made a traffic stop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. After coming in contact with Terrelle Thomas, officers believed Mr. Thomas had ingested cocaine. Mr. Thomas denied this. These officers—seven in total—closely watched Mr. Thomas’s condition. None saw Mr. Thomas become ill or act under the influence.

During a subsequent search of the vehicle, the officers found cocaine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. After arresting Mr. Thomas, Mr. Thomas was taken to the Dauphin County Booking Center. Thirty-eight minutes after Officer Kinsinger encountered Mr. Thomas, Mr. Thomas arrived at the DCBC. The accompanying officer informed medical staff that they suspected Mr. Thomas had swallowed cocaine. The medical staff examined Mr. Thomas and deemed him clear to stay at the facility. Roughly one hour later, Mr. Thomas collapsed in his cell, and died at a local hospital three days later.

Mr. Thomas’s estate sued the involved officers, the medical-intake company, and the City of Harrisburg, alleging the officers acted deliberately indifferent to Mr. Thomas’s medical needs and that each officer failed to intervene and provide medical care.

The effect of this ruling is officers are going to be waiting at hospitals until anyone suspected of drug use gets the all-clear, overwhelming emergency rooms, delaying their ability to treat the public, and creating a lack of officers on the street doing their jobs.

In an amicus curiae brief filed June 10, 2024, with the United States Supreme Court, the National Police Association argued that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals improperly expanded substantive due process rights when it ruled that Dauphin County, Pennsylvania probation officer Daniel Kinsinger had acted deliberately indifferent to a suspect’s medical needs. In so doing, the Third Circuit implicitly ruled that criminal suspects who have potentially taken drugs have a constitutional right to in-hospital medical care, even if non-hospital medical care is available and obtained. The NPA explained in its brief that such recognition is not warranted under the standards governing substantive due process, and for that reason urged the Supreme Court to accept Officer Kinsinger’s case for review and reverse the 3rd Circuit’s ruling.

The National Police Association is represented by Robert S. Lafferrandre and Jeffrey C. Hendrickson of Pierce Couch Hendrickson Baysinger & Green, L.L.P., in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The case is Daniel Kinsinger v. Sherrelle Thomas, et al., No. 23-1204, before the United States Supreme Court. The NPA’s brief can be accessed here. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission of educating supporters of law enforcement in how to help police departments accomplish their goals.

Media Contact:
Tim Livingston

SOURCE The National Police Association