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Laguna granted qualified immunity in excessive-force case

Lawyer for 73-year-old who claimed serious injury when officers entered her home plans to appeal decision.

September 19, 2013|By Bryce Alderton

Vahan Injeyan, undergoing cancer treatment and living with his mother at the time, was not injured during the search, according to Williamson.

The search lasted three to four hours, according to court records.

Vahan Injeyan saw bruises on his mom's wrists for the next several days, and for weeks Marilyn Injeyan felt intermittent shoulder pain, which worsened with time, court records said.

A doctor later diagnosed her with bilateral tears in both rotator cuffs, the first sign of any reported shoulder pain or discomfort, the ruling said.

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Since the incident, Injeyan has had four shoulder surgeries and continues to receive medical treatment, according to court records.

"She is living in pain, and one of her shoulders is now inoperable," Williamson said, citing the surgeon's judgment.

Kohn disputes Marilyn Injeyan's story that her rotator cuffs were torn as a result of Rahaeuser's actions.

"We do not believe that to be the case," Kohn said.

O'Connell ruled that Rahaeuser didn't violate the Fourth Amendment's constitutional guarantee against unreasonable seizures because "he had the authority to detain [Marilyn Injeyan] and he applied reasonable amount of force while handcuffing her," the ruling said.

Rahaeuser was in a "tense and uncertain" situation as he investigated an act of "domestic terrorism," O'Connell wrote.

"As he entered the home, he had no ability to predict whether there would be chemicals inside," according to O'Connell. "Even if Sgt. Rahaeuser did not fear that [Marilyn Injeyan] posed a safety risk, it was reasonable to fear that [she] could dispose of key evidence.

"The court finds that force employed, handcuffing in a manner that elicited no complaints of pain or discomfort, was objectively reasonable when judged from the perspective of an officer on the scene who was executing a search warrant in connection with a crime of violence."

After a time — Marilyn Injeyan described it as "long"; Williamson said it was about 20 minutes — Leal escorted her to the bathroom, removed the handcuffs and allowed her to change clothes in privacy, the ruling said.

Rahaeuser said it was "a few minutes," according to the ruling.

Williamson will ask for an expedited appeal process in a written request, he said, citing Marilyn Injeyan's age.

"The appeal process takes roughly two years from the notice to a decision," Williamson said. "I'm confident we'll get the decision overturned."

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