U.S. Supreme Court to Hear San Francisco Case on Police Handling of Disabled

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San Francisco police car parked outside the Hall of Justice.  (Todd Lappin/Flickr)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday it will consider whether police must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act when confronting armed or violent suspects who are mentally ill.

The justices said Tuesday they will hear an appeal from the city and county of San Francisco, arguing that disability laws do not apply to officers facing violent circumstances.

The case arose in August 2008 when two San Francisco police officers checked on Teresa Sheehan, a woman with a history of mental health problems. She pulled a knife and two responding officers, Kimberly Reynolds and Katherine Holder, ended up shooting five or six times.

The U.S. District Court in San Francisco rejected Sheehan's claims that the officers and the city violated disability laws and entered her room without a valid search warrant. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, saying Sheehan's suit against the officers and the city should be allowed to go forward.