Officer Jeremy Hellawell was dispatched to investigate a 911 call from a citizen who reported that a man matching Ernest Foster’s description was walking toward a shopping plaza armed with a concealed handgun. As the incident unfolded, Hellawell approached Foster at the shopping plaza to investigate the report, Foster fled, and Hellawell ultimately shot Foster fatally three times in the back.

Foster claimed that the officer violated his Fourth Amendment rights by making an investigative stop of Foster and by approaching him with an unholstered gun. The Ninth Circuit held that the officer did not violate clearly established law when he concluded, based on the 911 call, that he had reasonable suspicion to stop and investigate Foster. The panel further held that a reasonable officer in defendant’s position could reasonably conclude that unholstering a gun during the stop did not constitute a violation of Foster’s right to be free from excessive force.

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