A road rage incident went way out of control when one of the combatants grabbed the other by the hair and threw her to the ground. The state employee, Keli Calderone, pulled a sidearm that she was licensed to carry and shot the man. That man survived but sustained severe injuries as a result of the incident. Calderone was charged with attempted murder, but later, she was acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. Beforehand, however, Calderone was held before a termination committee to decide whether she was still allowed to work in her capacity with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. The office rejected her claim of self-defense and terminated her.
The Self-Defense Argument
Self-defense arguments are really easy to make in some states (Florida) and really difficult to make in other states, like Illinois. Calderone was charged with attempted murder, but the judge who presided over her case determined that because she had been thrown to the ground, and was in a vulnerable position that left her subjected to further force, her use of her gun was justified.
Calderone Sues the City
In a bizarre twist of fate, Calderone sued the city for violating her constitutional rights to self-defense. However, it is not just police officers who are protected by qualified immunity, it is everyone who works in any capacity for the government. The lawsuit named two of the individuals who rendered their decision to discharge Calderone without cause. Calderone argued that this was a violation of her Constitutional rights, but a court dismissed her lawsuit based on (surprise) qualified immunity.
The Use of Reasonable Force
There are two elements to this case that are interesting. The first is Calderone’s self-defense plea and the second is her lawsuit against the city being tossed on the grounds of qualified immunity. Essentially, a government employee cannot be sued when acting on behalf of the government in any official capacity. If their conduct goes outside conduct befitting their office, then they can be sued. In this case, Calderone’s right to defend herself was still up in the air when she was discharged from her job. That means that she could not prove that the people who voted to terminate her employment did so in a capacity that went beyond their official duties. They would have had to know that Calderon’s self-defense argument was a valid one. So her lawsuit was dismissed.
This is largely because what constitutes the “use of reasonable force” is a matter decided by the jury. If the prosecutor did not know that her conduct was reasonable, then how could her bosses know?
To raise a self-defense argument, the defendant must argue that their use of force was justified to avoid a serious threat of bodily injury or death to themselves or someone else. The threat must be immediate and illegal, such as battery.
Call a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been involved in a road rage incident, then you might need a skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney. Call David Friedberg today at (312) 560-7100 to learn more about how we can help.