If persons (for example, innocent bystanders) who were injured as a result of negligence by a police officer decide to sue in state court for damages, what would be removal jurisdiction in this case?

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The little bit of information provided in the hypothetical situation outlined in the question is insufficient to provide a substantive answer.  Under the circumstances described – an innocent bystander is inadvertently injured by a police officer – there is no basis upon which the defendant in a civil case, in effect, the police officer and his or her department, can attempt to transfer the case to a federal court – unless the “police officer” is employed by a federal agency (e.g., the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, or U.S. Marshall’s Service).  Barring the federal position of the law enforcement officer, the case can be moved to federal court if some kind of interstate activity is involved, for example, the activity during which the innocent bystander was injured involved two or more states.  There is otherwise nothing about the case provided in the question that suggests removal jurisdiction is an issue or option.  City and state law enforcement personnel serve under the jurisdictions of the city or state in which they reside and work, and those localities have in place legal processes for adjudicating police officer-involved shootings or other actions that resulted in collateral damage, for instance, innocent bystanders injured as a result of a high-speed chase involving police pursuit of criminal suspects.  These matters are the proper provenance of state courts and there are no grounds for elevation of the case to the federal level.  The option for a defendant in a civil case to petition for removal jurisdiction to the federal level is, as the following provision from federal statutes, specifically, 28 U.S.C. 1441, intended to cover cases in which the federal courts have proper jurisdiction:

“(a) Generally.— Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending.”

Additional information pertaining to the hypothetical case outlined in the question could alter the substance of the above answer.  The limited information provided, however, provides no basis for discussion of removal jurisdiction.

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