$1M Settlement for Woman Shot by Police in Case with Broader Implications for Policing and Mental Illness

On October 14, 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer approved a settlement in the amount of $1 million for Teresa Sheehan, who in 2008 was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly shot in her San Francisco apartment after police responded to a report that she had threatened a social worker with a knife.

Sheehan's suit was initially dismissed by Breyer but he was overruled on appeal by a 2014 9th Circuit ruling holding that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to police situations involving mentally ill suspects. An appeal by San Francisco to the Supreme Court was abandoned before the case reached the court. The 9th Circuit's jurisdiction covers the entire West Coast in addition to Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

According to NPAP member attorney John Burris, who represented Sheehan with Ben Nisenbaum, "It really says to police departments, if you have an opportunity to make reasonable accommodations, you must do it."