The Fourth Amendment applies to arrests, no question about it. What about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Specifically, do individuals with mental illnesses have to be accommodated under the ADA when being arrested? The Ninth Circuit said yes and the Supreme Court has agreed to review its decision in City & County of San Francisco v. Sheehan.
When police officers entered Teresa Sheehan’s room in a group home for persons with mental illness she threatened to kill them with a knife she held, so they retreated. When the officers reentered her room soon after leaving it, Sheehan stepped toward them with her knife raised and continued to hold it after the officers pepper sprayed and ultimately shot her.
Title II of the ADA provides that individuals with a disability must be able to participate in the “services, programs, or activities of a public entity,” and that their disability must be reasonably accommodated.
Sheehan argued that Title II of the ADA applies to arrests and that the officers should have taken her mental illness into account when reentering her room. Her proposed accommodations included: respecting her comfort zone, engaging in non-threatening communications, and using the passage of time to defuse the situation
The Ninth Circuit agreed with Sheehan that Title II of the ADA applies to arrests. Continue reading