Section 1983 claims against supervisors
Under certain facts, a police supervisor may be liable for the violation of a person’s federal civil rights, where the supervisor was not present but his or her conduct caused the injury. This means that a supervisor does not need to “personally participate” in the constitutional injury to be liable for it. But there must be a causal connection.
Generally, to prevail on a section 1983 supervisory liability claim, a person must prove the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:
- The supervisor acted under color of state law;
- The supervisor’s subordinate officer’s act or failure to act deprived the person of a particular federal right.
In addition, a person must prove one of the following:
- The supervisor directed the officer in the act or failure to act that deprived the person of a particular federal right;
- The supervisor set in motion a series of acts by the officer—or knowingly refused to terminate a series of acts by the officer—that the supervisor knew or reasonably should have known would cause the officer to deprive the person of a particular federal right;
- The supervisor both (a) knew that the officer was engaging in a series of acts and knew or reasonably should have known that the officer’s conduct would deprive the person of a particular federal right; and (b) the supervisor failed to act to prevent the officer from engaging in such conduct;
- The supervisor both (a) disregarded the known or obvious consequence that a particular training deficiency or omission would cause the officer to violate the person’s constitutional rights; and (b) the deficiency or omission actually caused the officer to deprive the person of a constitutional right;
- The supervisor engaged in conduct that showed a reckless or callous indifference to the deprivation by the officer of the rights of others, and the supervisor’s conduct was so closely related to the deprivation of the person’s rights as to be the moving force that caused the ultimate injury.
Ninth Cir. Civ. Jury Instr. No. 9.4.