Oct 18, 2021 16:22 UTC
  • A general view of the US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, June 25, 2021. (Reuters photo)
    A general view of the US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, June 25, 2021. (Reuters photo)

The US Supreme Court has granted requests by police officers in a pair of cases for legal protection under a controversial legal doctrine called "qualified immunity" from lawsuits accusing them of using excessive force.

According to Press TV, the justices on Monday reversed two federal appeals courts that had permitted excessive force lawsuits to proceed against officers in separate cases from California and Oklahoma.

Officers Josh Girdner and Brandon Vick were involved in the fatal shooting of a hammer-wielding man in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The two officers shot and killed the suspect when he grabbed a hammer and lifted it overhead as if preparing to throw it or charge at them.

The justices also overturned a lower court's decision to deny a request by Union City, California police officer Daniel Rivas-Villegas for qualified immunity who was accused of using excessive force while handcuffing a suspect.

The summary rulings favoring the police in the two cases were unsigned and were issued without noted dissent.

The so-called qualified immunity defense protects police officials from civil litigation in certain circumstances, permitting lawsuits only when an individual's "clearly established" statutory or constitutional rights have been violated, according to Reuters.

Police brutality or excessive use of force have sparked mass protests across the US in recent years.

One of the most high-profile cases that led to the death of African American, George Floyd in May last year, sparked angry protests across the US and the world.

Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was lately convicted of murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Floyd.