The United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in San Francisco v. Sheehan on May 18, 2015. The case originated from a violent incident between a mentally unstable woman and police officers in a group home in San Francisco in 2008. The woman, Sheehan, threatened a social worker at the home with a knife and locked herself in her room. The worker called 911 for help, and two officers responded. They entered Sheehan’s room with a key provided by the social worker, but were also threatened by Sheehan. The officers retreated and called for back up. Judging the situation not stable enough to wait for the back up to arrive, the officers at the scene re-entered Sheehan’s room and used pepper spray to attempt to subdue her. When that failed and Sheehan continued to charge toward the officers, they fired their guns, wounding her.
Sheehan sued the City of San Francisco for violations of her Fourth Amendment rights and for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, she claimed that the officers’ entry of her room was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, and that because she is mentally ill (Sheehan has schizophrenia) she is entitled to accommodation by police officers under both the Fourth Amendment and the ADA when they interact with her.