Provoking a Confrontation and the Fourth Amendment

Here's a quirk within the law of deadly force:

Where a police officer “intentionally or recklessly provokes a violent confrontation, if the provocation is an independent Fourth Amendment violation, he maybe held liable for his otherwise defensive use of deadlyforce.”  Billington v. Smith, 292 F.3d 1177, 1189 (9th Cir.2002). If an officer intentionally or recklessly violates a suspect's constitutional rights, then the violation may be a provocation creating a situation in which force was necessary and such force would have been legal but for the initial violation.
Espinosa v. San Francisco (CA9) (here).  The doctrine makes sense, but seems too even-handed and common sense to exist.  In Espinosa, a Ninth Circuit panel applied it to a police officer who illegally entered a home and awoke a sleeping man.
In this case, the district court did not err in findingthat there are genuine issues of fact regarding whether theofficers intentionally or recklessly provoked a confrontationwith Sullivan. Evidence strongly suggests that the initial entry into the apartment by Officer Morgado violated Sullivan’s Fourth Amendment rights. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, there is evidence that the illegal entry created a situation which led to the shooting and required the officers to use force that might have otherwise been reasonable. See Alexander v. City and County of San Francisco, 29 F.3d 1355, 1366 (9th Cir. 1994) (holding officers provoked a confrontation where they entered a man’shouse without a warrant and this violation provoked the man to shoot at the officers). Because there is a genuine issue of fact regarding whether the defendants intentionally or recklessly provoked a violent confrontation, the district did not err in denying defendants’ summary judgment motion on this issue. See id.
Under the provocation-of-conflict doctrine, even if they were telling the truth about seeing a gun in the unarmed man's hand, they might still be liable.  After shooting the unarmed man, the cops in Espinosa of course claimed that they saw a black object in the unarmed man's hand.
Officer Keesor stated that he shot because he believed that he saw something black in Sullivan’s hand that looked like a gun. Officer Alvis stated that she shot because she thought she saw something in Sullivan’s hand and that she saw him move his right arm. Sullivan was unarmed.
Aren't police trained to identify firearms?  If so, why are all of these unarmed people being shot?  Might the more rational explanation be that police officers routinely lie about these mysterious black objects?

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