May 2020 was an inflection point for police brutality in the United States as Minneapolis police officers murdered George Floyd and inspired nationwide protests. That same month, two sheriff’s deputies in Louisiana pinned a Black woman to the ground in similar circumstances, leading her to sue the two officers. Today (May 3), those two law enforcement officials attempted for a second time to have the lawsuit dismissed.
St. Tammany Parish Deputies Kyle Hart and Ryan Moring asked a federal appeals court today to throw out the lawsuit filed by Teliah Perkins for the incident. It’s the latest move in a lengthy civil case that they tried to have dismissed last year. According to The Associated Press, a district judge previously ruled that there was evidence of constitutional violations against Perkins and her son, who was 14 years old at the time. When he began recording his mother’s arrest, he was threatened by one of the officers with a Taser.
Perkins didn’t deny in her lawsuit that she resisted arrest. But her lawyers argued that the officers used excessive force while detaining her. She claimed that at one point she was held face down with a deputy’s knee in her back and that a deputy put his hand on her throat, which continued even after she stopped resisting. She was left with chronic pain in her legs, back, and neck, as well as depression, anxiety, and insomnia that require medication. Her son’s injuries include post-traumatic stress disorder.
The three appellate judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals considered this morning whether they have the authority to overrule a lower court’s decree based on video evidence at this point in the lawsuit. Having not gone to trial before a jury, they weighed the legality of their decision-making power.
“We’re here on a very limited standard of review,” Judge Cory Wilson admitted at one point, per the AP. The deputies’ attorney argued that the appeals court has the right to throw out the case at this stage based on videos that he believed showed the officers’ actions were justifiable.
The judges on the panel haven’t indicated when they would deliver their decision in the case.
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