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Impact of Black Lives Matter Movement Reaches the Courts

By Jeremy K. Robinson, CaseyGerry

Just over a week after the Black Lives Matter protests started, a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion on the use of excessive force by the police against a homeless black man that included the exhortation, “[t]his has to stop.”

According to the Fourth Circuit panel: “In 2013, Wayne Jones, a black man experiencing homelessness, was stopped by law enforcement in Martinsburg, West Virginia for walking alongside, rather than on, the sidewalk. By the end of this encounter, Jones would be dead. Armed only with a knife tucked into his sleeve, he was tased four times, hit in the brachial plexus, kicked, and placed in a choke hold. In his final moments, he lay on the ground between a stone wall and a wall of five police officers, who collectively fired 22 bullets.”  

Jones’ estate sued the city and the officers, alleging a Fourth Amendment Claim against the officers and a “Monell” claim against the City. The estate had been “kicked out of district court three times,” with the most recent being a ruling granting summary judgment to both groups of defendants. The basis of summary judgment for the individual officers was the controversial doctrine qualified immunity, now under renewed scrutiny.

Our partner Jeremy Robinson recently wrote about this case and the implications of qualified immunity – a judicially created doctrine – in The Daily Journal and The Daily Transcript.

Read the full article from the Daily Journal here or from the Daily Transcript here (subscription required).