NEW ORLEANS — On July 26, 2022, the Honorable Wendy B. Vitter of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana denied the bulk of the Motion for Summary Judgment of two St. Tammany’s Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Teliah Perkins.
As part of its Justice Lab campaign, the ACLU of Louisiana, alongside Reid Collins & Tsai LLP, filed a lawsuit last year against two St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies for violently arresting Ms. Perkins at her own home in response to a minor traffic violation she didn’t commit. During the attack, which was recorded by her child, deputies Kyle Hart and Ryan Moring forcefully seized Ms. Perkins by the arms and pushed her to the ground, pressing her face into the pavement and digging their knees and elbows into her back and legs. Deputy Hart kept Ms. Perkins pinned to the ground and pressed his forearm into her windpipe as she gasped “you’re choking me!
Ms. Perkins, the plaintiff in the action, asserts claims under Section 1983 against the deputies for excessive force and First Amendment retaliation, including in connection with the deputies’ unlawful treatment of her minor son.
In its 41-page decision, the Court held that the deputies are not entitled to qualified immunity on the excessive force and First Amendment claims, since the facts and testimony that Ms. Perkins brought forward following discovery show the violation of multiple, clearly established constitutional rights. These constitutional rights include the right of a citizen arrested for a minor traffic violation to be free from unreasonable force after being handcuffed or restrained, and the right of a minor child to peacefully record the police in his own driveway without the threat of physical harm or retaliation from the arresting officers.
ACLU of Louisiana Legal Director Nora Ahmed said: “We are thrilled with the Court’s thoughtful and detailed analysis of the summary judgment evidence and the governing legal framework. This is a big win for not only Ms. Perkins, but also for the countless Black people who’ve been brutalized by Louisiana law enforcement. We’ll never stop fighting on behalf of our communities of color, who have had enough of the oppressive policing practices that have devastated this state for years.”
Yesterday, Defendants filed an interlocutory appeal of the Honorable Wendy B. Vitter’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.