NEW ORLEANS —The ACLU of Louisiana has released the following statement after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a First Amendment violation claim brought against a St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy by Teliah Perkins, a Black woman from Slidell who was violently arrested at her own home in response to an anonymous complaint of someone operating a motorcycle in a dangerous manner. After extended questioning, during which Ms. Perkins assured the deputies that she had not committed any traffic violations, the deputies stormed onto Ms. Perkins’ property and arrested her. The deputies violently seized Ms. Perkins by the arms and forced her to the ground, pressing her face into the pavement and digging their knees and elbows into her back and legs. Deputy Kyle Hart kept Ms. Perkins pinned to the ground and pressed his forearm into her windpipe with his entire body weight as she gasped and expressed that he was choking her. The attack was recorded by her teenage son on his phone and left Ms. Perkins in need of emergency medical care. 

In 2022, the officers involved, Kyle Hart and Ryan Moring, were denied qualified immunity by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

“It is a resounding victory that the Fifth Circuit upheld the clearly established right for all Louisianians to record police brutality.  The ruling underscores that police intimidation of witnesses who record police officers actively engaged in brutality cannot stand and will be deemed unconstitutional.”  

While the Fifth Circuit upheld the First Amendment violation claim, the court dismissed Ms. Perkins’ excessive force claims.

“Ever since the Fifth Circuit decided Tucker v. City of Shreveport in 2021 – a decision United States Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor deemed ‘highly questionable’ – there has been reason to fear that judges in the Fifth Circuit might improperly tread on the provenance of the jury in deciding questions of fact.  Just as in Tucker, that occurred here.  Here, the videotape is not blatantly contradicted by the allegations in Ms. Perkins’ complaint, such that no reasonable jury could believe her allegations to be true – the standard laid out by the United States Supreme Court.  And yet, even though the trial court was able to see from the very same videotape that a reasonable jury could conclude that the force used against Ms. Perkins was not proportional to any perceived resistance, the Fifth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion.  

We thus call on the community, a true jury of Ms. Perkins’ peers, to also view the videotape and reach their own conclusion. If reasonable minds disagree about whether Ms. Perkins continued to be abused after any perceived resistance, that is conclusive evidence that the Fifth Circuit’s unilateral view of the videotape is incorrect, as it does not ‘blatantly contradict’ Ms. Perkins’ account of the abuse she faced at the hands of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office." 

View full decision from the Fifth Circuit Court here.