Third Justice Lab settlement demonstrates progress towards combating discriminatory policing practices and achieving police accountability
THIBODAUX – The ACLU of Louisiana and Fish & Richardson announced a settlement on behalf of Mr. Yohann Jackson, a Black man suffering from cerebral palsy who was violently detained by three Thibodaux police officers at his own home. This settlement is another significant victory for Justice Lab, the ACLU’s campaign to challenge systemic racism and police violence across Louisiana.
“After nearly three years of working to bring justice to our clients, this settlement represents another important step forward in our fight against discrimination by the police,” said Nora Ahmed, ACLU of Louisiana legal director. “Until law enforcement agencies take accountability for their consistent misconduct, our most vulnerable community members — people of color, children, low-income people, immigrants, and people with disabilities — will not be safe from those sworn to protect and serve them.”
As alleged in his complaint, on August 15, 2022, Thibodaux police officers arrived at Mr. Jackson’s house following a complaint of a missing debit card, without any suggestion of violence. Mr. Jackson tried to cooperate by calmly informing the officers of his disability and explaining he didn’t want any trouble. Despite voluntarily handing over his keys, three officers forcefully detained Mr. Jackson by grabbing, jerking, and twisting his weakened and immobilized right arm behind his back, while two sets of handcuffs violently yanked his body in ways it could not bend. One officer inserted a finger into Mr. Jackson’s right ear and pulled so hard that Mr. Jackson felt as though his ear had been ripped open. Then, an officer forcefully pushed and kicked Mr. Jackson into the police car, causing his right leg to hit the side of the car and his head to slam against a metal plate. Throughout his brutal detention, Mr. Jackson repeatedly told the officers they were injuring him and that he had cerebral palsy.
Officers acted with this callousness despite the fact Mr. Jackson never posed any threat and cooperated with them fully at all times. Mr. Jackson suffered serious physical and emotional injuries from this violent encounter.
Over 50% of people killed by police officers are disabled, and 33-50% of police use of force incidents are against persons with disabilities. Black people with disabilities, like Mr. Jackson, are also twice as likely than white people to be killed or otherwise brutalized by the police. Individuals with disabilities are often wrongly seen as non-compliant because they are physically unable to do what an officer commands, or are unable to understand the commands at all. Mr. Jackson did everything he could do to cooperate with officers and persistently informed them of his condition, yet they continued to act with cruel disregard for his humanity.
“I am just glad to be in a place that sees a need and a sense of duty to help their fellow man in his time of need,” said Mr. Yohann Jackson, ACLU of Louisiana client.
Jackson v. Snow et al. was the 18th lawsuit filed as part of the ACLU of Louisiana’s Justice Lab campaign. In reaching this settlement, the defendants do not admit liability or negligence. Justice Lab has filed nearly 50 cases across Louisiana against law enforcement agencies since first launching in 2020. For more information, visit aclujusticelab.org.