The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to overturn a lower court ruling that justifies the use of excessive force by police on people who don’t understand police orders.
Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute and the Supreme Court Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law had asked that Oklahoma police be held responsible for brutalizing an African-American man who, despite complying with police orders during an arrest, was subjected to excessive force and brutality, including being thrown to the ground, tasered, and placed in a chokehold that rendered him unconscious and required his hospitalization for three days.
The petition in Edwards v. Harmon argued that Jeriel Edwards was not only deprived of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force but also his right to have a jury decide, based on video of his arrest, whether the officers’ actions were clearly unreasonable.
Affiliate attorneys Erin Glenn Busby, Lisa R. Eskow, and Michael F. Sturley of the University of Texas School of Law Supreme Court Clinic, and Andrea and Wyatt Worden of The Worden Law Firm assisted in the defense of Edwards’ Fourth Amendment rights.
“If you ask police what Americans should do to stay alive during encounters with law enforcement, they will tell you to comply, cooperate, obey, not resist, not argue, not make threatening gestures or statements, avoid sudden movements, and submit to a search of their person and belongings,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People.
“The problem is what to do when compliance is not enough. How can you maintain the illusion of freedom when daily, Americans are being shot, stripped, searched, choked, beaten and tasered by police for little more than daring to frown, smile, question, challenge an order or merely exist?”