Source: Chris Enloe
A federal appeals court ruled this week that a Baton Rouge police officer injured during riots in July 2016 can sue Black Lives Matter organizer DeRay Mckesson.
What are the details?
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the officer, who has only been identified as “John Doe” in court records, can sue Mckesson on the grounds that “he acted negligently by leading people to block a highway,” the Associated Press reported.
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The court said the police officer should be able to argue Mckesson did not “exercise reasonable care in leading protesters onto the highway, setting up a police confrontation in which the officer was injured by a thrown concrete block,” according to the AP.
“Mckesson should have known that leading the demonstrators onto a busy highway was most nearly certain to provoke a confrontation between police and the mass of demonstrators, yet he ignored the foreseeable danger to officers, bystanders, and demonstrators, and notwithstanding, did so anyway,” Circuit Judge E. Grady Jolly wrote in a unanimous opinion.
Still, the court emphasized it did not address the validity of the plaintiff’s arguments.
“Our ruling at this point is not to say that a finding of liability will ultimately be appropriate,” Jolly wrote. “We are simply required to decide whether Officer Doe’s claim for relief is sufficiently plausible.”
What did Mckesson say?
In a statement, he told The Advocate: “I’m disappointed and troubled by the 5th Circuit’s reversal of the district court decision. I am currently exploring my legal options and will respond formally soon.”
Meanwhile, the police officer’s lawyer, Donna Grodner, called the ruling a “stand-up victory for the Baton Rouge PD.”
What is the background?
The police officer originally sued Black Lives Matter and five of the movement’s leaders. However, a federal judge tossed the lawsuit citing First Amendment rights and claimed Black Lives Matter was too loosely organized to be formally sued in federal court.
The officer was significantly injured during riots in July 2016 following the shooting death of Alton Sterling, a black man killed by two police officers.
Video footage of Sterling’s death, and his tense struggle with police preceding his death, would later go viral, triggering mass protests in Baton Rouge.