Days after Derek Chauvin was sentenced for murdering George Floyd by kneeling on him until he died, the Supreme Court vacated a ruling in Lombardo v. City of St. Louis that had said officers acted reasonably when engaging in similar behavior.
In a 6-3 decision, the court granted certiorari and told a lower court to take another look at the case brought by the parents of Nicholas Gilbert, who died in a St. Louis prison after being restrained by multiple officers who had him face down with pressure applied to his back and torso for 15 minutes. The Supreme Court said that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals failed to fully examine the situation.
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“We express no view as to whether the officers used unconstitutionally excessive force or, if they did, whether Gilbert’s right to be free of such force in these circumstances was clearly established at the time of his death,” the court said. “We instead grant the petition for certiorari, vacate the judgment of the Eighth Circuit, and remand the case to give the court the opportunity to employ an inquiry that clearly attends to the facts and circumstances in answering those questions in the first instance.”
The court’s ruling said that the court of appeals cited a case that said use of a “prone restraint” was “not objectively unreasonable” if the detainee was actively resisting. In this case, Gilbert struggled throughout an encounter with several officers that began after one believed Gilbert was trying to hang
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