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Excessive Force

September 12, 2013

Terry Sides and successfully defended another federal court excessive force case filed against a South Alabama city, its mayor, police chief, and four of its police officers. The plaintiff claimed that after his nighttime armed robbery of a gas station, the four police officers pursued him to an area bordered by a dirt road with a chain link fence topped with barbed wire, which he climbed across to get to his vehicle to escape. He further claimed that before reaching his vehicle, one of the officers approached him with his gun pointed at him and demanded that he put his hands up, and that he complied with the officer's demand. He claimed that officer then ran toward him, rammed him into the fence, pushed him to the ground, put his knee in his back, and that a second officer then arrived on the scene and put his knees and weight into his back as he was being handcuffed. During these events, the plaintiff's right eye was permanently blinded, which he claimed occurred because of the first officer pushing him to the ground. The plaintiff sought a judgment against the defendants for $20,000,000, and an injunction barring the police officers from continuing to work in law enforcement. The court, however, disagreed with the plaintiff and ruled in favor of all defendants, concluding that even if the plaintiff's claims were assumed true and viewed in the light most favorable to him, the force used by the officers was not objectively excessive and did not otherwise rise to the level of a violation of the plaintiff's constitutional rights. Judgment was entered in favor of the city, its mayor, police chief, and the four police officers. The case was dismissed.

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