The National Police Association has asked the Eighth Circuit to accept an amicus brief, written on behalf of the City of Ferguson, Missouri; former Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, and former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, supporting their motion to dismiss in the case of Johnson v. City of Ferguson, et al.
The issues we comment upon involve whether Plaintiff Johnson was seized at the time that Officer Wilson had only ordered him to get off the street, and whether the qualified immunity rule applies. The Brief argues Plaintiff Johnson was not seized and that the qualified immunity rule should apply.
On August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown,was a suspect in a theft from a retail store. Brown was accompanied at the store by the plaintiff in this lawsuit, Dorian Johnson. Defendant Wilson testified after encountering Brown and Johnson, Brown attacked Wilson in his vehicle and a fight commenced over control of Wilson's handgun. Brown and Johnson then fled, with Wilson in pursuit. Brown was fatally shot by Wilson.
Violent protests followed. Repeating false claims that Brown had surrendered before he was shot, protesters chanted, "Hands up, don't shoot." Protests, vandalism and looting, continued for over a week in Ferguson.
On March 4, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice reported the conclusion of its own investigation. It found forensic evidence supported Wilson’s testimony and that witnesses who corroborated Wilson’s account were credible.
On April 29, 2015, Johnson filed this lawsuit seeking money damages against the defendants.
In the aftermath of these events an erroneous narrative of police misconduct, now known as the “Ferguson Effect”, has become so prevalent as to embolden suspects to refuse to comply with police commands, instigate violence against officers and bring civil actions against police who are guilty of nothing more than doing their job. The result has been a reduction in proactive law enforcement by agencies across the country and corresponding increases in crime.
The Fourth Amendment issues and consequences to individual law enforcement officers in this case are of the utmost importance - importance not only to those who dedicate their careers and place their lives in harms way to protect their fellow citizens but to those citizens and their communities. It is the responsibility of the National Police Association to raise these issues and by doing so serve the interests of those who serve us all so selflessly.
The amicus brief is available here