June 17, 2024

Judge bans Detroit police tactics against protesters

DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge late Friday temporarily barred Detroit police from using tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, shields, chokeholds or sound cannons against peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters after a group accused the city for excessive force.

U.S. District Court Judge Laurie Michelson partially granted a temporary restraining order filed Monday by Detroit Will Breathe against the city of Detroit, accusing police of using excessive force to deter protesters from practicing their free speech rights. The order will be in effect for at least 14 days.

“It’s a win but the fight continues,” said Jack Schulz, who filed the lawsuit for Detroit Will Breathe. “For a short period, we know that the police will not be able to use the brutal tactics they have in the past against peaceful protesters without violating a court order.”

Protesters and Detroit Riot Police officers engage in an escalating series of confrontations in Downtown Detroit following a day of protests for the death of George Floyd on May 29, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Police Chief James Craig said the order won’t change how his department handles protests because officers have used force only when protesters weren’t peaceful.

READ MORE: AG William Barr says Jacob Blake shooting may have been justified

A spokesman for the city of Detroit didn’t immediately have a response to Friday’s ruling

After reviewing videos of police interactions with protesters, Michelson determined that some protesters could win their case.

“These videos, buttressed by the testimonial evidence, establishes that at least some Plaintiffs have a likelihood of success on their claims that the DPD used excessive force against them,” she wrote.

Demonstrators protest against police brutality for a second day following a night of confrontations between protesters and riot police on May 30, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, alleges that Detroit police used batons, shields and rubber bullets to crack bones, cause lumps and concussions, collapse lungs other injuries that left protesters hospitalized and disoriented during demonstrations that started on May 29, days after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd.

READ MORE: Video in Black man’s suffocation shows cops put hood on him

Under Michelson’s order, Detroit police are prohibited from:

– Dispersing chemicals, including pepper spray and tear gas, absent a verbal warning and a reasonable amount of time to disseminate

– Using batons or shields to hit peaceful protesters who aren’t posing a physical threat to public safety or police

– Placing protesters in chokeholds

– Arresting protesters in groups without probable cause or tightening zip ties or handcuffs to cause injury

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