On The Front Lines
Fourth Amendment Victory: Federal Court Upholds Contempt of Cop Lawsuit Alleging Police Punched Compliant Driver 20+ Times in Head & Body
SHREVEPORT, La. — A federal court has given the green light to a “contempt of cop” lawsuit filed by The Rutherford Institute on behalf of a young African-American man who, despite complying with police orders during a traffic stop for a broken taillight, was slammed to the ground face-first and pummeled by police officers. In rejecting a request by police to dismiss the claims that police officers violated Gregory Tucker’s constitutional rights when they allegedly used grossly excessive force during what should have been a routine traffic stop, the Louisiana federal court is allowing The Rutherford Institute’s Fourth Amendment lawsuit to move forward. According to the video footage of the incident, Tucker was stopped by police in Dec. 2016 for a broken taillight, only to be thrown to the ground, beaten and punched in the face and body more than 20 times, then arrested and hospitalized for severe injuries to his face and arm, all for allegedly “resisting arrest” by driving to a safe, well-lit area before stopping.
The court’s ruling rejecting the motion for summary judgment in Gregory V. Tucker v. City of Shreveport, is available at www.rutherford.org. Affiliate attorney Gregory J. Chiartano assisted The Rutherford Institute in its defense of Gregory Tucker.
“This case is a chilling reminder that in the American police state, ‘we the people’ are at the mercy of law enforcement officers who have almost absolute discretion to decide who is a threat, what constitutes resistance, and how harshly they can deal with the citizens they were appointed to ‘serve and protect,’” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People. “What this case makes painfully clear is how easy it is for Americans to be charged with any of the growing number of contempt of cop charges (ranging from resisting arrest and interference to disorderly conduct, obstruction, and failure to obey a police order) that get trotted out any time a citizen exhibits anything short of total compliance to the police state.”
In the early morning hours of December 1, 2016, an officer with the City of Shreveport Police Department spotted Gregory Tucker driving within the city, observed that one of the taillights on Tucker’s vehicle was not working, and used the lights on his police vehicle to signal Tucker to pull over. Because he did not feel safe stopping immediately, Tucker drove calmly and slowly for a couple minutes more to a safe, well-lit area in front of his cousin’s house where he parked his car. The police officer then ordered Tucker out of his vehicle, and after stepping out, immediately placed Tucker under arrest for “resisting” and searched his person and his vehicle. Tucker was then ordered to move to the front of the police vehicle and to place his hands on its hood. During this time, Tucker expressed his frustration to the officer over his treatment. Upon arriving on the scene, two other police officers walked up behind Tucker, grabbed his arms to restrain him and began placing handcuffs on Tucker. A third police officer also arrived on the scene. According to police dash cam footage, Tucker was then thrown to the ground and punched numerous times in the head and body. The police also yelled repeatedly at Tucker to “quit resisting.” Tucker, bleeding with injuries to his face, head and arm, was then placed into the back of a police vehicle. EMTs were called to treat Tucker, and he was eventually taken to the hospital. Denouncing the use of “contempt of cop” charges as a means of justifying the use of excessive force by police, The Rutherford Institute sued the City of Shreveport and the arresting officers in November 2017, seeking damages for the “use of excessive force” and unreasonable seizures.
The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties organization, provides legal assistance at no charge to individuals whose constitutional rights have been threatened or violated.