U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Ferguson Police to Stand Trial

Dorian Johnson will get his day in court against Ferguson police for using excessive force that killed his friend three years ago.

Johnson was not injured in the incident but sued for civil rights violations and "unconstitutional law-enforcement practices." The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, turning away an appeal by the city in Johnson v. City of Ferguson, ruled that his case will go forward.

Michael Brown was not as fortunate. He died of gunshot wounds as he ran that day on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.

Wounds Not Healed

The violence sparked a wave of protests against police brutality across the country. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was unarmed when Officer Darren Wilson shot him.

Prosecutors did not file charges against the officer, who said Brown attacked and charged him. Johnson, who had been walking with Brown, said he saw everything.

Brown's family settled a civil suit against Ferguson last month, but the wounds have not healed. Johnson's case has kept a national debate alive.

More than 1,000 protesters marched as part of a National March on Ferguson in 2014. In Johnson's lawsuit, he blames the police department for failing to train and supervise its officers.

A Dissent

The defendants said that Johnson couldn't prove a constitutional violation and that they were immune from liability. A trial judge ruled against them, and the appeals court affirmed and remanded.

However, Judge Roger Leland Wollman dissented. He said Johnson had no case because he ran when the officer told him to stop.

"Johnson's status during his flight from Officer Wilson was like that of the moonshine-carrying defendant's during the course of his flight..." he wrote.

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