Filed - December 21, 2018
Mr. Jones was in his own apartment building when a group of NYPD officers attempted to arrest him for a suspected drug transaction.
In response to Mr. Jones’s slightest resistance—insisting on an explanation for his arrest—the officers used an escalating battery of force: from a nightstick, to pepper spray, to shooting Taser prongs into his back and twice surging electricity into his body.
Mr. Jones brought a civil rights action and, following a trial, a jury found one of the officers liable for excessive force and awarded punitive damages. However, the district court promptly set aside the jury’s verdict, granting qualified immunity to the officer. We were brought in on appeal and won a unanimous reversal of the district court’s decision, thereby reinstating the jury’s verdict.
In ruling for Mr. Jones, the Second Circuit held that clearly established law prohibits an officer from using “significant force, such as a Taser, against an individual who is no longer resisting arrest or posing a threat to the officers or others,” and that an officer who uses such force is not entitled to the shield of qualified immunity.
We won an appeal concerning the NYPD’s use of a taser against our client, Matthew Jones. The Second Circuit held that the defendant NYPD officer violated clearly established law by tasing our client, setting important precedent governing accountability for unjustified use of tasers. The court also reinstated Mr. Jones’s excessive force verdict and punitive damage award.