Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioners.
Argument: This case asks whether a reasonable jury could find that police officers use excessive force when they kill a shackled and handcuffed arrestee inside of a jail cell by compression asphyxiation. The Eighth Circuit’s decision departs from an otherwise uniform national rule established by all other courts of appeals that have addressed the issue that the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments categorically prohibit the asphyxiation of a restrained arrestee or pre-trial detainee who poses no threat to officers or others. The national rule applied outside of the Eighth Circuit is the only rule that conforms to the Supreme Court’s cases governing the use of deadly force, is deeply rooted in the Fourth Amendment and prevailing common-law rules, and is consistent with statutes and law enforcement policies already in effect across American jurisdictions. Categorically prohibiting the use of deadly force, such as compression asphyxia, on restrained citizens is essential to the fair administration of criminal justice.