Federal judge in La. denies immunity for deputies accused of using excessive force on Black woman 

The woman, Teliah Perkins, alleges two New Orleans deputies also used excessive force on her teen son by shoving and threatening him with a taser as he recorded her arrest.

A lawsuit filed in New Orleans by the ACLU on behalf of a 39-year-old woman who alleges that she and her 14-year-old son were subjected to excessive force by police has been greenlighted to move forward after a federal judge rejected arguments that the deputies’ actions were protected.

According to NOLA.com, Teliah Perkins, who is Black, alleges that two white St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s deputies used excessive force on her during her 2020 arrest and on her son by shoving and threatening him with a taser when he began recording the arrest. The lawsuit contends race played a role in their treatment.

In a 41-page ruling, a U.S. District Court judge said qualified immunity does not apply to two New Orleans deputies because there were multiple instances during a 2020 arrest where constitutional rights were violated. (Photo: AdobeStock)

In her lawsuit, Perkins alleges that St. Tammany Parish deputies Kyle Hart and Ryan Moring violated her child’s First Amendment rights after arriving at her home in May of 2020. They were responding to an anonymous call about a woman riding a motorcycle without a helmet, an offense in the parish that’s punishable by a $50 fine. 

According to the suit, during the 30-minute encounter, officers pressed Perkins’ face “into the pavement and dug their knees and elbows into her back and legs.” Hart allegedly kept the woman pinned to the ground with his “forearm pressed into her windpipe,” even as she pleaded that she was unable to breathe. 

Her son recorded the incident and was reportedly shoved by deputies and threatened with a taser, the suit alleges. His mother was jailed overnight, booked on charges of resisting arrest and riding a motorcycle without a helmet or proof of insurance, charges that she denied and that were later dropped. 

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Wendy Vitter denied the deputies’ request for summary judgment in a 41-page ruling, saying qualified immunity does not apply because there were multiple instances where Perkins and her son had their constitutional rights violated, particularly in the case of the recording of the arrest. The Sheriff’s Office is appealing the decision, according to NOLA.com.

“This is a big win for not only Ms. Perkins, but also for the countless Black people who’ve been brutalized by Louisiana law enforcement,” Nora Ahmed, legal director of the ACLU of Louisiana, which is handling Perkins’ case, told NOLA.com. “We’ll never stop fighting on behalf of our communities of color, who have had enough of the oppressive policing practices that have devastated this state for years.”

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