Immunity and Accountability

Matthew Locke v. County of Hubbard

Brief Details

Brian Morris
Patrick Jaicomo
Senior Attorney
Anya Bidwell
Senior Attorney
Date Filed
Original Court
United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit
Current Court
United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit

Matthew Locke chained himself to a piece of construction equipment as part of a protest against an oil pipeline that he opposed. When police arrived to clear the protesters, instead of waiting on the "cut team" so they could safely remove the protesters from the equipment, they took matters into their own hands. Police went protester to protester pressing on pressure points on them. The techniques used on Matthew were so harsh that the right side of his face drooped, he could not blink his right eye, and half his face went completely numb. He and the other protesters were eventually cut off the equipment safely by the cut team.

When Matthew brought excessive force claims under Section 1983, the court held the officers were entitled to qualified immunity, because similar cases did not exactly match the facts of his case.

Now, IJ has submitted an amicus brief explaining why this interpretation of qualified immunity is wrong.