Lombardo v. St. Louis, 594 U.S. ___ (2021)
Officers arrested Gilbert for trespassing, took him to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and placed him in a holding cell. An officer saw Gilbert tie a piece of clothing around the cell bars and put it around his neck, in an apparent suicide attempt. Three officers entered Gilbert’s cell, eventually brought Gilbert to a kneeling position over a concrete bench, and handcuffed his arms behind his back. Gilbert kicked the officers and hit his head on the bench. They shackled his legs. Six officers moved Gilbert to a prone position, face down on the floor. Three officers held Gilbert down at the shoulders, biceps, and legs; at least one placed pressure on Gilbert’s back and torso. Gilbert tried to raise his chest, saying, “‘It hurts. Stop.’” After 15 minutes of struggling, Gilbert’s breathing became abnormal; he stopped moving. The officers rolled Gilbert onto his back and found no pulse; they performed chest compressions and rescue breathing. An ambulance transported Gilbert to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. In an “excessive force” suit, the Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the officers.
The Supreme Court vacated. The excessive force inquiry requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including the relationship between the need for the use of force and the amount of force used; the extent of the plaintiff’s injury; any effort by the officer to limit the amount of force; the severity of the underlying security problem; the threat reasonably perceived by the officer; and whether the plaintiff was actively resisting. Here, the court either failed to analyze or found insignificant, details such as that Gilbert was already handcuffed and shackled when placed in the prone position, that officers kept him in that position for 15 minutes, and that St. Louis instructs its officers that pressing down on the back of a prone subject can cause suffocation. The lower court’s opinion could be read to treat Gilbert’s “ongoing resistance” as controlling as a matter of law. Such a per se rule would contravene the careful, context-specific analysis required by precedent.
In an excessive force case, brought by the estate of a detainee who died while being restrained in a prone position, the Supreme Court rejects a "per se" approach based on the detainee's ongoing resistance.
|Sep 17, 2020||Petition for a writ of certiorari filed. (Response due October 26, 2020)
|Oct 26, 2020||Brief of respondents City of St. Louis, et al. in opposition filed.
|Oct 26, 2020||Brief amici curiae of Restore the Fourth, Inc., et al. filed.
|Oct 26, 2020||Brief amici curiae of The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, et al. filed.
|Oct 26, 2020||Brief amici curiae of Policing Scholars filed.
|Nov 10, 2020||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 12/4/2020.|
|Nov 12, 2020||Reply of petitioners Jody Lombardo, et al. filed. (Distributed)
|Nov 30, 2020||Rescheduled.|
|Dec 7, 2020||Rescheduled.|
|Dec 7, 2020||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 12/11/2020.|
|Jan 4, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Jan 4, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 1/8/2021.|
|Jan 11, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Jan 11, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 1/15/2021.|
|Jan 19, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Jan 19, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 1/22/2021.|
|Feb 12, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 2/19/2021.|
|Feb 16, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Feb 22, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Feb 22, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 2/26/2021.|
|Mar 1, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Mar 1, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 3/5/2021.|
|Mar 15, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Mar 15, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 3/19/2021.|
|Mar 22, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 3/26/2021.|
|Mar 23, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Mar 29, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Mar 29, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 4/1/2021.|
|Apr 12, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Apr 12, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 4/16/2021.|
|Apr 19, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 4/23/2021.|
|Apr 21, 2021||Rescheduled.|
|Apr 26, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 4/30/2021.|
|Apr 29, 2021||Supplemental brief of petitioners Jody Lombardo, et al. filed.
|May 10, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 5/13/2021.|
|May 12, 2021||Record Requested.|
|May 17, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 5/20/2021.|
|May 20, 2021||Record received from the U.S.C.A. 8th Circuit (1 box).|
|May 24, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 5/27/2021.|
|Jun 1, 2021||Record received from the U.S.D.C. Eastern District of Missouri (1 envelope).|
|Jun 1, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 6/3/2021.|
|Jun 7, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 6/10/2021.|
|Jun 14, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 6/17/2021.|
|Jun 21, 2021||DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 6/24/2021.|
|Jun 28, 2021||The Court expresses no view as to whether the officers used unconstitutionally excessive force or, if they did, whether Gilbert's right to be free of such force in these circumstances was clearly established at the time of his death. The Court instead grants the petition for certiorari, vacates the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and remands the case to give the court the opportunity to employ an inquiry that clearly attends to the facts and circumstances in answering those questions in the first instance. Opinion per curiam. (Detached Opinion) Justice Alito, with whom Justice Thomas and Justice Gorsuch join, dissenting. (Detached Opinion)|