The US Supreme Court has given the green light for the use of force against police in a new class-action lawsuit that accuses them of violating the Fourth Amendment.
In a 7-2 decision, the high court on Monday ruled that the police must be held accountable for violations of citizens’ rights to be protected by the Constitution.
The court also overturned a lower court ruling that ruled that police officers cannot be held liable for wrongful death if they used excessive force to detain a suspect.
The case, filed by a group of black and Hispanic defendants in a Los Angeles County court, challenges police officers’ use of deadly force against protesters and is likely to have broader ramifications for policing in the United States.
The high court’s ruling was expected but was delayed after it was reviewed by the full court.
The decision, which was expected to be announced later this week, is a victory for the Black Lives Matter movement that has been waging a nationwide battle against police brutality.
The justices unanimously ruled that a federal lawsuit challenging the use-of-force policy is without merit, and that it is unlawful to use deadly force on anyone in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The four-member court had previously struck down a lower-court ruling that held that police could not be held legally liable for killing or injuring people who use their weapons against officers.
In its ruling Monday, the justices said the plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that police are violating the rights of individuals who have not been charged with a crime by the officers.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the group of plaintiffs, includes more than 400 individuals, mostly blacks and Latinos, who were arrested and charged with crimes in connection with a July 2017 protest against police shootings of black men in Missouri, Florida and Louisiana.
The officers involved in the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are among the plaintiffs.