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Federal appeals court rejects police immunity claim in protest lawsuit

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] refused to grant immunity Friday to two police officials named in a lawsuit filed on behalf of 386 people who were roped off at Pershing Park and arrested during protests [DC Watch report] at the World Bank-International Monetary Fund annual meeting in 2002. Metropolitan Police [official website] Assistant Chief Peter Newsham [official profile] ordered police officers to cordon off the park two blocks away from the White House when he observed some protesters committing acts of vandalism, but failed to give two mandatory warnings to the crowd before erecting the cordon and making arrests. In the opinion [PDF text], the appeals court said that it could not determine whether Police Chief Charles Ramsey [official website] deserved immunity as a public official because it is not clear whether he knew what happened in the park before he arrived, but affirmed a trial judge's ruling [PDF text] that Newsham can be sued for violating the constitutional rights of the people that were arrested and charged with failing to obey a police officer. AP has more.

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