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Dallas Police Officers in Tony Timpa Death Appeal Federal Court Ruling That Would Bring Case to Court

The appeal comes after a Dec. 15 decision from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which concluded that the lawsuit could be continued against the four officers who were on the scene.

to overturn a federal court ruling that four police officers could be held liable for the 2016 death of Tony Timpa, who pinned them to the ground for 14 minutes.

The challenge comes after a Dec. 15 decision from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which concluded that the lawsuit could be continued against the four officers who were on the scene:

Kevin Mansell, Danny Vasquez, Dustin Dillard and Raymond Dominguez. It is not clear how soon a decision on the appeal will be made.

In July 2020, Dallas judge David Godbey ruled that the officers were protected by qualified immunity in a lawsuit filed by Timpa’s family for excessive force during his death on August 10, 2016 when he called 911 for help.

Timpa, who struggled with anxiety and schizophrenia, told a coordinator that he hadn’t taken his meds and was under the influence of cocaine.

Police handcuffed him and laid him face down as he screamed and begged for help more than 30 times. Officers placed their weight on his back, tied his legs with zips and pinned him to the ground for 14 minutes.

After Timpa lost consciousness, the officers laughed and joked about waking him up so he wouldn’t be late for school. Qualified immunity has come under heavy fire after the murder of George Floyd last year.

The doctrine holds that plaintiffs must find a similar case showing the officer’s actions were unconstitutional.

The 5th Circuit panel said the officers are not entitled to qualified immunity when using force against someone who is being detained and restrained.

Attorneys for the City of Dallas said in their appeal that this case “includes cases of exceptional importance” following Floyd’s murder.

They argued that in response, police forces have changed their policies regarding sensitive coercive measures. They also argue that the officers’ actions in previous rulings were not necessarily considered unconstitutional and should therefore be protected by qualified immunity.

“These developments raise the question of whether, prior to the ongoing national debate, the law in this circuit clearly prohibits the prone tying with weight on the back of a restrained test subject, so that any officer would have known that such restraints are illegal.” according to the appeal.

The Dallas City Attorney’s Office, which represents the four officers, did not respond to a request for comment on the appeal. Geoff Henley, a lawyer for the Timpa family, said the dangers of coercive restraints have been documented for years.

“It takes guts to do this,” Henley said in a written statement. “While Minneapolis took responsibility for Derek Chauvin and settled the Floyd case for $27 million, Dallas is still trying to exonerate the officers who killed Tony and laughed while he lay dead.

” The news first revealed details of Timpa’s death in custody following a lengthy file fight with the Dallas Police Department after they withheld police videos of the incident.

In 2019, The News won a court order to obtain body camera images. Following The News’ 2017 investigation into Timpa’s death, a grand jury has indicted three Dallas officers — Mansell, Vasquez and Dillard — with fatal infractions. Later, civil rights leaders criticized prosecutor John Creuzot for dropping the cases.