SCOTUS rules against GR man in excessive force suit

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against a Grand Rapids man’s lawsuit against two federal officers who tackled and punched him after mistaking him for a home invasion suspect.

In July 2014, King, then a student at Grand Valley State University, was walking to his internship in Grand Rapids when he was approached by two officers in plainclothes who were looking for a home invasion suspect.

They asked for his name and then his wallet. King tried to run, saying he thought he was getting mugged. The officers tackled and then punched him.

King was charged with resisting officers but was acquitted.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled unanimously against James King, citing conflicts between his first lawsuit, which was dismissed, and an amended one, which made it through the Court of Appeals.

However, King’s attorney, Patrick Jaicomo with the Institute of Justice, said there’s still a path forward for their case.

“This is only a technical win for the government, because its goal in this was to have James’ case thrown out.”

Jaicomo said the Supreme Court has ordered a federal appeals court to take another look at a portion of the case, giving King the potential to one day have his argument presented before a jury. 

“The Supreme Court could’ve very easily just said the government wins this case, it’s over. But instead, it said the government is right about this esoteric issue of jurisdiction, but there are issues remaining that need to be decided by the Sixth Circuit (court),” Jaicomo said. 

With a possible path forward, King and his attorney are staying focused on the big picture.

“The ultimate resolution of this case will have an impact on how difficult or easy it is for any person in the United States to bring a lawsuit against any federal worker who violates their constitutional rights,” Jaicomo said.

News 8 spoke to King Thursday following the ruling. Seven years and a Supreme Court ruling later, King said his desire to make change motivates him to stay the course.

“It has messed with me emotionally, financially, psychologically in every way,” King said. “I still deal with those problems seven and a half years later and I can’t imagine what entire communities of people must feel that go through this kind of injustices day in and day out.”

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