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Case Name Ahmad v. City of St. Louis PN-MO-0008
Docket / Court 4:17-cv-02455 ( E.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
This case arose from protests that followed a police officer's acquittal on murder charges filed after the officer killed a suspect in 2011. On September 22, 2017, two protesters filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The plaintiffs alleged ... read more >
This case arose from protests that followed a police officer's acquittal on murder charges filed after the officer killed a suspect in 2011. On September 22, 2017, two protesters filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The plaintiffs alleged that they were subjected to unlawful retaliation after exercising their right to engage in First Amendment protected activity, including the right to record police officers in public places. The plaintiffs sued the City of St. Louis under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, including claims of unlawful seizure, excessive force, and procedural due process claims.

Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, the plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and permanent injunction requiring the City of St. Louis to behave constitutionally when declaring protests “unlawful assemblies” and ordering protesters “to disperse.” The case was assigned to District Judge Ronnie L. White, who set the first hearing for about two weeks later. Before that hearing, the plaintiffs filed an an amended complaint (in which they removed some of the original parties to the case) and a motion for a preliminary injunction (mooting out the earlier request for a temporary restraining order). The preliminary injunction sought to prevent officers from giving any order of dispersal in the absence of the use of force or violence and to prevent enforcement of an order of dispersal without first allowing sufficient opportunity to exit the area. The plaintiffs also wished to prohibit the unlawful utilization of chemical agents, such as tear gas, and to prohibit retaliation against any individual who photographs or records law enforcement officials in the course of their duty.

On October 5, 2017, plaintiffs moved to certify a class. The class definition would consist of all persons who will observe, record, or participate in protest activity within the City of St. Louis in a traditional or designated public forum.

On October 13, 2017, plaintiffs moved to disqualify Judge White because of Judge White’s relationships with the City Counselor’s Office and concerns of partiality. On that same day, the court granted the request; District Judge Catherine D. Perry replaced Judge White.

Judge Perry held a hearing over two days in October, and on November 15, 2017, granted the preliminary injunction, noting the video, photographic, and documentary evidence introduced of police misconduct. 2017 WL 547840. The preliminary injunction prohibited the defendant and its agents from declaring unlawful an otherwise lawful assembly and prohibited the use of chemical agents against persons engaged in expressive, non-violent activity in the City of St. Louis in the absence of probable cause and without granting adequate warning and sufficient opportunity to exit the area. (2017 WL 5478410). On that same day, the court referred the case to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and mediation.

On May 4, 2018, the court (Judge Perry) ordered that ADR shall conclude before June 1, 2019 and scheduled a bench trial set for September 26, 2019.

The plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Complaint on September 5, 2019. The plaintiffs then filed another motion to certify a class in accordance with the Second Amended Complaint. On May 7, 2019, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion but ordered that the class be defined so as to exclude protestors who engaged in violent, unlawful activity. 2019 WL 2009589. The defendants appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

The defendants filed a motion to dissolve the preliminary injunctive relief granted to plaintiffs. The defendants argued that changed circumstances -- including suits for damages against the defendants, evidence revealed during discovery, and the lack of any ongoing protest activity -- warranted the dissolution of the preliminary injunction. On May 15, 2019, the court denied the motion, finding that the defendants were trying to relitigate the preliminary injunction motion with new counsel.

In light of the defendants' appeal of the district court's decision to grant class certification, the defendants filed a motion to stay the case pending appeal. On July 12, 2019, the district court granted the defendants' motion, thereby delaying the scheduled bench trial. 2019 WL 3068046. The appeal is currently pending before the Eighth Circuit.

Jake Parker - 05/22/2018
Hope Brinn - 05/12/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Required disclosure
Retaliation Prohibition
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
General
Excessive force
Pepper/OC spray
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of St. Louis
Plaintiff Description All persons who will observe, record, or participate in protest activity within the City of St. Louis in a traditional or designated public forum.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2017 - n/a
Filed 09/22/2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Judge limits St. Louis police tactics like chemical agents used in protests
http://www.stltoday.com
Date: November 2017
By: Robert Patrick (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Citation: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/federal-judge-restricts-st-louis-police-conduct-during-protests/article_32df73a2-26e9-5478-bb20-34ad5f512e0d.html?utm_content=bufferece41&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=LEEDC
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
19-2221 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
PN-MO-0008-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/23/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
4:17-cv-2455 (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-MO-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/22/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Prospective Relief [ECF# 9]
PN-MO-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order of Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 57] (2017 WL 5478410) (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0008-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/15/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint for Prospective Relief [ECF# 90]
PN-MO-0008-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/05/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 157] (2019 WL 2009589) (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0008-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/07/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 159] (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0008-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 191] (2019 WL 3068046) (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0008-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/12/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Perry, Catherine D. (E.D. Mo.) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-0003 | PN-MO-0008-0005 | PN-MO-0008-0006 | PN-MO-0008-0007 | PN-MO-0008-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Praiss, Omri E. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000 | PN-MO-0008-9001
Rothert, Anthony [Tony] E. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-0001 | PN-MO-0008-0002 | PN-MO-0008-0004 | PN-MO-0008-9000 | PN-MO-0008-9001
Steffan, Jessie (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-0001 | PN-MO-0008-0002 | PN-MO-0008-0004 | PN-MO-0008-9000 | PN-MO-0008-9001
Wilcox, Gillian R. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-0001 | PN-MO-0008-0002 | PN-MO-0008-0004 | PN-MO-0008-9000 | PN-MO-0008-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Bruyns, Megan Kathleen G. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000
Dierker, Robert H. Jr. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000 | PN-MO-0008-9001
Duncan, Abby J. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000 | PN-MO-0008-9001
Laird, Brandon D. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000 | PN-MO-0008-9001
McDonnell, Thomas R. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000
Raimondo, Amy M. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000 | PN-MO-0008-9001
Relys, H. Anthony (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000
Other Lawyers Ellinger-Locke, Margaret E. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000
Mass, Laurence D. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000
Waldron, John McCann (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0008-9000

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