In a police abuse or excessive force complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against an officer, a knee on the back may constitute a meaningful personal
intrusion when it causes injury.
In assessing the governmental interest in use of force, the court considers
(1) whether the suspect posed an immediate threat to the safety of the
officers or others, (2) the severity of the crime at issue, and (3) whether
the suspect was actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest
If the Plaintiff no longer posed a threat when he was lying down under
clearly established law, a knee on the back may constitute a meaningful
personal intrusion when it causes injury—LaLonde v. County of Riverside,
204 F.3d 947 (9th Cir. 2000).
The severity of the injuries that could result from a knee in the back
of a prone arrestee could be broken bones to death. Common method of death
is restrain asphyxia or positional asphyxia.
Additionally, other officers including any supervisors who were present,
could be liable for failing to intervene.
If you or someone you know was injured or killed during an arrest by police, please
contact us for a free consultation.