A federal appeals court on Friday allowed Donald Trump supporters to proceed with a lawsuit against San Jose police, claiming officers led them into a crowd of protesters.
Three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that Juan Hernandez has grounds to sue the San Jose Police Department over the way it managed the fallout from a June 2, 2016, rally for then-presidential candidate Trump.
Nineteen Trump fans represented by Republican Party official Harmeet Dhillon sued the city and individual officers, accusing police of “shepherding” them into the fray and blocking their escape from assaultive protesters.
The justices ruled that the plaintiffs “have alleged sufficiently that the officers increased the danger to them” and acted with “deliberate indifference to that danger.”
Hernandez alleges that city officials were politically motivated to let the protesters duke it out, according to news reports. He claims that police stood by for 90 minutes before trying to break up the fights and make arrests. Officers, however, argued that they feared the violence would escalate if they reacted more aggressively.
The judicial panel rejected the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. San Jose’s City Council will have to decide how to move forward, whether that means taking the case to the entire 9th Circuit, appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court or going to trial.