Tony Timpa died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for 14 minutes. A court originally denied his family the right to sue.
Civil rights attorneys say that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals – which hears appeals from federal courts in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana – is where righteous police misconduct cases go to die.
But earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit issued a decision in a case, Timpa v. Dillard, that offers renewed hope that people whose constitutional rights have been violated can get justice in court.
Tony Timpa called the Dallas police in August 2016 to ask for help. The 32-year-old, white, college-educated executive was off the medication he usually took for anxiety and schizophrenia, as he told the police dispatcher.
But when five Dallas police officers arrived on the side of the road where Timpa was, they did not give him the help he needed. Instead, they handcuffed him behind his back, zip-tied his feet, and Officer Dustin Dillard put his knee and bodyweight on Timpa’s back.