ST. LOUIS (CN) – Michael Brown’s family does not have standing to seek declaratory judgment and injunctive relief from the Ferguson Police Department, a federal judge ruled.
Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, was shot to death by white Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014. The killing set off months of often violent protests and kick-started a national dialogue on racial profiling and excessive police force.
The Department of Justice investigated Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department’s policies and practices. While it found no grounds to charge Wilson with any civil rights violations, it found the police department had a pattern of targeting and harming African-Americans.
Brown’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Ferguson and Wilson on April 23. Citing the DOJ report, the complaint included a request for declaratory and injunctive relief, prohibiting Ferguson’s anti-African American patrol techniques and appointing a compliance monitor to oversee its use of force practices and procedures for five years.
Ferguson replied that Brown’s family lacked standing to make such a claim due to lack of any actual controversy.
U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber ruled on Dec. 9 that Brown’s death alone was not enough to gain standing for injunctive relief.
“Plaintiffs seek to impose upon the City the power of the federal court to regulate and oversee activities and procedures of the City, its police department, and officers by gaining injunctive relief,” Webber wrote. “But it is clear, past conduct and past injuries will not suffice to gain injunctive relief which extends into the future. The injury of Michael Brown, Jr.’s death is unable to establish injury in fact for the purposes of establishing standing for injunctive relief.”
Webber also found that Brown’s family failed to show imminent harm from the Ferguson Police Department’s actions.
“Plaintiffs state, in their Brief on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 25], ‘the argument before the Court at present is not the right vested directly in the children, but the rights vested in Michael Brown, Sr. and Lesley McSpadden as parents who have a constitutional right to their relationship with their children, and the potential for future loss of another child,'” Webber wrote. “Plaintiffs’ petition continues to make no mention of any children aside from the deceased Michael Brown, Jr. As such, the Court cannot consider the familial rights vested in Michael Brown, Sr. and Lesley McSpadden for their surviving children.”
Webber gave Brown’s family 20 days to file an amended complaint to outline and specifically detail their Equal Protection claims. The amended complaint cannot include any additional factual allegations.
Attorneys for Brown’s family were undeterred by the ruling.
“Plaintiffs’ fundamental and substantive counts based upon constitutional violations remain intact and viable, including the most significant counts of excessive force against Officer Darren Wilson and the City of Ferguson,” the Brown family legal team said in a statement.
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