Supporters of presidential candidate Donald Trump who were roughed up by protesters at a June 2016 campaign rally in San Jose can sue the city and its police for allegedly putting them in danger and then failing to protect them, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.
If the allegations are true, “the officers acted with deliberate indifference to a known and obvious danger” and violated the Trump supporters’ constitutional rights,” said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
After the rally at the McEnery Convention Center, police directed those in attendance to leave from a single exit. There, according to the lawsuit, they were ordered to head out onto a street where hundreds of anti-Trump protesters were waiting, even though a safer route and other exits were available.
Twenty plaintiffs in the suit said they were beaten or struck by objects thrown by the protesters, and one plaintiff said an officer told her that police had been instructed not to intervene. The plaintiffs said police arrested three people for allegedly assaulting officers, but no one for attacking Trump supporters.
Harmeet Dhillon, a Republican national committeewoman who is the lawyer for the Trump supporters, said she was pleased the court “agreed with us that, where police put citizens into harm’s way, they can be held liable for the consequences.” The lawsuit, she said, “seeks to vindicate important civil rights of all Americans.”