A federal appeals panel is exploring whether cops’ lack of training on noise cannons used to disperse demonstrators can protect individual officers from lawsuits.
Three judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel heard arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit over the NYPD’s use of Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) during a December 2014 protest that erupted after a grand jury decided not to indict any cops in the death of Eric Garner, who was put in a fatal chokehold by a Staten Island officer.
Five of the protesters later sued the city, NYPD and cops they said deployed an LRAD on them, alleging they suffered pain, migraines and nausea from the sound blast.
The protesters’ Manhattan Federal Court complaint also claimed that the NYPD provided inadequate training over LRAD use – enabling alleged violations of Constitutional rights.
A city lawyer asked the judges to throw out civil claims against the cops, saying they can’t be held liable if they didn’t knowingly do anything wrong.
Senior Judge John Walker repeatedly questioned Gideon Oliver, who reps the protesters, on the training issue.
“If an officer is not given proper training, how are these officers to know that what they’re doing might violate the Constitution?” Walker asked.
Oliver said that cops operating the LRAD would have seen instructions on the back of these devices, warning them not to deploy sound too closely to protesters.
“Your point is that these officers are incompetent, or that they knowingly violated the law?” Walker asked.
Judge Rosemary Pooler seemed skeptical that potential incompetence could let cops off the hook.
“They need training to read the label on the device?” Pooler asked.
“A person does not need training not to drop a hair dryer in a bathtub,” Oliver said.