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Court Greenlights Case Against San Jose Police for Riot Injuries

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 31, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you know the way to San Jose, maybe you also know the song that sold millions in the 1960s.

Dionne Warwick made "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" famous on her way to her first Grammy and third Top Ten. She sang about how how great the city was -- but what a difference a generation makes.

If you go to San Jose today, you might run into police steering you into danger. That's what the plaintiffs say in Hernandez v. City of San Jose, a civil rights case that just got a green light from a federal appeals court.

A Violent Mob

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said Donald Trump supporters may proceed against San Jose officers who allegedly forced them into a violent mob in 2016. The plaintiffs claim police cut off their escape, and watched while protesters attacked them.

The city filed a motion to dismiss, claiming the officers had qualified immunity from the lawsuit. The judge denied the motion, and the city appealed.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed, 3-0. The judges said "the officers violated clearly established rights and are not entitled to qualified immunity at this stage of the proceedings."

Harmeet Dhillon, the plaintiffs' attorney, said the officers created the conflict. "There were another number of routes to safety that citizens could have taken and they were all blocked by the police," she said.

A Broken Nose

Juan Hernandez was one of more than a dozen plaintiffs who were injured in the fracas. He said he got a broken nose, a concussion, bruises and scratches.

"It was really scary because the cops aren't doing anything, they were just watching everything happen," he told ABC News. "They started coming to us and they attacked us, we weren't inciting anything, we weren't saying anything to them."

The case will proceed against seven officers, but not the police chief or the city. They have been dismissed.

Dhillon said the plaintiffs will ask the court for orders to ensure police don't do it again.

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