The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued something of a split decision today in an intermediate appeal of a ruling in a lawsuit over the gruesome case of Bobby Joe Rylee, who died in custody in the Pope County jail in Russellville in 2006 after a physical altercation with police officers. Offices stopped him at a Waffle House after receiving a report he'd been acting strangely. He was injured so badly before being subdued that he couldn't walk into the jail. Witnesses said he was beaten after he stopped resisting.
Arresting officers and jailers had all sought qualified immunity from suit. A district judge denied summary judgment for them. The 8th Circuit said there was a case to be taken to a jury on whether unnecessary force had been used in the arrest and about the cause of injuries -- the takedown move by two officers or subsequent blows.
But the court reversed in favor of immunity claims for jailers who were present as Rylee died from his injuries. They knew he was in bad shape, the court said, but were not indifferent to it, the court said. He refused medical help on one occasion and they checked on him several times before he died.