Vox: “The video is horrific. George Floyd lies on the ground, facing the back end of a police SUV, as three cops kneel on his body. One of them, Derek Chauvin, has his knee on Floyd’s neck as the helpless man begs for his life. “I can’t breathe, man. Please understand. Please, man.” It’s a sadly familiar scene, and quite like one that played out in 1976 after Los Angeles police officers pulled over Adolph Lyons for a broken taillight. Like Floyd, Lyons was black. The officers met him with guns drawn and ordered him to face the car, spread his legs, and place his hands on top of his head. Not long after Lyons complained that a ring of keys that he held in his hands was causing him pain, one of the officers wrapped his forearm around Lyons’s throat and began to choke him. Lyons passed out. He woke up facedown on the ground, covered in his own urine and feces. The officers released him with a citation for the broken taillight.
- Lyons brought a federal lawsuit against the city and officers who assaulted him. But that case, City of Los Angeles v. Lyons (1983), did not end well for him. Decades later, the 5-4 decision still stands as one of the greatest obstacles to civil rights lawyers challenging police brutality in cases like George Floyd’s…”