From the Washington Post: A federal appeals court has ruled that a former Oklahoma police officer convicted of torturing a mentally disabled man for nearly five years should be allowed to live in the United States.
In a 4-2 decision Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that former Officer James Craig Thompson violated the 1819 Fugitive Slave Law when he detained and abused Timothy Coulombs, a mentally retarded man who was held captive in his Oklahoma City home.
Thompson was sentenced to a decade in prison in 2014 for torturing Couloms, who was blind and deaf, for nearly two years in 2014.
The case drew national attention, with the NAACP calling for Thompson to be convicted for what it called a hate crime.
But Thompson has denied the allegations and has said he was motivated by a desire to find a job.
In April, a federal judge denied Thompson’s request to stay his conviction.
The ruling said the U.T.L. law, enacted in the 19th century, does not prevent a law enforcement officer from lawfully detaining an individual if that person is deemed a fugitive by a court, as Thompson did.
“The Fugitive Slavery Act does not prohibit a law-enforcement officer from forcibly entering a residence in order to arrest a person suspected of committing a crime,” Judge David W. Johnson wrote in the ruling.
“The law merely requires that a police officer conduct a reasonable investigation into the suspect before detaining him.”
The ruling was made after the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether to hear a similar case from another federal appeals panel.