In Forrester v. City of San Diego police confronted several antiabortion demonstrations.5 Protesters converged upon medical buildings, blocked entrances, filled stairwells and corridors, and prevented employees and patients from entering. When police attempted to remove them, the demonstrators passively resisted by remaining seated, refusing to move, and refusing to bear weight.
Before each arrest, the officers warned the demonstrators that they would be subject to pain compliance measures if they did not move, that such measures would hurt, and that they could reduce the pain by standing up, eliminating the tension on their wrists and arms. The officers then forcibly moved the arrestees by tightening police nunchaku, commonly known as "nunchuks," around their wrists until they stood up and walked. All arrestees complained of varying degrees of injury to their hands and arms, including bruises, a pinched nerve, and one broken wrist.
The Forrester court held that substantial evidence supported a jury verdict for the police and the city under the Graham reasonableness standard. First, the force consisted only of physical pressure administered on the demonstrators' limbs in increasing degrees, resulting in pain.
Second, although many of these crimes were misdemeanors, the city had a significant interest in preventing organized lawlessness. The police were justifiably worried about the risk of injury to the medical staff, patients of the clinic, and other protesters.
Third, police officers are not required to use the least intrusive degree of force possible. Each officer had the discretion to use force or not and, if deciding to do so, how much force to apply.
After the demonstrators ignored pleas to desist and warnings regarding pain compliance techniques, the officers used minimal and controlled force in a manner designed to limit injuries to all involved.