Judge puts limits on police tactics in Missouri

24 PHOTOS
Ferguson post-decision protests
See Gallery
Judge puts limits on police tactics in Missouri
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A Ferguson firefighter surveys rubble at a strip mall that was set on fire when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DELLWOOD, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A car burns behind a business during rioting on November 25, 2014 in Dellwood, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. His death has sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. A grand jury today declined to indict officer Wilson. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A protestor spits after being hit by tear gas in her car after the riot erupted when the Grand Jury announced they will not indict white Officer Daren Wilson in the shooting death of black 18-year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. on November 24, 2014. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DELLWOOD, MO - NOVEMBER 25: Cars which were set on fire when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case sit on a lot on November 25, 2014 in Dellword Missouri. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DELLWOOD, MO - NOVEMBER 25: Cars which were set on fire when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case sit on a lot on November 25, 2014 in Dellword Missouri. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DELLWOOD, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A sign sits amidst rubble at a building that was damaged during a demonstration on November 25, 2014 in Dellwood, Missouri. Demonstrators caused extensive damage in Ferguson and surrounding areas last night after a St. Louis County grand jury decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Riot police run past a burning St. Louis County police car as hundreds of protesters gather after an announcement that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will not be indicted in the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown day, November 24, 2014, in Ferguson, MO. The shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old by white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, has captivated the nation as a grand jury deliberated to decide whether to charge the officer with a crime. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A car drives by a burning building during a demonstration on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. His death has sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. A grand jury today declined to indict officer Wilson. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: Workers board up a window of a restaurant after it was smashed when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DELLWOOD, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A reporter looks through the window of a laundromat that was damaged during a demonstration on November 25, 2014 in Dellwood, Missouri. Demonstrators caused extensive damage in Ferguson and surrounding areas last night after a St. Louis County grand jury decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 25: A Ferguson firefighter surveys damage to a strip mall that was set on fire when rioting erupted following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. At least 12 buildings were torched and more than 50 people were arrested during the night-long rioting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A demonstrator flashes the victory sign before a burning police car during clashes between police and protesters over the decision in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 24, 2014. US President Barack Obama urged calm as violent protests broke out on the streets of Ferguson after a grand jury decided a white policeman will not face charges for killing a black teen. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A police car burns during clashes between police and protesters over the decision in the shooting death 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 24, 2014. US President Barack Obama urged calm as violent protests broke out on the streets of Ferguson after a grand jury decided a white policeman will not face charges for killing a black teen. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Lesley McSpadden (L), mother of Michael Brown, reacts to hearing a grand jury decision over the 18-year-old unarmed black teenager's death, shot by a white police officer, in Ferguson on November 24, 2014. Protesters set buildings ablaze and looted stores in the US town of Ferguson on November 24 after a grand jury chose not to press charges against a white officer who shot dead a black teen. AFP PHOTO/Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Police confront protestors after rioting broke out following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. His death has sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. A grand jury today declined to indict officer Wison. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Police confront protestors after rioting broke out following the grand jury announcement in the Michael Brown case on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. His death has sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. A grand jury today declined to indict officer Wison. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: A police officer stands with a shotgun during a demonstration on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A police car burns after being set on fire during clashes between police and protesters over decision in the shooting death 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 24, 2014. US President Barack Obama urged calm as violent protests broke out on the streets of Ferguson after a grand jury decided a white policeman will not face charges for killing a black teen. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: A police officer points a shotgun at protestors during a demonstration on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Protesters attempt to tip over a police car during a demonstration on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: A protestor stands in front of police vehicles with his hands up during a demonstration on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. A St. Louis County grand jury has decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown that sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri in August. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Police detain a demonstrator amid tear gas during a demonstration to protest the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 24, 2014. US President Barack Obama urged calm on November 24 as violent protests broke out on the streets of Ferguson after a grand jury decided a white policeman will not face charges for killing a black teen. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Police points his rifle at demonstrators after a grand jury decided a white policeman will not face charges for killing a black teen on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. US President Barack Obama urged calm on November 24 as violent protests broke out on the streets of Ferguson after a grand jury decided a white policeman will not face charges for killing a black teen. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - NOVEMBER 24: Demonstrators block an intersection during a protest as they wait for the grand jury announcement on November 24, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson has been struggling to return to normal after Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was killed by Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson police officer, on August 9. His death has sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson. A grand jury is expected announce today if Wilson should be charged in the shooting. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


ST. LOUIS (AP) - A federal judge has imposed some limits on what actions police can take during protests in Missouri, ruling that officers must give demonstrators a reasonable chance to disperse before deploying tear gas and other chemical agents.

U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson late Thursday granted a temporary restraining order on behalf of demonstrators protesting the Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Brown's death led to weeks of protests and some looting in the St. Louis area.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by six protesters against leaders of the "unified command" established by Gov. Jay Nixon in August to handle security at those protests - Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar and St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson.

Police testified Thursday that they did what was necessary during the often unruly demonstrations. But protesters told the judge that they were subjected to tear gas with virtually no warning.

Jackson's order requires police to warn crowds of the impending use of tear gas, pepper spray and other chemical agents and provide "reasonable" time for people to disperse before tear gas is deployed. The ruling does not define what is reasonable, leaving that to police discretion.

Jackson wrote that evidence "establishes that law enforcement officials failed to give the plaintiffs and other protesters any warning that chemical agents would be deployed and, hence, no opportunity to avoid injury."

Her order also prohibits use of chemical agents on "non-criminal" protesters "for the purpose of frightening them or punishing them for exercising their constitutional rights."

Jackson set a preliminary injunction hearing for Jan. 6 to consider whether to make the temporary order longer-term.

Thomas Harvey, an attorney for the protesters, called it a "great ruling."

"We were simply asking the judge to require police to make it possible for law-abiding citizens to comply with their order to disperse and give them time to exit the area prior to tear gas being deployed," Harvey said Friday. "They need to separate criminals from protesters and she made the distinction very clear."

Messages seeking comment from attorneys and representatives for the Highway Patrol, St. Louis and St. Louis County police were not immediately returned.

Protests against police brutality have spread across the country since Nov. 24 when St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced the grand jury decision not to charge Wilson with a crime. Fuelling the movement, another grand jury in New York decided to not indict a white officer in the death of Eric Garner, who died gasping "I can't breathe" while police were trying to arrest him for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes.

More From AOL:
Traffic resumes after Hong Kong clears protesters
Jahi McMath still hooked to machines 1 year later
China's Nobel peace laureate sends message from jail
Read Full Story