Man Paralyzed In Police Van Files Federal Lawsuit
The City of New Haven is working out a settlement deal with an inmate who was severely injured after an accident he sustained in a police van. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was being transferred to police headquarters when the driver of the van, a police officer, stopped abruptly to avoid an accident. The officer later said that he braked to avoid an accident.
The inmate at this point reported being unable to move his legs. However, that did not stop police from dragging him into the building by force. The two officers have since been charged with second-degree reckless cruelty. Both charges are misdemeanors, but the officers will never work in law enforcement again. Their criminal record will also likely prevent them from sustaining positions as security, work for which they’d be qualified. However, hiring a former police officer with a criminal record presents a liability issue if anything should happen in the future, which seems likely in a case like this. So, most security companies will avoid hiring police officers with use-of-force violations on their records, especially when there is a paper trail of charges.
Analyzing the allegations
There are actually two classes of allegations in a lawsuit like this. The first involves personal injury. The second involves civil rights. The plaintiff will allege that his civil rights were violated resulting in personal injury. However, prior to that, the plaintiff alleges negligence on the part of the police officer who drove him to the station.
The officer failed to safely operate his vehicle and appeared to be in a hurry on his way down to the station. The plaintiff alleges that speeding, led to the officer having to quickly stop the vehicle, which resulted in the passenger sustaining an injury that caused paralysis.
All civil defenses of police officers (and most criminal defenses as well) will work the same way. That means you end up with two defenses used almost every time. The first defense is to blame the victim, a defense which is successful in the majority of cases. The second defense is to blame the victim’s injury or death on a pre-existing condition.
In this case, the police can claim the paralysis injury was the result of a pre-existing condition, but they can’t claim they didn’t exacerbate that condition beyond repair after dragging him by force into the police station when he told them he couldn’t move his legs.
Essentially, the conduct of the police officers will preclude a pre-existing condition defense because even if there was a pre-existing condition, the officers made it worse, failed to render necessary care, and likely were the primary cause of the injury in the first place.
The city will settle and declaim the officers who caused the injury.
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