Christopher Shaw is accusing a Texas police officer of paralyzing him during an arrest in June 2021, per 12NewsNow. According to his lawsuit, the officer body slammed him onto the concrete ground leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Both his attorneys and local civil rights activists are rallying behind him in support of bringing the officer to justice.
How many cases does this make now of officers paralyzing Black people? Demonte Ward-Blake was dealt the same card in 2019, Jacob Blake in 2020 and Richard Cox this past June. Thankfully they’re alive, but it’s at the cost of them losing their basic abilities.
Reports say Shaw was arrested for public intoxication. Upon being taken into custody, officers said Shaw became aggressive and “intentionally” tried to fight off the officers. As they restrained him, Shaw’s suit claims the officers flipped him into the air, causing him to land on his head.
More on the incident from The Guardian:
He landed on his head and fractured his spine in multiple places, the lawsuit alleges. Shaw asked for help from jail staff and employees of the jail’s medical contractor CorrHealth but they refused to help him, according to the lawsuit. When Shaw asked one nurse for assistance, she allegedly told him, “I won’t help you until you help yourself.”
The lawsuit added that Shaw was left alone in his jail cell for approximately 20 hours before someone attended to him medically. While he was left alone in his cell, he “defecated and urinated on himself multiple times due to his inability to control his bowels and kidney function”, the lawsuit said. Only later was an ambulance called for him and he was taken to the hospital again where he underwent various emergency surgeries.
Upon coming back to jail from the hospital, “Mr Shaw clearly showed signs of paralysis. Specifically, Mr Shaw was not ambulant. Mr Shaw was placed in a wheelchair and, with the assistance of another officer, Mr Shaw was wheeled back into JCCF. Mr Shaw was unable to control his lower extremities,” the lawsuit said.
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Shaw’s suit names officer James Thomas Gillen, the city of Beaumont, Texas, 10 CorrHealth employees and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Deputies and officers as the defendants. Attorneys for Shaw, the NAACP Beaumont chapter and Texas Rainbow PUSH Coalition have viewed video footage of the incident and called for it to be released to the public.
“We’re dealing with lack of accountability because accountability breeds responsibility. And therefore we need our law enforcement to be responsible enough to hold their officers accountable when wrongdoing has been done,” said Candice Matthews, statewide steering committee chair for PUSH, via press conference.
Officer Gillen escaped criminal charges in connection to the incident after a grand jury decision. That same jury indicted Shaw on second-degree assault charges.