Lawsuit alleges Texas police officer paralyzed man in jail

A man filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing a Texas police officer of using excessive force while restraining him in jail and inflicting injuries that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

The lawsuit on behalf of Christopher Shaw seeks unspecified damages from Beaumont police Officer James Thomas Gillen, the city, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the jail’s medical contractor.

The lawsuit centers on events from Shaw’s June 12, 2020, arrest on a misdemeanor public intoxication charge.

According to the lawsuit, after a trip to a local hospital to exclude other reasons for Shaw’s slurred speech, Gillen took him to the Jefferson County Correctional Facility. At one point when Shaw refused to comply with commands, jailers restrained him against a wall. Gillen grabbed Shaw, flipped him into the air and body-slammed him head-first on the concrete floor, leaving him paralyzed.

A hospital examination showed that Shaw suffered several spinal fractures that have left him paralyzed from the chest down, the lawsuit alleges.

"Mr. Shaw’s life has been greatly impacted in the worst way," said his attorney, Harry Daniels of Atlanta. "He was once an able-bodied young man before he was assaulted. He can no longer stand or walk. He is a prisoner of his own body. He spends a majority of his day in bed due to the fact he doesn’t have the resources to hire a full-time caregiver.

"Additionally, he cannot afford the much-needed physical therapy and treatment that he needs that could give him a chance to make a full recovery," Daniels said.

A spokeswoman for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, which provides legal representation to law enforcement officers, declined to comment on the lawsuit. The city of Beaumont didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking comment.

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