The lawsuit filed by 42-year-old Christopher Shaw alleges he was left paralyzed from the chest down following a physical altercation with Beaumont police officer James Gillen. Shaw was being held at the Jack Brooks Federal Building for a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication on June 12, 2021, when the alleged assault happened.
According to the documents, Gillen gabbed the handcuffed Shaw, flipped him over, and slammed him on the concrete floor. The Black man landed on his head, fracturing his spine in several places, the lawsuit claims. On top of that, Shaw got no medical assistance for 20 hours, the filing adds.
“When he flipped him and he landed on his head, blood poured out of his head due to a laceration,” Chance Lynch, the attorney representing Shaw, said during a press conference. “He laid there on that floor in that cell begging for help. No one helped him. Using the restroom on himself, he laid on his own feces and urine and they still wouldn’t help him.”
The injured Black man was eventually taken to a hospital by police before being booked into the Jefferson County jail, reporters learned. By that time, Lynch says, the damage has already been done.
Shaw, who appeared at the press conference in a wheelchair, can’t afford the physical therapy and treatment needed to make a full recovery, according to his legal team.
“He was once an able-bodied young man before he was assaulted,” Harry Daniels, another attorney representing Shaw, says. “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.”
The lawsuit accuses Gillen of using excessive force against Shaw and violating his civil rights. CorrHealth, the jail’s medical contractor, was also named as a defendant over employees allegedly ignoring his cries for medical help.
“We feel very badly about the gentleman who got injured, but our officer was just doing his job and I want them to protect themselves,” Singletary said at the time. “I stand by the actions of this officer. I hate that somebody got hurt, but he did his job.”
The Beaumont Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, haven’t responded to recent media requests as of Thursday (July 21).
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
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