After a handcuffed ride in the back of a police van, a man was left paralyzed and needed his legs amputated, lawsuit alleges

After a handcuffed ride in the back of a police van, a man was left paralyzed and needed his legs amputated, lawsuit alleges - Crime and Courts - News

Man Filed Lawsuit Against St. Petersburg Police for Paralysis and Amputation after Rough Ride in Police Van

A man named Heriberto Alejandro Sanchez-Mayen filed a federal lawsuit against the city of St. Petersburg and two police officers, Sarah Gaddis and Michael Thacker, for his paralysis and subsequent amputation of both legs after being placed in a police van without proper restraints. The incident took place on June 8, 2023.

Background of the Incident:
The complaint states that Sanchez-Mayen was detained by Gaddis for trespassing in a grassy lot, where he claimed he had fallen asleep. Although initially intending to issue him a ticket, she later decided to arrest him due to prior complaints against him. When Thacker arrived in a police van and restrained Sanchez-Mayen with handcuffs and a metal belly chain, limiting his arm usage, Thacker remarked that any crime should be considered a felony after multiple incidents.

Allegations and Injuries:
Sanchez-Mayen, who reportedly has some prior arrests for minor offenses like loitering and trespassing and is homeless, was placed in the back of the van without any seatbelts. Thacker allegedly drove recklessly during the transportation, causing Sanchez-Mayen to be violently thrown forward when he suddenly stopped at a red light. His head struck the metal partition, and later video footage from inside the van showed him lying motionless on the floor.

Injuries sustained by Sanchez-Mayen included spinal cord injuries that left him a quadriplegic, requiring amputation of both legs above the knee. The lawsuit alleges that Sanchez-Mayen should not have been arrested in the first place as the criminal trespassing charge was later dismissed, and both officers were accused of excessive force, intentional battery, false arrest, and malicious prosecution, while the city faces charges of negligent supervision and training.

Response from Authorities:
The St. Petersburg Police Department denied the allegations, trusting in the judicial process. The department deferred all media inquiries to the city attorney’s office.

Implications and Previous Cases:
The incident resembles a “rough ride,” where a detained person is placed in the back of a van without a seatbelt and driven erratically. This practice gained widespread attention following the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, who suffered severe injuries during transportation.

This lawsuit highlights the potential consequences of police misconduct and negligence towards detainees, as well as the importance of proper restraints during transportation. The legal proceedings will shed light on the extent of responsibility for the incident and potential changes in police protocols to prevent similar occurrences in the future.