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Christopher Shaw: Handcuffed Black man left paralysed after being body-slammed by police officer, lawsuit says

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A Black man in Texas has sued a police officer for allegedly body slamming him while he was handcuffed and leaving him without medical assistance for 20 hours, resulting in his paralysis from the waist down.

The lawsuit filed last week by Christopher Shaw, 42, said Beaumont police officer James Gillen assaulted him on 12 June 2021 when he was lodged in Jack Brooks Federal Building for public intoxication.

It added that the injury has left Mr Shaw paralysed for life.

The police officer allegedly grabbed Mr Shaw while he was handcuffed and flipped him over, after which he fell on the concrete floor of the lockup, injuring his spine, according to his attorneys.

The lawsuit said Mr Shaw landed on his head and suffered fractures in several places on his spine but he did not receive any medical attention for around 20 hours and was left in that state inside the lockup.

“This officer, while Mr Shaw posed no threat to him, flipped him in the air and caused him to land on his head,” attorney Chance Lynch, representing Mr Shaw, told local media reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

“When he flipped him and he landed on his head, blood poured out of his head due to a laceration,” he added.

“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 faeces and urine and they still wouldn’t help him,” Mr Lynch said.

Eventually, he was taken by Beaumont police to Baptist hospital for a safety check before being brought to the Jefferson County jail, according to Mr Lynch, but the injuries had already paralysed him.

The lawsuit stated Mr Shaw remained paralysed from the chest down and another of his attorneys, Harry Daniels, said Mr Shaw’s life has been greatly impacted in the worst way.

“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,” Mr Daniels told media outlets.

Mr Daniels also said Mr Shaw can’t afford the physical therapy and treatment he needs that could give him a chance of a full recovery.

He is suing Beaumont police officer James Gillen and the city of Beaumont, alleging Mr Gillen used excessive force and violated Mr Shaw’s civil rights.

Mr Shaw is also suing CorrHealth, the jail’s medical contractor, alleging its employees ignored his pleas for medical assistance. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and attorney fees.

Mr Shaw’s attorneys said the incident was recorded on video and demanded the footage be released.

“We’re here today to ask for accountability and also transparency,” attorney Chimeaka White said. “We’re asking for that video to be released. The world needs to know what happened to Mr Shaw.”

Neither the Beaumont police department nor the Jefferson County sheriff’s office, which runs the jail, has released any statement or responded to requests from the media.

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