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Texas Man Files Lawsuit Alleging Police Encounter Left Him Paralyzed

Christopher Shaw, who was held in jail in Beaumont, Tx., is suing the city, alleging that an encounter with an officer left him paralyzed from the chest down, the Washington Post reports. Shaw, a Black man, is accusing Beaumont officer James Gillen of excessive use of force and violating his civil rights. According to Shaw’s attorney, the officer slammed him on the concrete floor while he was handcuffed. He landed on his head and his spine was fractured in several places. He is also suing the jail’s medical contractor, CorrHealth, alleging that employees ignored his pleas for medical attention for 20 hours after the attack. Shaw now must use a wheelchair due to his injuries. Shaw’s attorney said that the case is reminiscent of Randy Cox, another Black man who sustained a severe spinal cord injury after he was placed in the back of a police van without a seatbelt. Cox was also left paralyzed from the chest down.

Shaw’s lawyers said they have a video of the incident and are hoping to release it publicly. On June 12, 2021, Shaw was arrested on a misdemeanor charge for public intoxication. He was evaluated at the hospital and then transferred to the Jefferson County Correctional Facility in Beaumont. Deputies said they had to restrain Shaw for noncompliance. According to the lawsuit, once Shaw was properly restrained, Gillen threw an object across the room and forced him away from the other officers. Gillen then allegedly threw Shaw to the ground, causing his head to hit the concrete. Shaw became unconscious and had blood pouring from his head.