Alabama Deputy Sued After Cuffing An Arrestee So Tightly His Hand Had To Be Amputated
from the cruelty-is-often-the-point dept
There’s a saying lots of cops and cop defenders use. It rhymes, so it’s easy to remember and even easier to deploy carelessly anytime someone expresses doubts about excessive force or excessive sentencing.
“Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”
But what happens if you don’t do the crime, still do the time, and then have something truly awful happen to you as a result of your forced “interaction” with local law enforcement? Well, things like this happen… things that should never happen.
Before Giovanni Loyola was arrested in February 2020, he enjoyed using his hands and worked mainly in construction. Now the 26-year-old is unable to fasten his own belt or tie his shoes, his attorney said.
Loyola had segments of fingers removed in several operations last year, and doctors ultimately had to amputate his entire left hand. According to a federal civil rights complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama last month, the amputation was the result of injuries sustained from being left for hours in overly tight handcuffs after a disorderly-conduct arrest.
Yeah, that’s the “time” Loyola will be doing for the rest of his life for the “crime” of telling sheriff’s deputies there was no altercation happening at his home. The lawsuit [PDF] (which the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post apparently can’t afford to make available at its website) says Jefferson County (Alabama) deputy Christopher Godber showed up at Loyola’s mothers house in response to reports two males were fighting and carrying weapons.
Loyola was watching TV at the time and no fighting was happening at the residence. Apparently, Deputy Godber didn’t care for the “nothing to see here, please move along” answers he was receiving from Loyola. So, he needlessly escalated the situation.
When Plaintiff answered the door he asked the deputies standing there what was wrong. Deputy Godber, without answering and without asking permission to enter the home, reached inside the doorway, grabbed Plaintiff by the wrist and jerked him outside the home and down the steps.
Deputy Godber then slammed Plaintiff against a car, threw him to the ground and punched him in the face with his fist.
Deputy Godber then cuffed Plaintiff’s hands together behind his back extremely tightly and placed his knee on Plaintiff’s upper back with Deputy Godber’s weight on the knee.
According to the lawsuit, Deputy Godber had a good 50 pounds on the person he was restraining, not to mention the advantage of having both of his hands uncuffed. Godber still holds the advantage, months after this arrest, with Loyola losing one hand to Godber’s refusal to loosen the cuffs.
Loyola then spent the weekend in jail. He was arrested for “contempt of cop:” disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Outstanding warrants for traffic violations kept him in jail for ten more days. He was given no medical treatment while incarcerated. By the time he was released, it was too late to save his hand.
After Plaintiff got out of jail on February 28, 2020, his left wrist was still in tremendous pain. He went to Christ Health Center where the physician provided him with a medical excuse stating that “[h]e was found to have a severe problem with blood flow to his left hand and is in need of emergent surgery.”
Plaintiff was admitted to St. Vincent’s East and remained there until March 2, 2020. 28. On February 28, upon admission to the Emergency Department, the notes state that Plaintiff had “gray fingertips and concern for necrosis of the left hand. He has had increasing pain in his fingertips after he was handcuffed 4 days ago and sent in from Christ Health Center for rule out of dissection.”
First, surgeons removed two fingertips. But the necrosis had advanced too far to save the hand.
Plaintiff went home but returned to the hospital on March 17, 2020, complaining of extreme pain in his fingers. Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital on March 17, 2020 and remained there until March 25, 2020. Those medical records state that “He reports he was arrested about 3 weeks ago and after wearing handcuffs his fingers turned blue and became painful.”
Over the next ten months Plaintiff went to Saint Vincent’s Hospital and then to UAB for continued treatment of his hand, but due to the injuries inflicted on him by the deputies’ improper use of handcuffs, Plaintiff’s left hand has had to be amputated.
Apart from the obvious senseless permanent injury inflicted on Loyola, the lawsuit also alleges other Fourth Amendment violations, like the illegal seizure of Loyola by the deputy who dragged him out of his house before throwing him to the ground and cuffing him, And there was a supposed “safety sweep” of the house no one was fighting in — one that happened with all residents outside of the home and (obviously) without a warrant.
“Don’t do the crime.” But no crime had occurred until Deputy Godber escalated the situation by reaching across the house’s threshold to grab Loyola. Anything that happened past that point was pretty much manufactured by the deputy’s deployment of force. The incident report claims Loyola was “drunk and belligerent” but those aren’t criminal acts, especially since Loyola was still in his own home — right up until Deputy Godber dragged him out of it. Calling the violent arrest an “altercation” is just standard exonerative prose — something seen in pretty much every report covering deployments of excessive force.
This call could have been handled without an arrest and without a man losing his hand and his livelihood. But it wasn’t because the law enforcement officer on the scene decided it had to go the way it did. At the end of this — even if Loyola wins in court — Deputy Godber will still have his job and both of his hands. At worst, he may only be out of a job temporarily. But the punishment inflicted on Loyola by Godber will last a lifetime.