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."

Thanks, Baretta. I'm not sure how Robert Blake feels about this catchphrase after his trip through the criminal justice system, but it nonetheless persists.

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.

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Filed Under: alabama, giovanni loyola, police brutality


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Jun 2021 @ 4:00pm

    Why go to North Korea when you can get the same treatment here?

    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.

    Imagine any other job where 'assaulted and maimed a person so badly that they lost a hand' wasn't seen as immediate grounds to fire them and bring charges and odds are good to get there you're imagining something that you'd usually only find in a brutal dictatorship.

    It would not surprise me in the least if the courts gave the goon in blue a pass on this, whether dismissing it because it was just a 'silly accident' or brushing it aside because there hasn't yet been a case specifically finding that cuffing a person so tightly that the limb loses blood circulation means the thug had no way to know that that was a bad thing, but the fact that this is 'just another day ending in Y' when it comes to american policing rather than an abhorent yet rare exception really says a lot about just how rotten, violent and corrupt US police are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:39am

      Re: Why go to North Korea when you can get the same treatment he

      Ever delt with a accident on the job?
      Even if you become disabled, you get to deal with the Corp trying to get rid of you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2021 @ 5:31pm

    Ask them religious folk in the Bahble Belt what they think of "an eye for an eye" in this scenario.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 7 Jun 2021 @ 5:36pm

      Re:

      Well, someone named "Giovanni Loyola" sounds white enough to be considered human in the Bible Belt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2021 @ 6:19pm

        Re: Re:

        The complaint says he was hispanic. Just... so ya know.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          David, 8 Jun 2021 @ 1:07am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Sigh. It's almost as if police were racist. If they didn't attack a few homeless white people in between to prove that they are merely looking for victims they expect to get away with mistreating, one could lose faith in humanity.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Samuel Abram (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 9:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            It's almost as if police were racist.

            There's no "almost as if" here.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Jun 2021 @ 5:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "It's almost as if police were racist."

            I realize that you're trying out sarcasm here but...we're talking about the Alabama heartland here. what would be surprising would be to find an officer who wasn't a card-carrying member of any of the 20 or so major hate groups seated in that state.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), 7 Jun 2021 @ 6:13pm

    Hammurabi's Code

    I realize Hammurabi's Code is barbaric and outdated, but events like this make me think there should be instances it should be applied.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 4:02pm

      Re: Hammurabi's Code

      I can just imagine how much fun it would be getting the south (in particular) to follow something called "Hammurabi's Code".....they see a muslim conspiracy and start barricading their front doors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 10 Jun 2021 @ 5:43am

        Re: Re: Hammurabi's Code

        ...and then you'd tell them Hammurabi was the king of Babylon and they'd all go "That's in the bible. Sing Hosanna!".

        I'm pretty sure most of the more zealous american christians would gladly nail the good lord on to a cross again if he came along with his libtard peacenik ways.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2021 @ 6:25pm

    Have to say, Loyola wasn't much on giving accurate information on when he was arrested. He is described in the lawsuit as Hispanic, so it is possible that it could be a language issue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    CharlesGrossman (profile), 7 Jun 2021 @ 6:49pm

    Why is this in Techdirt?

    A heartbreaking store -- and I hope justice is done -- but how is this related to Techdirt's areas of interest?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      brandx (profile), 7 Jun 2021 @ 7:10pm

      Re: Why is this in Techdirt?

      This is exactly in Techdirt's wheelhouse. This is about the government abusing its power over the citizens it governs. It's tragic that there are so many assholes like Deputy Godber who are doing the governing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Jun 2021 @ 8:34pm

      Re: Why is this in Techdirt?

      Techdirt has multiple writers, they each have general topics that they focus on and abuse of power by police like this happen to be this writer's.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2021 @ 9:27pm

      Re: Why is this in Techdirt?

      You must be new.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Jun 2021 @ 8:30pm

        Re: Re: Why is this in Techdirt?

        His account seems to have been kicking around for a while, actually. Where's blue and his zombie rants when you actually need them?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Jun 2021 @ 9:34pm

      Re: Why is this in Techdirt?

      How do you not know it is in techdirt's area of interest? Seems like the Prelude to JAQing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 12:44am

    The police is the real public enemy. Defund the police !

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 1:05am

    "A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals."

    Not looking too good, team USA...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    wshuff (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 5:31am

    Yeah, but is there a specific lawsuit that says you can’t handcuff a Hispanic guy’s hands so tightly that he loses a hand? I mean, because if not, how was Deputy Goebbels suppose to know he was violating Loyola’s rights?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Una, 8 Jun 2021 @ 10:33am

      you really think being white would have saved him?

      no seriously... you really think cops dont target white guys who look like they wont be able to fight back, physically, let alone legally?

      hell i look like i could have been a threat,(big guy), yet, cops knew i was poor/poor-ish and couldnt fight back...and spent years making me stand for a minimum of 45min as they "ran" my id, because "you look like somebody we are looking for", it was just harassment but, due to the actions of the cop before them, i had to just grin and bare it, see i was falsely accused of rape, later to learn the cop even knew she was lied to, and threatened the girl who lied, but also admitted to my face, it helped her carrier alot, and, from her view, it taught men and boys like me a lesson, dont fuck with women if you value your life... she genuinely said that and worse... and since statute of limitations was up a year earlier... and my life was so wrecked and ruined, i couldnt find meaningful work, not to talk about relationships... decades later, nothing i have been able to try, has been able to rebuild even a semblance of the life i was on the path to having... nothing grand... just wanted a job or business i enjoyed, wife, kids... a family of my own...

      i had to finely accept what everybody in the know told me, win or lose, my life ended the moment she lied.. nothing can repair the damage done.. outside great wealth... outside that... there is no treatment let alone cure for the damage done by those kind of lies... you are from that point forward, whatever the person said you are, regardless of the truth and your ability to disprove the lies.. society and the system do not care...at all...you arent a person anymore, you are a sub-human thing, an example of why its never ok to upset/offend a woman so badly she would say such things... because in modern society/culture... even turning somebody who just wants sex from you down, because you are with somebody..or just not interested, is a form of rape in and of itself.. emotional rape, psychological rape, so, when she claims you raped her... you raped her... thats how she sees it, thats how society sees it.. you could be over 3k miles away on the other side of the country, and, it dosnt matter they will just open it from "a week and a half, ta two weeks ago" to "sometime in the 6mo before that" as you keep proving the claims are not possible.. nobody cares...

      just like in the end, nobody gives a shit when cops harm or kill people, as long as the media dosnt tell them its happening, they dont give a shit... and never have...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, 8 Jun 2021 @ 6:10am

    The deputy should obviously be in jail at a minimum

    This is why, you don't open the door. You talk through the door, and if the deputy doesn't leave escalate to a Supervisor.Evgery. single. fucking. time. No exceptions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 7:03am

      Re: The deputy should obviously be in jail at a minimum

      and if the deputy doesn't leave

      Expect them to put enough rounds through the door to turn it into a colander while waiting for MRAP to break it open.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 8:05am

    It turns out...

    ...that this tragedy was caused by Deputy Godber's dyslexia. Unfortunately, he believes that the police's role is "to protect and sever."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2021 @ 9:54am

    $10 million per finger and $50 million for the hand would barely cover it.

    PLUS medical expenses, AND costs for whatever the best prosthetic hand in the world costs (with yearly updates).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 8 Jun 2021 @ 11:09am

      Re:

      So long as the thug who's actions resulted in the lost hand isn't paying even that would be shrugged off, you could make the penalty even one percent of that and so long as it was applied personally then it would be much more effective as a punishment and deterrent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 10 Jun 2021 @ 6:10pm

    Losing a hand in an unjustified arrest. That's pretty harsh, doesn't happen often and severely penalizes the victim... for not being immediately and completely subservient to a cop.

    If only there was a law against... I don't know... cruel and unusual punishments. We could even write that in the Constitution. As an amendment. Right between the 7th and the 9th.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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