Handcuff Injury Claim Against Police Continues After Appeal
A man who claims he was injured after he asked Alexandria, Indiana police not to handcuff him during a compliant arrest because he’d had recent rotator cuff surgery that limited his shoulder mobility may proceed with a federal lawsuit against the officers, a judge ruled. The case stems from an arrest in Alexandria back in 2016. Thomas Salyers was arrested on on a warrant for failure to appear at a child support hearing after Alexandria police officers Kyle Williams and Cody Antrim saw him walking with his father on a sidewalk near his home.
Salyers knew one of the officers, and as they talked, he told them about his recent surgery and said he didn’t think he could be cuffed behind his back because of the surgery. Officers said he had to be cuffed, and when he was, Salyers complained he was hurt. Salyers claims that he was injured as a result of the cuffing and subsequent exams found he required more than $100,000 in corrective shoulder surgery.
Saylers subsequently filed suit against both Alexandria and the arresting officers. Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the U.S. Court for the Southern District dismissed the claim against the Alexandria County police department but ruled that the officers could be held held liable for their actions against Mr. Salyers.
In her opinion, Judge Barker said: “The record before us reveals that Salyers specifically reminded Officer Williams that he had recently undergone shoulder surgery and asked that he not be handcuffed behind his back. It further reveals that Officer Williams confirmed that (Salyers) had a preexisting shoulder injury and instructed Officer Antrim to be gentle in effectuating the arrest. Given the specificity of Salyers’s complaint and the officers’ acknowledgement its authenticity, it is clear that they were put on notice of a preexisting injury regardless of whether Salyers continued to complain of pain during or after the handcuffing. Accordingly, they were obligated to consider his injury, along with other relevant circumstances, in determining whether cuffing him behind his back was appropriate.”
Judge Barker ruled Salyers may continue his 4th Amendment case against the officers for using excessive force, noting that this is appropriate because of the minor charges for which Salyers was charged and lack of a threat of danger or violence while the officers were completing the arrest.