Chenoweth Law Group

Oregon man files $5M lawsuit over alleged police torture

An Oregon man has sued two counties, a city and 15 people in federal court, claiming the defendants violated his civil rights when he was abused by police. Claiming that authorities subjected him to "abuse, assault and tortuous treatment" while failing to accommodate his "significant mental illness" and is seeking $5 million in damages. The plaintiff says he will require surgery before being able to return to work as an auto mechanic.

According to the civil lawsuit, police officers arrested the plaintiff without probable cause and attacked him with Tasers and pepper spray before taking him to a hospital, where they restrained and tortured him. Video footage of the alleged torture appeared online, depicting a police officer bending the man's fingers back to painful angles while he remains restrained in a gurney. Several other officers are seen watching the assault and appear to know they are being filmed. The plaintiff's attorney said that this shows "that they've done this before and they feel comfortable doing it" and makes them complicit in his client's torture.

Following the incident, the plaintiff was assaulted again while incarcerated at a county jail when a deputy slammed his hand in a metal door and would not open it, court documents show. The deputy eventually lost his job and was charged with assault, later agreeing to a plea deal. When the plaintiff was finally taken to a hospital three weeks after the attack, an X-ray showed two fingers on his left hand to be completely shattered.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that police repeatedly assaulted the plaintiff during a 90-day stay at a jail in early 2011. It alleges that the officers then filed fraudulent reports to make it appear that the injuries the plaintiff sustained in the attacks were self-inflicted. The lawsuit states that the plaintiff currently takes medication for depression and anxiety, as well as other "cognitive and neurological dysfunctions."

It is necessary for law enforcement officers to restrain individuals if they prove to be dangerous to themselves or others. However, it is recommended that they use reasonable force -- not excessive. Yes, there are times that a more aggressive stance is required by officers, particularly if people's lives are at stake, but the right to subdue a person does not include unabated physical violence against a suspect. If it can be proven that the man's accusations are legitimate, the officers involved will have to attempt to justify their actions in a court of law.

Source: Huffington Post, "Curtis Hooper, Oregon Man, Claims Torture By Police, Sues For $5 Million," Andres Jauregui, Nov. 8, 2012

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