Deputy Ignores Complaints that Handcuffs are too Tight
(AL) – The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office received a call on February 16, 2020, regarding men with guns fighting. Deputies arrived at the trailer park. From that point, there are two drastically different versions of what happened. The police report describes a combative male with slurred speech.
According to AL.com,
“Plaintiff was not fighting anyone, had no guns, nor did he hear or see guns that evening,” the complaint states.
He said he answered the door to the deputies and asked them 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,” the complaint says.
Giovanni Loyola was taken into custody and placed in handcuffs. He claims his fingers immediately began going numb and that he complained several times that the handcuffs were too tight. Deputy Christopher Godber ignored Mr. Loyola and never checked or loosened the cuffs.
Handcuffs Left on for Hours
The arrest and booking process takes a good amount of time. Mr. Loyola was left with the handcuffs being too tight while he was on the ground at the scene. His mother, the only other person there, states that was approximately 45 minutes. That is probably accurate since the officers searched her trailer and property (without a warrant). The search would have taken some time. Mr. Loyola was then transported to the jail and left in a holding cell with the handcuffs on.
Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest Charge
Giovanni Loyola was charged with disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, and the officers’ favorite, resisting arrest. He did have some warrants out for traffic violations and ended up spending 12 days in jail. According to the complaint, the jail did not give him medical attention when he complained of pain in his hand.
First Fingers, then Hand Amputated
Loyola went to the hospital immediately after his release and was referred for surgery. He had two of his fingertips removed but continued to wake up with pain and noticed his fingers were turning colors. Over the next several months, he underwent four more operations, including his hand amputation.
The doctors were unable to tell where the specific damage was at first. They eventually replaced a vein in Loyola’s arm with one they took from his leg. But by that point, Loyola had to have his left hand fully amputated.
Deputy Violated His Law Enforcement Training
The circumstances surrounding the arrest don’t matter. Police misconduct during the arrest or a belligerent arrestee are not the problem. At least, not in regards to the amputation of Mr. Loyola’s hand.
Law enforcement receives training on how to handcuff a person. The cuffs should be double locked. That’s to prevent the cuffs from tightening when a person leans back against them in the police car. If the arrested person claims they are too tight, the law enforcement officer is supposed to check. If the officer can slide a pinky finger in between the handcuff and wrist, they are fine.
Regardless, once an officer takes someone into custody, it is the officer’s responsibility to ensure their safety. The circumstances of the arrest do not lessen the officer’s responsibility to ensure the arrestee’s safety.
Civil Lawsuit Filed
Giovanni Loyola’s attorney has filed a civil lawsuit against the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The lawsuit claims civil rights violations of excessive force and unlawful arrest.
Mr. Loyola went through the horror of watching his fingers turn blue, then gray, then black. He endured multiple surgeries while pieces of his hand were being chopped off. Giovanni Loyola “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 is suffering from severe depression and spends most of his time in his bedroom.
This lawsuit feels like a slam dunk, but what about Deputy Christopher Godber? What actions will be taken against him for his negligence? Unfortunately, I suspect there will be no repercussions.