During a foot chase, a police officer shocked a panhandler with a stun gun.
Jerry Blasingame fell and broke his neck, and a federal jury in Atlanta awarded him $100 million in a civil lawsuit.
Attorney Ven Johnson told the jury that Jerry Blasingame now needs round-the-clock care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This costs $1 million a year, and he has already spent $14 million on medical bills.
On July 10, 2018, the jury ruled that Officer Jon Grubbs used too much force against Blasingame, who was 65 years old, and asked drivers for money. He is 69 years old now and is paralyzed from the neck down.
WXIA-TV and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the jury decided the $100 million will come from Grubbs and the police department. Officer Grubbs is liable for $40 million, and the Atlanta Police Department for $60 million.
The jury’s verdict could be amended if the judge rules in favor of the motion for a directed verdict brought by the city.
Online court records show that Judge Steve Jones has not yet ruled on that request.
Jones ruled before the jury started deliberating that they could find that Grubbs used too much force and that they could look at the city’s case.
“The record would allow the jury to find that Mr. Blasingame had not been committing a serious crime before he was tased/ that Officer Grubbs did not fear for his safety/ and that the exigent circumstances were not otherwise so severe as to permit Officer Grubbs’s use of force,” Jones wrote.
Keith Edwards, Blasingame’s conservator, sued the city of Atlanta and the officer, Jon Grubbs, for Blasingame’s past and future medical bills.
Johnson and civil rights lawyer Craig Jones told the newspaper that using a stun gun on an elderly man running away violated department policy.
In the lawsuit that Edwards filed, Blasingame was said to be out on the street asking for money when Grubbs and another officer saw him talking to a driver.
Grubbs allegedly stepped out of the patrol vehicle and ordered Blasingame to halt, according to the lawsuit. Grubbs sprinted in the direction of Blasingame as he crossed the street and climbed a guard rail.
“Grubbs gets out of the car and starts chasing my client — a 65-year-old man — and for what? For potentially asking people for money?” Johnson said about his client.
Johnson expressed that the city didn’t look into Grubbs’ behavior well enough and let him go back to full duty six months after the incident before the investigation was finished.
“This is how an officer gets away with excessive force,” he stated in his closing argument. “You bury it.”
One of the lawyers for Atlanta and Grubbs, Staci J. Miller, said that Blasingame’s injuries were terrible but that city training and department policy were not to blame.
The newspaper reported that the lawyers for the City of Atlanta, who also represented Grubbs, were not available to comment about the verdict. A spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens refused to comment.
Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council records show that Grubbs became a cadet with the Atlanta Police Department in December 2013.
After a year, he became a full officer and has been on the force ever since.
There are no sanctions against him in his POST records, and the state police certifying agency lists him as an officer in good standing.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys
Spinal Cord Injuries often leave victims with permant disabilites. These injuries will bring forth extra medical needs and costs. Although they can range in severity, they are often catastrophic. If you are injured with spinal cord injury due to someone else’s actions, call the spinal cord injury lawyers at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for a free consultaiton.