Jailers Show a Paraplegic Who's Boss

Richard Post was taken to jail in his wheelchair for mouthing off in a bar. Joe Arpaio's detention officers saw him as such a threat, they strapped him into a medieval restraint chair--and broke his neck.

So Post told him. And then Khayata suddenly became agitated.
Khayata told Post that he had changed his mind and could not operate on him. It's obvious that litigation will be involved, Khayata told Post and Post's mother, and he wanted no part of it. He said he would refer the matter to another surgeon.

"All I want is for you to fix me," Post says he pleaded with Khayata, telling him that he wasn't looking for a witness to testify on his behalf. But Post and his mother say that Khayata apologized and said he wanted nothing to do with a lawsuit. The doctor did not return calls from New Times.

Khayata referred Post's case to Barrow Neurological Institute, and Post awaits word on who will perform the surgery he needs. In the meantime, his condition worsens, and he battles depression. His surgery will permanently restrict his ability to pivot his head. He also may never regain the ability to write. Or shoot pool.

"I already don't have the use of my legs. Now I'm losing the use of my arms," he says.

Post had no trouble convincing attorneys at the Arizona Center for Disability Law that he had a case against the sheriff and his jailers. But after forcing Arpaio to turn over numerous records and the videotape, Post's attorneys at the law center realized that they couldn't handle the case. The office attempts to sue for equal treatment of the disabled, not for damages resulting from mistreatment.

So Post is without an attorney, and has had trouble finding someone who wants to take on the sheriff. He initially filed a notice of claim for only $15,000 to cover the costs of losing a semester of school and some of his medical bills.

But now, as the full extent of his injuries and the effect they will have on the quality of his life have become clear, he's being encouraged to raise that figure much higher.

Post says he does want to sue, and part of his motivation is preventing similar fates for other paraplegics who may have to spend a night or more in Arpaio's jail.

In the meantime, the sheriff's detention officers continue to use the restraint chair.

In Los Angeles County, home of the largest jail in the country, jailers were asked whether they make use of restraint chairs for uncooperative inmates.

"I've never heard of such a thing," a Los Angeles detention officer answered.

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