A Phoenix man who claims polio caused severe paralysis on one side of his body is suing the Phoenix Police Department because three officers severely beat him after they claimed he ran from them.
In a complaint filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, Refugio Rodriquez says the officers' claim that he ran from police is impossible because of his paralysis.
"He walks with a cane," his attorney, Jimmy Borunda, tells New Times, "but they still beat him up pretty bad."
According to the complaint, Rodriquez was in a church parking lot when he was approached by the three officers.
"It was late at night, and they said they thought he was damaging the building," Borunda says.
When they approached him, Rodriguez claims the officers said, "You better not run, you fucking wetback." They then slammed him onto the concrete driveway "in a manner which obviously exceeded the minimal amount of force necessary to accomplish a lawful purpose and continued to brutally assault plaintiff Refugio in the driveway," the complaint states.
The officers then hit Rodriquez with a Taser and beat him "with their police-issued long flashlights."
Rodriquez was taken to the Maryvale Precinct, where he claims one of the officers asked him "what's the matter, you can't take an ass-whipping?"
Rodriguez was then taken to the Fourth Avenue Jail, where an intake nurse told him she was going to have him taken by ambulance to the hospital because of the severity of his injuries. However, Rodriquez claims, the nurse came back a few minutes later and told him "if she sent him to the hospital emergency, she was told she would lose her job."
After he was released on bail, Rodriquez was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where the emergency doctor told him he "could have died because a blood clot near his brain was beginning to develop,"
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The problem with Rodriquez's lawsuit, his attorney points out, is that he already pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer, which definitely will be brought up should the case go to trial.
"He only pled to [assaulting an officer] so he could get out of jail," Borunda claims.
Rodriguez is seeking punitive damages and medical expenses for alleged assault, battery, negligence, and civil rights violations. The city of Phoenix, Maricopa County, Maricopa County Correctional Health Services, and the three Phoenix police officers are all named as defendants in the suit.
The Phoenix Police Department did not immediately respond to our request for comment.