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Officers not Liable for Excessive Force in Arrest of Paraplegic

Jack Ryan

Brant v. Volkert, 72 Fed. Appx. 463 (7th Cir. 2003).

Officers are often faced with circumstances involving persons with physical disabilities. As such it is necessary to train officers for such circumstances.

Mr. Brant, a paraplegic was stopped by the police while operating a three-wheeled scooter erratically and with no lights. A computer check revealed that Brant’s right to operate the scooter had been revoked. The officers arrested Brant. Prior to transporting Brant the officers called a supervisor for advice on how to transport a paraplegic. The officers were instructed to place him in a police cruiser.

The officers carried Brant and placed him in the cruiser. Brant complained that the officers twisted him into the cruiser, causing him injury.

In rejecting Brant’s claim, the court pointed out that officers must have authority to use “limited force to detain disabled or non-responsive persons.” The court noted the officer’s call to a supervisor as undercutting any claim that the officer acted in haste or unreasonably.

The court concluded, that while the arrest might have been “clumsy or imprudent, it was not objectively unreasonable.

Agencies should have policy in place to direct officers in dealing with special needs arrestees.

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