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Attorneys For Texas Man Paralyzed In Police Custody Call For Federal Probe

Christopher Shaw’s spine was fractured after a misdemeanor arrest.

On Wednesday (Aug. 17), lawyers representing Christopher Shaw, a Black man who alleges that a Beaumont, Texas police officer paralyzed him from the chest down while in custody, asked the Department of Justice to investigate the city for ignoring numerous cases of officers using excessive force, The Hill reports.

“We now have subpoena power afforded to us by the federal courts,” The Hill quoted Shaw’s attorney Harry Daniels. “We are in the process of getting everything … that shows that the city of Beaumont has a custom where their officers engage in unlawful use of force, and it is swept under the rug.”

KFMD reported that Shaw filed a federal lawsuit on July 14 against the City of Beaumont, police officer James Gillen who allegedly body-slammed him, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the jail's medical contractor.

The lawsuit says Shaw, 42, was arrested on a misdemeanor public intoxication charge on June 12, 2021 after Gillen encountered him that afternoon standing in a roadway and slurring his words, according to The Washington Post.

Gillen transported Shaw to the Jefferson County Correctional Facility in Beaumont after Shaw was evaluated at the hospital. At the jail, deputies had to restrain Shaw for “noncompliance,” the lawsuit states. Shaw “raised one of his legs” toward Gillen at one point without making contact or attempting to kick the officer.

Although the deputies had Shaw under control, Gillen suddenly “threw an object” across the room, approached Shaw, who was handcuffed, and grabbed from the officers, the lawsuit alleges. Gillen then allegedly slammed Shaw to the ground, causing Shaw to become unconscious, “with blood pouring from his head.”

The lawsuit alleges that Gillen’s excessive force fractured Shaw’s spine in several places. It also alleges that Shaw was left in a cell for about 20 hours before receiving proper medical attention.

RELATED: Black Woman, 68, Files Excessive Force Lawsuit Against North Carolina Cops After Alleged Violent Traffic Stop

Meanwhile, Shaw’s attorneys have also called on Texas officials to release police video footage of the incident, which Shaw’s sister and lawyers have seen. Chance Lynch, one of Shaw’s attorneys, called the video one of the “most disturbing” he has seen, according to The Hill.

Speaking at a separate press conference Thursday (Aug. 18), Rev. William J. Barber II, co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign, urged Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to release the video.

“Any politician that cares about justice that are running for office should be demanding the release of the videos,” The Hill quoted Barber. “This is not a case against all police. It is a case against an officer who was sworn to protect and serve in the name of the people but instead abused his power and destroyed the life of another human being.”

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