BEAUMONT, Texas — A press conference was held in Beaumont Thursday to announce a federal lawsuit filed by a man accusing a Beaumont Police Department officer of paralyzing him from the chest down.
Christopher Shaw was taken into police custody after he was arrested for public intoxication on June 12, 2021. The NAACP Beaumont chapter, Shaw and other civil rights leaders said the incident that left him paralyzed happened as police were transferring him to the Jefferson County Jail.
Officers say that once Shaw was inside the booking area, he became very aggressive, using physical force to push officers, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Shaw “intentionally and knowingly” proceeded to kick an officer in the shin and groin, the affidavit says. He was eventually restrained and charged with assault to a public servant.
"This officer, while Mr. Shaw posed no threat to him, flipped him in the air and caused him to land on his head,” attorney Chance Lynch said. “When he flipped him and he landed on his head, blood poured out of his head due to a laceration."
Attorneys say after the body-slamming, jail staff failed to get him the proper medical treatment.
"He laid there on that floor in that cell begging for help. No one helped him. Using the restroom on himself," Lynch said.
The lawsuit on behalf of Shaw seeks unspecified damages from Beaumont Police Officer James Thomas Gillen, the City of Beaumont, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and the jail’s medical contractor.
According to the lawsuit, following Shaw's arrest, he was taken to an area hospital. Afterward, Gillen took Shaw to the Jefferson County Correctional Facility.
At one point while in custody, police said Shaw refused to comply with commands and jailers restrained him against a wall. Gillen grabbed Shaw, flipped him into the air and body-slammed him head-first on the concrete floor, leaving him paralyzed, according to the lawsuit.
A hospital examination showed that Shaw suffered several spinal fractures that have left him paralyzed from the chest down, the lawsuit says.
Shaw's attorney, Harry Daniels, said Shaw's life has been greatly impacted in the worst way.
“He was once an able-bodied young man before he was assaulted. He can no longer stand or walk. He is a prisoner of his own body. He spends a majority of his day in bed due to the fact he doesn’t have the resources to hire a full-time caregiver," Daniels said.
Daniels also said Shaw can't afford the physical therapy and treatment he needs that could give him a chance at a full recovery.
Shaw’s attorneys say they've seen the video, showing what happened when he was booked at the Jefferson Jail on June 12, 2021.
"We're here today to ask for accountability and also transparency,” attorney Chimeaka White said. "We're asking for that video to be released. The world needs to know what happened to Mr. Shaw."
The NAACP Beaumont chapter and the Texas Rainbow PUSH Coalition have since then been pushing for the video of the incident to be made public. They believe seeing the footage is the right of the public.